Happy Birthday Gregger!

Dear Gregger –

?Happy 64th Birthday! ? Really? Is that even possible? Wasn’t it just yesterday I was planning your surprise party? Four years. Past. Gone. Your 60th birthday. Your last. Your best. What I wouldn’t give for one more celebration. You should be here. We should be celebrating. We should be raising our glasses together.?? But. God had different plans. As the old saying goes, “We make plans and God laughs.” Well he must have had one good chuckle when he heard our plans.

I could make this about me. How I miss you. ?Miss us. Miss my friend. My partner. My best love. But. You know all that. Or. I hope you do. I thought it’d be easier by now. It’s not. Sometimes it’s harder. Because time passes. Quickly. And I realizes nothing changes. I just keep getting older. But everything else? Stays the same. Lonely. Empty. And longing for what I’m missing. You.

But. Today is not about me. It’s about YOU. You who gave so much in this life. To me. Your kids. Your friends. Your colleagues. You who touched everyone with your smile. Your twinkling eyes. Your kind heart. You who radiated kindness and generosity. You were the spirit of joy. Love. And all that is good. Perfect? No. But. I laugh now at your imperfections. Your quirks. They made you, you. And that’s why I loved you so. I always say you taught me to be the best version of me. I’m still learning. But. It’s your lessons. Your reminders. They help me grow. I am forever grateful. For you. Our life. Our love.

What do I wish on your special day? I wish you peace. Love. Joy. Your light continues to shine on this earth. I see it. I hear it. And. Most of all. I feel it. It’s everywhere.

Happy Birthday Gregger. I love you today. I’ll love you forever.

packing up

Home…Cleaning Up!

stepping 5 The last few days have been a whirlwind. So much to do, yet I feel so little is getting done. I walk from room to room. I stare in closets. I peek in drawers. I open. Close. Walk away. It’s overwhelming. I don’t know where to start. 22 years. Life. Love. And memories. Stuffed away in spaces. What do I keep? What do I toss? What do I pack away? I don’t know. It seems that everything has a purpose. Everything has meaning. Even the dead plant on the shelf. Poor thing. Lost to my “brown thumb.” Gregger would be so sad. He loved his plants. And was super proud of his “green thumb.” Me too.

steppingI worked my way into our closet. I figured it was a smart place to start. Not sure why. But I did. Boxes. And boxes. And boxes. All empty. Gregger loved to save. Hated throwing away. There are three reasons to save things: you may need it later; have a sentimental attachment; or don’t want to waste anything. But boxes? He always thought we might have to return something. Half the boxes went to items that were obsolete! Old Iphones. Cameras. Computers. Mophie cases. It was good for a laugh. And boy did I need a laugh. Thanks Gregger!

Tucked in a corner, high on the shelf hid a pile of dust. Much to my surprise, under all that dust, hid a pair of alligator cowboy boots. I tried to conjure up a memory, but it wouldn’t budge. I had flashes of him. Jeans, cowboy boots, a plaid shirt, but it could have been a dream. I just don’t remember. Sad. The boots. Butter soft leather and alligator with steel toe tips. They rocked! But on the Gregger? Not so sure! He wasn’t the cowboy type. Sharp. Dapper. Suave. But cowboy? Western? I beg to differ.

first few daysI moved onto the filing cabinet. I knew this was going to be one big headache. I persuaded my brother to help me with this arduous task. Gregger not only loved boxes. He loved papers. He thought you might need something someday. So SAVE IT! OMG! In a nutshell, we condensed two filing cabinets into ONE DRAWER! Gregger must have been watching me, wringing his hands, pulling his (nonexistent) hair, and biting his nails. But Gregger – it was time! We don’t own the TV from 1994! No need to keep the warranty from Best Buy! We no longer have the computer from 2000! Obsolete! Papers, papers, and more papers! It’s 2015 and it’s all in the CLOUD! Or somewhere like that. So we made a dent. A start. Tomorrow is another day.

