February 16, 2012 will forever be the day that changed my life forever. At 8:34am, I held the hand of my best friend as she took her final breath and finally entered heaven in peace. For the first time ever in my life, I felt like my whole world was turned upside down. What was our family going to do from here? You were the rock who held everything and everyone together. You were the most amazing person I’ve ever known. I always remember seeing you sitting on the couch by the fire drinking your bourbon and water (aka totties) while watching Jeopardy while I sat in the chair next to you amazed at how many questions you would answer faster than the contestants on the television. I’ll never forget you coming out to the front yard at 63 and playing football with all of your grandkids. Most importantly, I’ll never forget the walks we would go on in the Outer Banks. During those walks you’d say, “You won’t figure out until later, but I see the potential of greatness in you and I always have. You’re something special.” Reflecting back on your presence in my life, I realized that you were all about creating and stamping permanent memories that I would never forget. But there was one memory I have of you that will always be planted in my memory bank forever.
The night before you passed, the entire family was corralled around your bed crying and praying that God wouldn’t take our family’s rock just yet. We wished that the clock of life would slow down in these final moments so that we could cherish the final moments we had with you. As were all grieving, you awake from your coma for a few seconds to deliver the final life lesson for all of us to take away. With no hesitation, you said, “What is wrong with you people?! Pull it together!” Who knew that those would be the final words that you would leave us with? After grieving for so long, I began to sit back and think about those three final words that you told us to do. I realized what you were saying was so much bigger than just the moment we were in.
When this road of life gets tough, you’ve got to keep that engine running, pull it together, and keep on chugging. When you thought those who believed in you were on your side leave you standing there alone in the dark and cold, pull it together to know that as long as you believe in you, you are the most unstoppable, unmovable, and unshakeable human being to walk the face of this earth. That when life cuts you deep from mistakes you’ve made in the past and leaves you with painful wounds, bandage them up, pull it together and allow those wounds to heal and strengthen you so that you may learn from those life lessons and use them as reminders of what not to go back to. When you feel like you’ve giving up because the hard work and effort that you’ve put in thus far in your life is only leading you to dead ends and hopelessness, pull it together, and keeping pursuing what you want out of life. Eventually the break you so long wished for will come.
The final memory you created within me and my family was one that has allowed me to change the perception on how I look at life. I began to understand that I will be able to pass on this mindset to generations after me. It’s something I will pass along to my daughter one day when she begins to grow and discover the hardships of what this life will put her through at times. That if she just can weather the storm and pull it together, she will be just fine.
You see, I began to be at peace with you being gone because I know that though you may be gone in the physical, you filled the void by pulling together the open wound of pain and sadness that was left in my heart. I have no worries any more about you being gone because I carry you with me wherever I go. You’re there with me reminding me that no matter what, pull it together and keep striving to be great.