And They Lived Happily Ever After…

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A funny thing about Happy Endings is we don’t usually achieve them without coming across a few bumps, bruises and even gashes along the paths we travel to reach them. But no true hero ever achieved a major accomplishment or success without having to put a little blood, sweat and tears in along the way.

This weekend our family witnessed a little bit of a miracle in the making. Maybe to the ordinary person, someone would’ve thought it was just a wedding and a reception, with just another set of families gathering to celebrate as one man and one woman unite their lives together.

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But to the rest of us, it was another major sign that life can move forward, despite the tragedy we endured over six years ago that can never be erased from our hearts. With time, those scars can heal a little more. And while the pain only dulls, the blows to our heart also soften a little because we’ve learned to breathe, to cry, to hold onto one another and even allow new people into our lives who want to help lessen that pain.

The Maid of Honor said it so eloquently that the only thing that would’ve made the day even more perfect would’ve been having the biggest personality that was missing from the room there – the bride’s big brother. And, of course, it would’ve also been nice to have all of the other loved ones we have lost over the years there as well, whose places will never be replaced too.

My heart skipped a beat when I heard the Pastor announce the bride and groom were now husband and wife. But it was a simple moment during the reception that made my eyes water and made me realize that the little girl with the crystal blue eyes I first met when I came into this family was now all grown-up. As she danced arm-in-arm with her husband, head on his shoulder on the dance floor, the two of them together cradling their baby girl.

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Life does move in mysterious ways. To this day, I clearly remember a conversation from almost six and a half years ago with a good friend and fellow journalist about what my family was facing now after Timothy’s death; in which he responded, “Jenn, what do you want me to say? The odds aren’t good. You know that. Many people don’t come back from things like this.”

So whether it was my mission, my determination or my pure stubbornness, I was going to help my husband, children and myself keep moving forward and stay afloat day by day, hour by hour, and even minute by minute if need be. The road has been far from a walk in the park because I believe it’s far too easy to sink deeper into the darkness than to struggle toward the light and try to be happy again.

This weekend, we celebrated the beginning of a new life for this young couple with an unwritten future ahead of them, just waiting for their pages to be filled with adventures and excitement. Many of us know the road that lies ahead of them will not be without challenges, potholes and obstacles. It will be their strength of heart and faith that will navigate them through the rough patches and guide them to the memories that will last a lifetime.

At the reception on Saturday night, as the music played, the cameras snapped and the drinks poured, we were reminded that life is much too short to not enjoy every single minute so tell your loved ones just how much you love them, put aside petty feelings and just live.

For a young lady, who lost a piece of her heart when she lost her big brother, I am so proud of the woman you have become, the mother you have made yourself into and the wife who I know you will be.

Sweetheart, your father and I wish you and your family nothing but happiness, love and joy.

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