I am stressed. Overwhelmed. Overloaded. But I am doing the best I can. Six years ago I wrote on my FB wall: “Realize that true happiness lies within you. Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside. Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.” So I will keep smiling. Keep sharing. Keep giving. Positive thoughts. Live. Love. Learn. And always be grateful. Blessings.

To be continued….

stepping 4

Home…The First Few Days

first few days“Home.” In the house. Things to do. First things first. Unpack. Enter the closet. UGH! Our closet. A place we shared. Our things. Together. Neatly hung. Methodically placed. Color coordinated. Shoes boxed. Belts hung. Orderly. Just like Gregger. His side. My side. Only now it was all mine. A few stray shirts hung in a corner, along with a sparse mixture of belts and ties. I wanted it the old way. Elegant suits matched with sophisticated shirts, ties, and pocket squares. Just like Gregger. But now my clothes filled the space reminding me again of his absence.

first few days 1I peeked into his dresser. Everything neatly folded. Piles. Color coded. Socks. Underwear. T-shirts. I didn’t dare get too close. It might smell like him. I wasn’t ready. The bottom drawer. A few stray shirts. And buried beneath, cards, letters, and more cards. All from me. I had no idea. I covered them. It wasn’t time. Not yet. I will read them. And remember. But not now. Too much to do. Too many emotions.

first few days 2I ran into Starbucks to caffeinate. Our Starbucks. I thought I was over that “hump,” but it came rushing back in a flood of memories. Sitting outside. Chatting about nothing. Our Sunday-Funday. I missed it. I missed him.

Driving downtown yesterday I found myself driving directly toward the Suns arena. Without even realizing it, my eyes welled up. The tears trickled down my cheeks as I remembered.  So many games. Date nights. And, of course, the memorial. His last “hoorah.”  first few days 3

So being here is tough. He’s everywhere. Not that I don’t want to see him. I love seeing him. But it will take some getting used to all over again. It’s okay. I’m okay. I just have to take it one day at a time. Live. Learn. Love. And always be grateful. Blessings.

To be continued…

first few days 4

dont wait

Don’t Wait

US openI spent Labor Day weekend consumed with the U.S. Open. I am a tennis junkie. I guess that goes back to when the boys played, and it stuck. But I should not be watching alone. This was something Gregger and I did together. And this year we were supposed to be in New York. At the Open. That was the plan. But plans change. Life changes. And I’m here watching the matches on TV. Not in person. Not in New York. Not with Gregger. We had a lot of plans. We had our bucket list. In the last five to ten years, we were checking it off. But we had a long way to go.

When you’re young you think you have the whole world in front of you. There’s always tomorrow. We put things off forever. Or so it seemed. First it was a house. Kids. A bigger house. Kid expenses. College. It never ended. So we delayed our bucket list. In the last ten to fifteen years, things changed. The kids were grown. We were settled. Life was good. So we started “checking off.” But it took some convincing. Some nudging. Gregger would have been happy working nonstop. Stuck in his routine. I had to pull him out of it. Sometimes it meant tacking on a “bucket list item” to business. But I was okay with that. However we did it, we did it. Check. don't wait

Last year, my “bucket list” included being able to walk again. First a few steps. Then maybe a mile. The ultimate, climb Pinnacle Peak. Get back to OTF.  I never thought I’d be able to do those things. I could barely sit or climb stairs. Now I’m running, working out every day. I believe “someone” is watching over me. Check.

I always dreamed of writing. Or to share my writings with others. Strange how things work out that way. Not the way I planned it. Maybe part of someone else’s plan. That’s okay. Check.

