THE CHOICE IS… mine?

I followed my dreams this year and moved across the country to Jackson Hole, WY. It’s absolutely one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to – and that’s coming from the self-proclaimed island girl who lived on the beach her entire life and boycotted vacation planning until hearing the word “Caribbean”.

It’s easy to feel lost here, too. I shared my father’s cancer story with you about a month ago because it was something that I felt I needed to tell the world. As sad as this truth is, I bet you have a “cancer story” about someone in your life. Cancer affects EVERYONE these days, and I realized that as a voice of a child who’s parent was dealing with cancer, I could be a sounding board for support groups where other people were going through similar phases. Was it fair that my dad was diagnosed with the rarest, most aggressive form of adulthood cancer? Of course not. But life’s not about being fair. It’s about playing the cards you were dealt.

So on January 9th, just 3 short months after my father’s quick diagnosis and immediate limb removal, he discovered the news that there must have been a rogue cancer cell that didn’t come along for the limb removal ride – and that cancer cell managed to spread throughout his entire body. 3 days later he allowed my mom, my sister, myself, and all of the angels of loved ones past to surround him and lift him up into heaven. It was the most beautiful death I have ever seen. It is also the hardest thing that I have ever gone through.

The pain of losing your father “unexpectedly” – and I say this because when the limb removal was complete they were certain that they had removed all of the cancer AND he was going through radiation just to be sure – and to such a disgusting disease is a hard thing to deal with as a twenty-something who was a Daddy’s girl her whole life. I have been blessed with amazing parents. They were (are) blissfully in love with each other and dedicated their entire lives to family. My mom, the forever matriarch, has strength that burns so brightly – she has passed that torch onto my sister and myself in this time of grief. And my sister! I don’t know what I would do if I was an only child. My mom lost her husband, her best friend, her companion, her partner, her soulmate since the age of 14. My sister and I lost our dad – and to have someone who knows what I’m going through is the initial step in moving forward.

My mom has openly told my sister and I that there is nothing left for us at home. Our grief cannot be compounded by moving back in with my mom (my sister has a husband and I have Stephen, we can’t exactly get bunk beds). The hardest part of that conversation was when my mom looked me in the eye and told me that I HAD to go back to Wyoming. I hadn’t really even thought about it; we were in the middle of arrangements, family visits, and stuffing our faces with the comfort food that every family we’ve ever known brought to the house. She reminded me that this journey was important to her and my dad; the art of following your dreams and living life was something that they both were so proud of – and it was also something that my mom wanted me to see through.

I like Wyoming. I like the snow (sometimes, unless it’s a day that I fell on the ice in front of a huge crowd of people), the fact that everything runs on green public transit, the snowboarding/skiing culture, the mountains, the yummy food, the wildlife. I also really miss home. I miss my beach, the smell of the salt water, the humidity, my familial support, my childhood bedroom, and even my old apartment. I miss the simplicity and comfort of being in my hometown.

In one particular segment of my favorite show, an entire plot is developed over the idea that when something BIG happens, the important thing to keep and eye out for is “what comes next”. I feel that pressure, that anxiety, but not in a negative regard. I just feel like a fire has been lit under my bottom and I need to charge forward and…… well, that part I don’t know. Should I stay in Wyoming for awhile longer? Should I move back home and build a life there with Stephen? Should I start my own company? Should I change careers? There are a lot of questions, a lot of dreams, a lot of confusion. I am constantly asking my dad for a sign… he comes to me in dreams every single night. Sometimes he is a figure in the background, other times my dream revolves around us doing something together, like going to the beach or grocery shopping. Last night, he wasn’t in my dream. And I didn’t really dream about… well anything. Maybe that’s a sign to clear my head. Or, maybe it’s a sign that the possibilities are endless. You’re right. The choice is mine.

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