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Monday, April 12, 2010. Ten years – it feels like a lifetime ago, and yet I can remember it like it was yesterday. When I woke up that morning, I had no idea that my beloved husband, Sam, wouldn’t be with us by that evening. He died of a massive heart attack that day. In addition to the upheaval to our accounting business and the life of myself and our three daughters, the gut-wrenching grief that I was experiencing was overwhelming. If anyone were to ask me today how I got through that time, I can honestly say that I don’t know. A few significant items do stand out – Shannon’s college graduation a month later; the death of Sam’s best friend just two weeks after his; daily phone calls from a friend that was a lifeline; and late-night debilitating panic attacks – but most of that time was a blur. 

However, as often happens in times of pain, grief, and uncertainty, I discovered that I was stronger than I had believed, and I was able to somehow not only survive but eventually grow and thrive. Sam had always been my biggest cheerleader, believing in me more than I believed in myself, and encouraging me to try new things. As I learned to depend more on myself, I realized he had taught me so many lessons that I continue to carry forward today:

  • Never take life too seriously. There’s always room for fun and laughter!
  • Always think the best of others, and that their intentions are good (until proven otherwise).
  • Never wait until the time is right. If you want something, figure out a way to go for it, jump and a net will appear. Of course, that net is what you’re doing to make sure things turn out!

Sam’s belief in me continues to stay with me, even after his death. It helped me discover my passion, written about in this blog, and to write a book, “I Didn’t See That Coming!”. The book provides a way for people to get their important documents organized, so they are able to better take care of themselves and their loved ones in case of an unexpected Life Event. 

My girls and I have started a tradition of remembering stories about Sam as the anniversary of his death nears. This year, I asked them their takeaway on the lessons Sam taught them, and here is what they said:

  • Don’t take life – or yourself – too seriously. One of our fondest memories include him being annoyingly loud and boisterous on Saturday mornings when we were getting up early for one of our road trips, regardless of how much we complained.
  • Do take serving others seriously – he was very involved in our church council, the Middletown Business Association, coaching our sports teams, and helping clients. He taught us how to be a part of a community – not just looking out for yourself, but helping others as well.
  • Go after what you want, and don’t let your doubts hold you back. He was very supportive of our activities and encouraged us to follow our passions. 

Sam’s outlook on life has inspired me – and our daughters – to take chances and risks, even today. His steady confidence in himself and those around him, and his belief in always looking forward rather than back, are part of his legacy that continues to shape our outlook on life, for which we will always be grateful.