Going back to Hawaii was a big one. Ending the way it did was not. And now we will never finish the bucket list we shared.  A new house closer to the store. African Safari. Australia.Washington, D.C. I was there. Gregger was not.  We planned to “train it” from NYC. The perfect plan. I guess not. And the biggest one. The one we were planning for January. The one we’d been planning for our 25th, our 30th, and our 35th. But life kept getting in the way. Renewing our vows for our upcoming 40th anniversary. All part of OUR Bucket List. The list we will never check together. But one I will try to fulfill on my own. A journey I will travel. And always know that Gregger is with me. In my heart. By my side.

bucket listBut YOU have today. YOU can fill your bucket list. They can be simple. Close to home.  Whatever your hopes. Whatever your dreams. DON’T WAIT. Don’t put off ’til tomorrow what YOU can do today. I learned tomorrow may be too late. We were lucky. We had a lot of tomorrows. We filled our bucket about 3/4 full. I was blessed. But I would have loved to fill it to the top. With Gregger. Not alone. I just don’t have that chance. But you do.  What are YOU waiting for?

Five years ago I wrote to myself: “Make every day count. Appreciate every moment and take from it everything that you possibly can.” 

bucket list 1


ellen degeneres show

My Girl

IMG_1488“I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day. When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May. I guess you’d say, what could make me feel this way?” Ellen! Ellen! “Talkin’ ’bout my girl!”

Ellen who? Ellen DeGeneres of course! The epitome of  hope, joy, and optimism, Ellen enters millions of homes each day through the miracle of electronics. She dances her way into living rooms and hearts, including mine. I have been a fan for 12 years now, but this year has brought a whole new dimension. Even when I’m having the crappiest of days, I turn on Ellen, and I am overcome with joy. She makes me smile, laugh, cry. She makes me forget. For one hour. Jokes, music, celebrities, and the most inspiring human interest stories from all over the world touch my heart. Stories told by children, students, teachers, families, and so many others who promote the power of positivity when facing tremendous tragedy, loss, and adversity. It reminds me. It comforts me. My heart flutters when Ellen raises the light for these people who have lost hope. Once again, it makes me recognize my blessings.

ellen degeneres“Ellen” was part of my bucket list. Going to the Ellen show was BIG on my list. Thinking I would ever make it there was way at the bottom. But leave it to Gregger. He always knew how to make things happen! It was our 37th anniversary. He handed me a manila envelope. This was different from the small silver wrapped boxes I usually received.  Not that I expected it, but over the years he had developed a reputation as one of the BEST in the gift department. So what could possibly be inside a manila envelope? Paper? That’s the 1st anniversary.  This was our 37th! But I was thrilled to get THIS paper. Inside was a picture of “My Girl, Ellen” with the words: “Happy 37th Aniversary! Time to Get your Dance on!” Gregger was taking me to L.A. with V.I.P. tickets to the show! No, Way! This was beyond awesome! A dream come true! And Gregger was going with ME! The icing on the cake. Four tickets! Ashley and Tyler were meeting us to join the anniversary celebration! Wow!

IMG_1489We flew to L.A. on Sunday. Our wonderful chauffeurs, Ashley and Tyler, greeted us at the airport, and we were off and running. We spent an incredible day playing tourists. Brunch at Urth Cafe, afternoon in Malibu, happy hour at The Ivy, dinner at Ocean Club! Absolute perfection! Good times. Fun times. Family times. Monday morning we were pumped for “our girl.” Filling a few hours we started off at Nate and Al’s, walked Rodeo Drive and then headed out to Burbank. Even with V.I.P. tickets we wanted to get there early. It was a full on adventure. We had to take pics, shop for Ellen gear, and soak it all in.

