Today, Kelle Hampton, from the blog Enjoying The Small Things, invited her readers to post and share their stories of how their lives reflected the themes in her newly published book, Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected.
And so I took her up on her challenge and wrote our story. I thought I'd go ahead and share it on our blog too, in case any of you lovely followers out there were interested in hearing it as well.
"It's been said that your life can change in a day -- good or bad. This statement couldn't be more true than when applied to my life.
Almost 3 years ago, in the early weeks of September, I was grieving the loss of my father. He was 54 and died suddenly after having a massive heart attack in the middle of the night. In the arms of his wife and my mother, the woman he had spent 32 years of his life with, he slipped away and made his way to Heaven. No warning, no chance to say goodbye. In a flash, he was gone and on September 11th, a day so many others had already marked as a day of great loss and sadness, we laid my father to rest next his parents in upstate New York.
The night my 2 younger sisters and I received the news, we were way on the other side of the country here in Southern California. We were awoken from our sleep with the news that our father was no longer with us and we were left to pick up the broken pieces that remained of our mother. She made it clear, early on, that she didn't want to exist on this Earth without him. And who could blame her? I certainly couldn't. Things were…messy and complicated. And they remained that way for a very long time.
At the time of my father's passing, I was 28 years old and single. I had successfully earned myself 3 degrees, all within the field of education, and yet after graduating with my master's degree I couldn't find a job that matched my experience. No teaching jobs open. No school counseling jobs available. And so I settled with a job as a teacher's aide, something I had done long before my days of teaching or earning those degrees. I was bitter and frustrated but I carried on and accepted any job I could get, knowing it would be good experience no matter what, and worthy of putting on my resume. And I was working with kids...the thing I loved the very most.
Then came the day my life changed…again.
On December 17th, on what would have been my father's 55th Birthday, I received an email from a single father named Stanton. He had seen an ad on a caregiver website with my information on it; an ad I had long forgotten about, as I had posted it over summer during my time off during summer break. He was looking for help. He had a little girl, Chloe, who was 5 years old and whom he was raising on his own; a little one who just so happened to have little almond shaped eyes and an extra special little something. I agreed to meet them and invited the distractions that I felt a second job would bring.
Little did I know, the two amazing and special souls I was about to meet would later become my family; that their house, clearly marked with the number 54 -- the same number I had seen repeatedly since the day my father passed -- would later become the place I'd call home.
Last November, Stanton and I were married in a courthouse with Chloe by our side. And a month later, in December, 2 years almost to the day we met, we ran off to Maui (to "Get Maui'd" of course!) and celebrate the new life and love we had been blessed with. We eloped…a second time! And this month? This is the month I will legally adopt Chloe and according to the state of California, officially be her mother.
Our life is…all that is beautiful in the unexpected.And together -- that's what we embrace every - single - day."