You know how certain dates kind of hit home- they bring up old feelings, remind you of past experiences, celebrations, moments of pure joy and mile stones for accomplishments. We celebrate birthdays, wedding anniversaries, sobriety, holidays, and then we countdown the days until we get to celebrate them once again. But there are also those dates that remind us of difficult transitions, of loss, and goodbyes.
For me- September 3rd is a day that resonates with me. To me- it’s a day of celebration as well as a day of mourning. Because on September 3rd, 2013 I lost my best friend, my confident, my world came crashing down around me in a matter of seconds. On September 3rd, I unexpectedly lost my mother. Fast forward 2 years and September 3rd, 2015 I made the biggest life decision I have ever made. I had weight loss surgery that forever changed my life. You see… every day of the year marks the beginning and the end of something for someone out there…and for me…September 3rd marks both the start of a new life and the ending of another- in more ways than one.
September 3rd, 2013
The day my world changed. I was a new grad nurse and had just started my first day of orientation as a Registered Nurse in Florida. My parents were back in Indiana spending the summer at their lake house and had just closed up for the year. Sadly, my cousin had just passed away from undiagnosed condition known as myocarditis. She was a young nurse back in Indiana and it was a total shock to everyone around her. My parents were on their way back to our hometown where the services were being held. They were driving two cars and like any other trip back home they always stopped for ice cream at the halfway mark. They had only been back on the road for 10 minutes when my mother’s car left the road, hit an embankment and plunged into a tree. I cannot fathom the feelings my father must have felt as he witnessed this unfold before him. And just like that, in the blink of an eye, my mother was gone. We will never know what caused her car to go off the road. There are so many unanswered questions that will forever go through my head.
The days following her accident are all a blur. Flying back to Indiana. Saying goodbye to my mother for the last time. Days passed by..months…a year…2 years…
Rewind a few years…
I had always been the bigger girl…in middle school…high school…I had convinced myself that I was built that way. That I had a larger frame than the other girls I knew. I tried dieting. I tried exercising. I fell off the wagon time and time again. I felt like no matter what I did I would always be “big.” I would spend weeks losing 20 pounds and felt like it only took a few days to gain it right back. Each time I failed I become more and more discouraged with myself. And when I lost my mother I totally gave up on myself. I fell into binge eating. Fast food ruled my life. My life was spiraling out of control and I had no one to blame but myself. Until one day something clicked inside of me. I wanted better for myself. And my mother would have wanted that too. That was the day I decided I was having weight loss surgery.
As many of you know, you don’t just decide you are having surgery and then you have it the next week. There are months of supervised diets, psych evals, dietary consults, weigh ins, insurance approvals, and mental preparation that go into having surgery. I think that the scariest decision I ever made was actually deciding to have surgery…and the second was the day I decided to tell my family. I was terrified that they would not be supportive, afraid of being judged and scared that they wouldn’t approve of my decision. I know that my father (having lost 100 pounds without surgery) was not thrilled with my decision, but he supported me regardless of his reservations. Today, I can confidently say that he would agree that having gastric sleeve surgery was the best decision I ever made for myself. I still remember getting the phone call from my surgeon’s office stating that I was approved for surgery and that they scheduled me for September 3rd. Of all days. September 3rd. I wasn’t sure how my mother would have felt about my choice to have weight loss surgery. For me- this was the sign I had been looking for. I felt like this was her way of telling me that I was making the right decision and that she supported that.
September 3rd, 2015
The day my life changed….again!
I arrived at the hospital at 5 am- full of every emotion from one end of the spectrum to the other-fear, excitement, anxiety, joy, and hope. I spent months preparing for this day. For the day that would change my life forever. And all I could do was hope that I was making the right decision. My hospital stay did not go as smoothly as anticipated. I spent countless nights in the ICU with kidney failure after having an allergic reaction to medications. I don’t remember much from those days because I was so ill that I could barely think. But I can tell you if I had to do it all over again- I wouldn’t change a thing. My experience as a patient taught me so much about being on the other side of the hospital bed. As a nurse it’s difficult to relate to patients when you haven’t experienced being a patient yourself. My entire experience has helped be become the person I am today. I am beyond grateful for that.
September 3rd, 2018
Today! Today marks 5 years since I lost my beautiful mother. My mother was a saint in all of its meaning. She was the bravest, strongest, most awe inspiring woman I have ever known. I never met a soul that didn’t admire her. She had the most contagious smile with a laugh that could fill the whole room. The lady that taught me how to live and more importantly – how to love. They say that time heals. That eventually it doesn’t hurt as bad. But that’s not true at all. I’ve learned that although time doesn’t heal the wounds in my heart from losing you- I have gotten stronger over these past 5 years. Growing up we don’t anticipate life without our parents until much later in life. I’ll never understand why you had to leave us so early. But I’ll forever cherish the years I did have with you by my side. Thank you for teaching me all the important things during your lifetime but also for the lessons you taught me after you left this earth. Since you’ve been gone I’ve learned how truly special life is. Life is precious. It’s temporary and should never be taken for granted. The present moment is where life happens. Right here, right now. Take a deep breath and experience life in the present time. You can’t spend your life second guessing your past or waiting to live your life in the future. All you have is now. This moment. Loss can bring unexpected blessings into your life. When you experience enormous losses you open up your soul for healing love from new sources. I am in awe of the resiliency of the human spirit. Love is the true meaning of life. It’s so easy to get caught up in school, careers, and material items. But really all you need is love. Love is what matters. Love is what’s remembered. And love will last forever.
Today I am 3 years post from my gastric sleeve surgery. I am down over 120 pounds and have been maintaining here for 2 years. The weight did not magically fall off. It took a lot of discipline and hard work to get to where I am today. I lost a lot in order to gain so much more. This experience has not only given me my health- but it’s given me an entirely new outlook on life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not overcome the obstacles I encountered to get here. It’s taken me a long time to realize that my weight does NOT define me. All the negative feelings I once felt about myself did not magically disappear when I lost weight. I had to take it upon myself to look within myself and find the love that I so desperately needed. We are all creators of our own happiness. Love who you are today and tomorrow will become easier.
September 3rd is an emotional day in my house. It symbolizes the last day that my mother walked on this earth and it represents a new beginning in my life. The day my life changed- in so many ways.
That’s what September 3rd means to me- every day has a significant meaning for someone. What’s your day?