IMG_1494It was a good long wait, but who cared? We were at the ELLEN SHOW! We were ready to get our dance on! Even Gregger was feeling it. A little pushing and shoving and we made our way to the front. Truly the front. Front row center! Up close and personal with “my girl.” She came dancing through the aisles, spotted Ashley and danced face to face with her! What a moment! Gregger was rockin’ it. We were rockin’ it. You just couldn’t help but laugh, smile, sing along, and DANCE! Selma Hayek, Kellan Lutz, Luke Bryan, and two high school boys with a heartwarming and inspiring story. But it was Ellen who continued to warm the room. Her genuine charm. Her sincerity. Her kindness. Her generosity. It swept over the room like a breath of fresh air. IMG_1487

I was blessed with Gregger in my life for almost 40 years. I am blessed now. Ellen reminds me that there is always someone suffering from something greater. If they can get through a day with smiles, so can I. She ends every show with the most beautiful message: “Be Kind To One Another.” What greater message to send to the world. Spread it. Share it. This was Gregger’s legacy. Kindness. Compassion. Goodness. If I can keep this going, it will be all the success I will ever need. I can be something better, do something better. It is hope. It is power. It is joy.


time is today

Time is Today

time2Time is such an interesting concept. When I was younger I believed time was an infinite cloud of dreams waiting to happen. Time was about growing, changing, making mistakes and righting them again. When I was 5, I wanted to be 10; when I was 10, I wanted to be 16; 16, I wanted to be 21, and so it went until about 30. Time never stood still, it never stopped. It didn’t care what I was doing, wanting or needing in my life. Time continued on and still does. Only now time moves so much faster. I think time started racing after my kids were born. I suddenly had this urge  to slow it down, stop the clock, sometimes just turn it back. Time makes sense of our moments. It organizes our life into past, present, and future, but moves so fast that sometimes we miss the most the important part…THE PRESENT. We are so busy looking back or ahead that we don’t see what is right in front of us NOW. Time doesn’t wait for anyone. Time doesn’t let you go back. Time doesn’t give you a “redo.” Time is today.

When the kids were younger time was efficiency. Time was the clock. Time to wake up. Time to go to school. Time for tennis or dance. Time to eat dinner. Time for bed. For Gregger, time was his constant. He lived by the clock. 4:30 am exercise. 5: 30 am newspaper. 6:00 am shower, 6:30 am bagel or oatmeal,  7:00 am out the door and headed to work. Time controlled. Time was flashing, moving at breakneck speed. Time didn’t stop for breaks, but we should have. No turning back. Time doesn’t give you a “redo.” Time is today.

“What is time? Is it the autumn leaves that change? Or the snow that floats from the sky? 
What is Time? Is it the air we breathe? Or the wings that teach the new born bird to fly?”

It used to be family time, our time, me time. It was never Gregger time. Maybe in the hush of the morning hours, but that was about it. He believed “you can’t recycle wasted time.” So very little was wasted. It was all used up. I was selfish. I took my me time. Now I wish I had a little less of that and more of the “our.” I wish I had taken more of those trips to Italy and New York when he begged me to go. But I had “been there done that” and he was busy working. I figured I had all the time in the world to go again with him. I guess not. Time doesn’t give you a “redo.” Time is today.  time

Time has become much more relevant to me in the past eight months. If I could rewind to August 30th, I would stop the clock on the beaches of Maui, rewind and take us back to the condo. I would start that day over. I wouldn’t have argued with Gregger over some dumb bagels that got moldy in a drawer. I wouldn’t have gotten all pissy when we drove to Kaanapali and the beach was crappy. I would have held him a little longer, a little tighter in that last hug. I would have insisted he NEVER go into the waters at all. In the blink of an eye time becomes our past and future. Life changes and suddenly nothing will ever be the same again. Time doesn’t let you go back. Time doesn’t give you a “redo.” Time is today.

“What is time? Is it eternity in heaven or just a hope for peace on earth? Where’s the time gone in a blink of an eye but with every blink a birth.”

