One happy girl.

Every once in a while I’m inspired to write. Obvs, now is one such time. Oddly enough, it’s usually around this time of year that inspiration strikes. Usually it’s part of a healing mechanism that kicks in every February-ish. This time of year is rough. I suffered a lot of loss over a four year period… losing my dad in March, my brother in April, and my dear friend in May. Sure, every year it gets a little easier, but if you’ve ever lost someone close to you, you know that your life fundamentally changed the minute you heard the news. Now try hearing that news year after year for four years. You lose hope at some point. 

When we lost Lanny six years ago on April 8, it rocked our worlds. I definitely lost hope. But it really rocked my little brother Jamie’s world as Lanny died on his birthday. And we won’t ever be able to change that. But in the last six years Jamie has completely turned his life around, overcome many many obstacles, and is a really, really awesome guy. He has a smile that lights up the room and a laugh of legends. He also has an equally awesome girlfriend. And he has a dog, Jack, that I’ve secretly paid to torture Jamie the same way he tortured me when he was a little boy. (I’m happy to report it’s working.) More importantly, Jamie is a huge part of my life and I could not be more proud of the person he has become. On Sunday, my little brother will turn 30 and my only wish is that we could be together to celebrate. But since we cannot, I will raise a glass in his honor and send lots of virtual love. Happy early birthday, lil bro. 

And while Lanny’s death has certainly had a profound impact on my life, finding out a few weeks ago that he had a daughter also rocked my world. But in a very, very good way. We now have a little piece of Lanny amongst us. I had the honor of spending the last five days in Michigan getting to know my niece and to say that I adore her beyond all belief is an understatement. She’s a sweet, cute, amazing little girl. And I couldn’t be happier to have her (and her wonderful family!) in my life. 

I realize this might sound like it’s heading down Sad Street but, rest assured, it’s not. Last year I wrote that I would celebrate Lanny’s life on April 8 and that I would not be sad on the anniversary of his death. Admission: I wrote that because I really truly wanted that to be the case and I thought that if I wrote it, I would believe it. It worked to some extent. You know, the old mind over matter trick. But the mind is an interesting thing… and so is matter, for that matter. And, alas, I found myself in a pool of sadness. However, this year the story really *is* different. So much has happened over the last year that I absolutely cannot help but embrace the future with an open mind and an equally open heart. And a smile on my face. 

In the last year I’ve realized a lot of things. I have a puppy. He changed my life in a way that I didn’t think possible. He’s adorable and awesome and you can’t help but love him. My family is healthy. As are my friends. I’m also healthy, despite going through a fairly major (at the time) health scare last year. While bad at the time, it made me realize the need to truly live life to the fullest. And I am. I’ve also reunited with old friends, made some awesome new friends, and have tried to make myself more of a focus. And I also realized that I love my career more than I ever have before. My dear friend Candice has always said I was born to be in PR, and I now believe her. All of these things, I’m certain, will help shape my next five months and 40 years.

So, now when I say that I’m happy, I mean it. And when I say that I’m celebrating Lanny’s life this weekend, I mean that, too. I’m also celebrating Jamie and all that he has become. And I’m celebrating having an open heart. And I’m celebrating life and all of its goodness. Plain and simple. 

My parting message to you this year is simple: go forth and tell the people you love that you love them. Don’t wait. Give them a squeeze and thank them for being in your life. Smile at strangers. Open doors for people. Do the right thing. And find whatever makes you happy and hold onto it with all your strength. And take a little time to enjoy each moment. 

And until next time, good people, be well. 


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