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I was so prepared to start 2009 on top of my game, my “stop making resolutions” musings were waiting for me to hit the post button, I was happy, rested and into the full swing of a new year.

On January 3rd, I received a call letting me know that my beloved mom-in-law passed away. I was originally going to say that she lost her three-year battle to leukemia but I think it’s far more accurate to say that she won her wish to live her life the way she intended to for as long as possible.

This vibrant and courageous woman who also happened to be a breast cancer survivor, was every bit a “mom” to me — not an “in law”.  I’ll miss her incredibly even though I realize so much from our relationship will always remain. From the beginning, she always treated me, and made me feel as though I were her daughter by birth. We had a bond that grew deeply over a period of seventeen and a half years.

The first time we ever met, I was afraid she was going to see my hands shaking or hear my knees knocking but in five minutes, I felt as though we’d known each other a lifetime. She was always gracious yet said exactly what was on her mind –one of the few people I’ve met who was completely comfortable in their own skin. Whether you agreed or disagreed with something she said, you loved her for who she was and she always loved you back.

Our last visit was much like our first, filled with laughter and happiness. She was at home and feeling well enough to join my husband, sister in law, father in law and myself for lunch at her favorite restaurant. She was in rare form and when our visit ended we hugged goodbye as we always did. That memory or a great conversation by phone is how I know she’d want us to remember her. We received the call three days after that visit.

The essence of what I share with you on this blog boils down to your mindset — which effects how you approach life, how you react to change and how you “reframe” your views. These things all determine how you view your life and all of its infinite possibilities. Only you are in your head and only you control those thoughts and views.

You could look at the situation and see it as unfair and be consumed with anger and sorrow over what was taken away or lost rather than the greatness of what was experienced during a lifetime. It might even be easier to fall into that thinking if you had lost as many people as I have in my lifetime. A different mindset allows you to see the beauty in each encounter with another human being. Whether the relationship ends due to death or some other separation, I believe each and every one of those encounters leaves us with the gift of a lesson.  It’s up to you to find each lesson. Perhaps it’s unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness, or perhaps acceptance.  It doesn’t mean that you won’t mourn the loss, simply that you’ll also be able to see the gain.

denise-bry-alaska2

Mom “What we have once enjoyed
we can never lose.

All that we love deeply becomes part of us”

Helen Keller


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