Time is now measured in multitudinal ways. The clock moves, days and months stream by. The sun rises and sets, seasons change, days turn into nights, another ball drops in Times Square.  I see my parents and children growing older. Past time is filled with beautiful memories, a movie playing in my mind. The memories flow like a flash of pictures from a fairytale.  I sit back treasuring the show. It reminds me of all the love, happiness, and joy that filled our lives. It edits the “yucky” and magnifies the good. It’s the perfect Oscar winning film. Future time is filled with new adventure, roads left untraveled. But I will cherish the present. The time that is NOW.  I will live for today. I will make new memories. For Time is today.









Channeling my Gregger

anger 2A few weeks ago I was challenged by one of those life situations that just gets me in the gut. I was writhing in anger; not my prettiest moment. I don’t like feeling angry. It’s ugly, gets the best of me, and seems way too powerful. Rewind 8 months, a year. Gregger was my vent release. I’d shout, curse, blow off steam and he’d listen, sometimes patiently, sometimes not, but, bottom line, I knew he was there. Where do I go with this anger? I get angrier with myself just for being angry. It is truly a hideous emotion that sucks the energy out of me. I am a positive person. I don’t have time for such pointless emotions. Good riddance to this monstrous soul that is sucking the life out of me. So today I look to my Gregger for the angel who will bring me peace. I hear him whispering his beautiful Greggisms in my ear and offering me solace when I need it most.beinggratefulquotesBe grateful for the blessings in my life. (So many blessings, so much gratitude)

Say “I love you” a lot and mean it. (I do, I do)  

Everyone deserves a second chance…learn to forgive and love again. (I hear ya!)

Be kind. It gets you everywhere. (This is a biggie and has really paid off in your absence!)

Don’t compare your life with others. Envy is a waste of time. (You pounded this into my brain…got it Gregger!)

Focus on the positive – make peace with your past so it won’t spoil your present. (I’m trying…really I am.)

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Smile and laugh more. (Again…I’m trying…really I am but I miss your laughter!)

Agree to disagree; you don’t always have to win. (Okay, I relent!)

No one is in charge of your happiness except you. (I take charge TODAY. Let me see what I can do about this!)

Each day do something good to or for others. (Even if it’s smiling at a stranger or letting someone cross the street, I think of you.)

Cherish every moment; you never know when it will be your last. (You taught me the importance of this…I cherish, I love, and I believe.)

cherish the moment

Gregger you are with me every day giving me strength. So the Greggisms will continue to get going when the going gets tough. My rock, my salvation, my angel.   




The Secret

imageI hate secrets. I have hated secrets since I was a little girl. I think secrets can get you into trouble, unless they are the really, really good kind of secrets. Or the secrets (more like confidences) shared amongst friends – those are just different. Secrets are something you have to keep inside. You can’t talk about them, you can’t tell anyone, and sometimes they just harbor icky feelings.

Surprises are much different than secrets. Surprises are generally joyful, exciting, and are shared with family and friends. Sometimes a secret can turn into the very best surprise and that’s the only time secrets are OKAY in my book! So when Gregger kept a BIG secret from me for nine months (that eventually turned into a wonderful surprise), I decided it was okay to forgive him.

I had absolutely NO idea he was harboring this secret. If there were an inkling, I would have nagged him to death. That’s probably why he kept me in the dark for so long. So when he came home after work on Saturday, April 28th and suggested we have a drink before dinner, I really didn’t think much of it. This was typical on Saturday nights, kind of our time to unwind and recap, slow down a bit. He was overly exuberant after a stressful day, but I figured he was just happy to be done with a difficult week. He was taking his sweet time going through the mail, getting undressed, and suggested we sit outside for a while since it was such a nice evening. (Clue #1)

We toasted to the weekend, another week gone by, and happy times ahead. We finally meandered inside for dinner around 8:30 and all through the meal he jabbered on about going back outside for another drink! We just didn’t do that! (Clue #2) I was exhausted, but that just wasn’t going to fly. So back we went to enjoy the Arizona air. Unfortunately luck was NOT on Gregger’s side. As Gregger was relaxing, I went to find one of our dogs only to discovered a SNAKE on the side of the house. My scream could have been heard in downtown Phoenix! The snake creeped it’s way out of the yard and we headed back to where we started. One sip in and I came completely unglued. A godawful BAT was flapping around the outer lights! UGH! That was it! I was done! Gregger was so bummed, but I begged him to head to the bedroom for safety and a little TV. This was a switch! (Clue #3)   image

