On February 15th, 2009, I woke up to the sound of my mom crying. My dad had just taken his last breath in their bedroom, and he was gone. That was the last day I saw his physical body, and the first day of some of the most challenging, lonely, tear-filled times.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve made it a mission to look on the bright side of things. I spent a long time embracing the victim mentality, and it got me nowhere fast. I try my hardest to not waste any more time doing that. I’ve found that the more I try to do that, the easier it is.
I’m sick with a fever but I have a job that allows me to rest, and an attentive husband who spoils me.
I hurt my knee and haven’t been able to run for a while but I got to discover incline power walking… and that’s an underrated workout.
I hit a pole in the parking garage and damaged our beautiful new car but I didn’t hit anyone else’s car and no one was hurt, which makes the situation much more manageable.
Looking on the bright side is certainly not always my first instinct and god knows I’m not always happy-go-lucky, but I’ve really made an effort to try. When you take time to acknowledge the good things in your life, it’s incredibly hard to feel sorry for yourself.
That being said… February 15th always sucked. It just did. I’ve always tried to embrace Valentine’s Day wholeheartedly because it gets me into a loving, grateful mood just in time for this day, but it never worked. I tried looking at pictures of my dad to remember all of our wonderful memories, but that just made me cry more. I tried to plan activities from sun up to sun down to stay busy, but I ended up just going through the motions. I tried my best not to dwell on the details of that horrible morning – and the days leading up to it – but I can’t help it. It’s just always been a really shitty day.
Until last year!
Last year, I decided that since I can’t find a bright side, I might as well just freaking make one. I woke up and pulled out my laptop to get some writing done, but somehow found myself crying instead of working. Jeremy was at work and I was restless and sad. Something came over me (seriously, I don’t even know how it happened), and before I could blink I was in the car on the way to the animal shelter.
Jack came home with me that day. In fact, he was in my passenger seat before I even told Jeremy we were dog parents times two. There was no careful planning or discussion, which I truly don’t normally endorse in a relationship, but no one would’ve been able to talk me out of it anyways. I spent my February 15th snuggling a new little rescue pup, purchasing a tiny little collar, and making space for another crate in our very cozy apartment.
Today when I woke up, my first emotion wasn’t grief. I got to roll over and yell, “HAPPY ONE YEAR, JACK!” as he excitedly pawed my face. We’re obviously getting him a birthday cake to split with his brother, and I’m overly excited for that. He’s sound asleep in my lap as I write this, and his calming, cuddly personality is exactly what I needed last year, and what I need today.
I’m still a believer in looking on the bright side. Your quality of life is so much better when you’re able to change your perspective and focus on the positives rather than the negatives.
However… we’re not superhuman. Sometimes life is really hard. In that case, be proactive and do something that will make things better. Create your own damn bright side!