Two Years Ago Today . . .

A loved one’s death sparked a movement of change.


(My Senior Vocal Recital – Circa 2009)

Yes, on December 18th, 2011, Patricia Johannsen [my dear Grandma Pat] passed away.

I recall it so vividly :( that evening. I had just got home from a holiday party and was charging my phone when all these voicemails and text messages started popping up. The inevitable had happened = death. I was instantaneously ridden with such overwhelming sadness.

“Great,” I thought, “more heartbreak.”

Sidenote: At the time, no one in my life [and I do mean NO ONE] knew how miserable I truly was – how unhappy my life had become.

Within less than 48 hours of receiving the terrible news, I was back in Nebraska for the funeral. [Sigh.] What a depressing day! After her services, I remember wandering back into the chapel, sitting in a pew, and crying my eyes out [even more] as I re-watched over and over again her “life” slideshow. Besides my heartbreaking in two, it also felt as if this huge freight train was speeding down the tracks right towards me: “THIS IS YOUR LIFE! THIS IS YOUR LIFE! YOU BETTER GET OUT NOW! NONE OF US SURVIVE!” I know it might sound weird, but on that day, something within me was stirred. I was so down and felt utterly alone. I was in an unfaithful, loveless marriage, working a job that was oh-so-NOT meant for me, trying to change everything about me, just to make this life AND relationship I was in WORK. I mean yes. I WAS mourning the loss of a lady who meant the world to me. HOWEVER, her death generated this sudden gumption I had never felt before. In that single moment, while staring at snippets of my grandmother’s life, I realized I deserved more: a life and love that actually made me happy.

And you know what?

The Universe heard me [loud and clear], because within two months, Jenna was living a completely different life: the one I was meant to live.

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.“ – Mitch Albom

And, Grandma Pat, I hope you do know how insanely much I miss you. I think of you often, that amazing laugh of yours, and how being in your presence always filled my heart with joy. I hope you are proud me. You are the reason I am FINALLY living a life worth smiling about. Thank you, Patty, and until we meet again . . . I love you.

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