It’s the morning after the Kentucky Derby and I’m sitting in Louisville in a charming little Southern home my girlfriends and I rented for Derby Weekend.  I am enjoying my coffee on the deck on a beautiful sunny morning in Louisville as I try to take in the beauty this amazing morning has to offer.  There’s not a cloud in the sky and there is a crisp, cool breeze that’s whisking by.  I tilt my head back, let the breeze pass and take in the warmth of the Sunday morning sunshine that’s beaming down on my face.

It’s these little moments that I embrace and cherish more than ever now.  Ever since my husband passed I take a little more time to enjoy the fact that I get to wake up every day and find the good in each minute; that I get to take in a fresh breath of air and think about all the days I have left in this life to enjoy.  I think to myself, “What do I want to do next to prove that I should live everyday like it’s my last?”  I think about all the places I’ve yet to see in this world, all the people I have left to meet and all the moments I still have to tilt my head back and enjoy a quiet Sunday morning’s sunshine beaming down on my face and those are the moments that keep me going.

When I start to get sad about missing my husband, I think about him and how he taught me to live life in the moment.  When I’d get upset about something he’d look at me and say, “Hey…. you’re alive, you’re breathing.  You have the choice to let what’s upsetting you dictate your day.”  He was so right.  He taught me patience, understanding and taking small moments out of my day to enjoy the little things in life.  We were both spontaneous people and we enjoyed spur of the moment trips away with one another, or planning elaborate vacations away.  It’s like he knew all along his last day would be soon and he was taking in every single breath to the fullest.  I think about all the great places we had been together and all the fun things we planned.  I’ll never forget the time when we didn’t have the kids one weekend and we were sitting there wondering what we were going to do.  As I was surfing the Internet, I noticed that one of our favorite bands was playing in Las Vegas that night so without telling him, I immediately booked two tickets on the next flight out and told him to pack his bags.  He looked at me at first like I was crazy but then he pulled out that smile that he gave me that was that “I love you for everything that you are” smile.  He loved the fact that I was spontaneous just like him and that I took chances without even giving it a second thought.  He was a firm believer that life was meant to be lived and not to be filled with “What if’s.”  It’s why we were so good together and why we were so in love.  It’s why he chose to be with me and risk everything to ensure that he lived the same way until HIS very last breath.

In a way, I feel so honored that I was the one he wanted to be with and in a sense, I feel an obligation to continue to live that way for him.  He would have wanted nothing less for me and every time I check something off my bucket list (like attending the Kentucky Derby) I envision that smile he always gave me that made me know he always loved and cherished me for who I was.  It’s just one of the many moments of strength that come along the way of this grieving process that makes me enjoy each day I have left until our paths cross again.

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There are days that I do get sad about all the things that we won’t be able to enjoy together and I feel cheated that he was taken from me so soon.  But that doesn’t help me get through these days without him so I continue to look ahead and dream about the next box I’m going to check off my bucket list:

  • I want to visit Australia – I have never been and I remember learning about the continent in 2nd grade and was fascinated by kangaroos, boomerangs, Koala Bears, Aborigines, and The Great Barrier Reef.
  • I want to see Mt. Rushmore.
  • I want to see the Professional Rodeo Finals – it was always something he wanted to see and we were planning to go in the fall of the year that he passed. I’ll get there someday and tilt my hat up to the sky when I do!
  • I want to fly fish in Wyoming – he took a trip there with his father one year and I remember him texting me about how happy and relaxed he was to be away from the rest of the world at that moment. I want to feel his happiness.
  • I want to visit Ireland and enjoy all the things he told me he saw when he was a child while visiting relatives.
  • I want to ski every black diamond run in Lake Tahoe because I know for certain he did for the very short time he was on this earth.
  • I want to visit Alaska.
  • I want to see every sunset on every beach in the world.
  • I want to eat and drink my way through Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast and get a suntan on Lake Como.
  • I want to learn how to drive a ski boat so I can continue to make memories for my kids of the great summer days we’d spend on the lake enjoying days of wakeboarding, wake surfing, good music, great friends and making memories.
  • I want to drink french champagne to my head while enjoying the views of the Eiffle Tower.
  • I want to see the Giants beat the Dodgers AT Dodger Stadium.
  • I want to see Sammy Hagar perform live at Cabo Wabo in Mexico.
  • I want to see the Rolling Stones perform live before it’s too late.

So much more, so little time so I will continue to tackle it for as long as I live!

The Kentucky Derby was on his bucket list too and I hope he was smiling from heaven yesterday knowing I got to check it off my list.

We get one lap around the track of life.  I plan to put that pedal to the floor each day!