Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Little White House

Over the last few months I've received a lot of messages; from soldiers, wives and widows, strangers and friends. Messages of support and encouragement. Messages from people who are moved and motivated by my story. And messages of sadness and sorrow. Messages from those who are struggling and have lost their way. So many heartbreaking stories. Oftentimes they just need to share their story with someone who kind of gets it. Sometimes they just need someone to tell them "you're strong enough" And you are strong enough. 

I've had a lot of people message me lately asking me for advice, wondering how I was able to triumph over tragedy and have a good, happy life.

I have a good, happy life because I made the choice to have a good, happy life. I know that makes it sound like it was simple, but of course it wasn't. Starting a second chapter of your life is far from simple or easy. It's a lot of hard work. It's exhausting and overwhelming, and a little bit frightening. But it is also meaningful, fulfilling and yes even exciting.

When people ask me for advice, I often worry that they think I have all the answers. I don't (I'm good but I'm not that good). Nobody has all the answers my friends, nobody.  And if they ever tell you that they do, just know that they are full of shit. Full of it. Really.

I don't have all of the answers but I do know this to be true: life is too short. I know I've said that before, but it bears saying over again. Life is too short.

We are all guilty of taking life for granted. Because we think there is always tomorrow. But sometimes there isn't tomorrow.

Sometimes you don't get another chance to tell that person you love them (you didn't because what if he doesn't love you back), or to call your mom (you haven't because you've just been too damn busy working and drinking beer with your buddies), or to take your kids on that trip to Disney you've been promising them for five years (you didn't because you really needed a second car, but you might take them next year). And then one day.... it's too late. There are no more chances. You never told him. You never called her. You never took them. And you never will.

There is a little white house at the end of my street. I pass it several times a day, and I often think what a perfect home for a retired couple. It's a cute little bungalow with a well manicured lawn and lovely flower beds. There's a beautiful bridal wreath bush in full bloom in front. The couple who live there moved in a couple of summers ago. They have a crazy little black lab that they got when she was a puppy last year (who incidentally is far better trained then Ginny ever will be). I often drive by them as they are walking downtown for dinner or coffee, or we pass when we are walking our dogs. They are always hand in hand. Always laughing and smiling. Clearly they are a couple who are madly in love and own it quite proudly. They make the most of every minute they have together. Every time I pass them my heart is warmed and I can't help but smile.

I was never a person to believe in things happening for a reason, but over the last two years I've started too. I'll never believe that the accident happened for a reason. It didn't, it was nothing more than that, a fluke accident. But I do believe there is a reason why we meet the people we do, when we do. I've had the most amazing people come into my life over the last two years, people who have held me while I cried, who made me laugh when my heart was breaking, people who have taught me so much and helped me become the person I am today. I can't imagine what my life would be like without them.

Call it fate or serendipity or whatever you will, I believe people come into our lives because they are meant to. Maybe they are meant to change us, or we are meant to change them, or maybe we are meant to change each other.

And sometimes it's because we are meant to love them.

Sometimes maybe we're just meant to be there for each other and love each other, as best we can, for as long as we can.

The other day when I was walking Ginny, one of the neighbourhood ladies stopped me to ask me if  I'd heard the news about the man in the little white house. My heart immediately sank. Because when someone asks you if "you've heard the news", it's rarely good news. He'd become ill with a stomach bug a couple of months ago, and he just couldn't shake it. He went to the ER a couple of times, and was told it was just a virus. But of course it wasn't just a virus. It was cancer.  And it was already too late. There's nothing that can be done, no treatment or cure, just medication to manage his pain.

They got married a couple of weeks ago. I don't know why they hadn't before, maybe it hadn't seemed important or they just hadn't gotten around to it, and besides, they had time (there is never enough time). But time sadly, is no longer on their side. It could happen at any time. Today, tomorrow, next week.

You just never know.

They thought they would get to spend the rest of their lives together. Instead they spent the rest of his life together.

He's sixty one years old. He retired only a couple of years ago. He played eighteen rounds of golf a day. He was physically fit and active. He did everything right and he has terminal cancer.

Cancer didn't happen to him for a reason, it just happened.

I'm sure neither one of them ever planned on starting a second chapter but, well, sometimes things happen. And then one day fate (or serendipity or whatever you call it) led them to each other.

How lucky were they that they found each other when they did. They had a second chance at love and they took it.

For a few brief years, a moment in time, she was his person and he was hers. They were happy. They made the most out of everyday they had together.

Sometimes we're meant to be there for each other, and love each other as best we can, for as long as we can. And sometimes that's not long enough. It's never, ever long enough.

I don't have all of the answers but I know this to be true.

This morning I ran by the little white house at the end of my street. A wife lives there alone with her black lab. Her husband will never come home.

All we can do is to love the best we can for as long as we can

Life is too damn short.

"To be someone's first love is great but to be their last is priceless."~Anonymous



  1. Thanks for another powerful post Monica. Although my journey was different than yours my experiences were very similar. I too believe that everything happens for a reason and that people come into our lives for a reason. I have met some incredible people over the past few years and they have all enriched my life in some way. Thank-you for putting on paper what I have felt.


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