My wife and I recently celebrated an important "gotcha" day - specifically, the anniversary of adopting our first child, but also the memory of two pillar family members. Here's a little back story:
Every time we hit this "gotcha" day we're flooded with memories of traveling to a foreign country, jumping into a rickety old car with a total stranger, and driving through muddy roads for hours to finally unite with the son we'd been hearing, praying and dreaming about for months. Here's a pic of this handsome fella now:
We couldn't be any more blessed to have him in our lives. However, our celebration of Cam's homecoming is complicated by the fact that the day is also the birthday of Carole, my wife's mother, who passed away several years ago.
Carole was an incredible mother, grandmother and friend. Personally, she was one of my biggest cheerleaders - always telling me I could be a better person, achieve more in my career, and that some day I'd be a wonderful father.
She was a source of sanity and strength as my wife and I navigated the rocky and unpredictable adoption process. She kept her computer's desktop wallpaper set to a picture of Cameron, kissing it every time she walked by. She unfortunately never got to meet Cam, and although I'm a man of faith, Carole's death is one of those big "WTF GOD?" moments in my life that I'm still not at peace with.
A few years before Carole's passing, our family experienced another tragedy. My cousin Shawn, a Minnesota police officer, was tragically killed while trying to end a high-speed pursuit.
Shawn and I were close and loved a lot of the same things - playing guitar, singing, computers and spending time with our families. His death was a frightening reminder of how dangerous work is every day for those who serve and protect. I think about Shawn often.
Why share all this? Well, I think writing a blurb about these three individuals is therapeutic in a way. It helps me process a feeling that I can't quite put my finger on. A feeling of wanting to laugh, cry, mourn and celebrate - all at the same time.
This will sound super cheesy, but I don't care because it's worth writing a million times: tell and show the people around you that you love them. To be honest, I'm not always doing an awesome job of that. But I'm reminded on "gotcha" day every year that I should try harder.