I was so ready to hit the hay but he was going strong. Although he was trying to be discreet I could see his cell phone tucked away in his pocket. I did find that very odd, but decided not to question. (Clue #4) Our home phone was broken so I thought he was just being overly cautious. I remember watching an old “Everybody Loves Raymond,” the news, and the opening of “Saturday Night Live.” We were both distracted. I was trying to figure out what the Gregger was up to and he was just plain WEIRD! He randomly mentioned Ashley and Tyler’s trip to San Francisco to celebrate Tyler’s 26th birthday. He hoped they were having fun, yada, yada, yada. Yeah – me too!  At this point I just wanted some shutup and shut-eye! Suddenly we were jarred by the ring of  the house phone (which we frustratingly couldn’t answer) and “Tyler Ludwig’s” name on the TV screen. I freaked!

#1 Why would they be calling us from San Francisco?

#2 Why would they be calling us this late at night (yes, we would normally be SOUND asleep!)?

In total panick mode due to the home phone outage, I was screaming at Gregger, “Call them back, call them back. Right now!” As he began dialing, his phone buzzed, and, as anticipated, it was Ashley and Tyler. My heart was beating out of my chest. Gregger was calm as a cucumber. What was wrong with him??? He was chit-chatting away as I nudged and poked. What’s wrong, what’s wrong? He started to hand me the phone, but I snatched it out of his grasp. “Hey guys, is everything ok?” Ashley kind of giggled, “We were walking around and saw something that reminded us of you so I’m texting you the picture right now. Look at the phone and let me know what you think.” I waited in an anticipation (thinking it was someting to do with “I Love Lucy”) until I heard the “ping,” When I looked down my heart skipped a hundred beats.  I screamed, I cried, I jumped for joy! The day I’d been waiting for for seven years had finally happened!


Ashley and Tyler were ENGAGED! Tyler had finally popped the question! I know that sounds crazy, but I just knew these two were meant to be together. Tyler had been a part of our family from day one and now it was going to be official. This was one happy moment! You would have thought he put the ring on MY finger!  image

So Gregger kept a secret all right. He kept that darn secret for nine months! He knew every little detail from the ring, the proposal, and where the ring was hidden. He was so worried I was going to be mad at him. Are you kidding me? This was the BEST secret that turned into an even BETTER surprise! So even though he broke our cardinal rule of keeping secrets, forgiveness was indisputable. It’s hard to believe it’s the three year “engagaversary” (as Ashley dubbed it). I remember that night like it was yesterday. Cheers to the happy couple. Cheers to my Gregger. And cheers to happy secrets that turn into even better surprises!




Family Celebrations of Love

familyBig affairs were always some of the happiest times in our lives, and with my family they were (and are) neverending! Birthdays, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, and now weddings! We believe in celebrating the HAPPY TIMES! My mom’s motto – don’t wait for the “unhappy”- life is too short not to CELEBRATE. So celebrate we did. But this weekend was different for me. I was missing my “half.” I had to face the music alone, dance to my own beat. The anticipation and anxiety was excruciating – stomach rumbles, sleepless nights, and incessant jitters. They slowly subsided in the presence of my incredible family who provided so much love and support.

sibsEvery family has it’s schtick, it’s drama. The Bronska family is no exception. You get this clan together (27 and counting) and the crazies come out, but through it all, the love endures. Crazies or not, I would not have made it through without them – my kids (AMAZING!), my parents, my crazy sibs, in-laws, and a slew of nieces and nephews.

“The love of a family is life’s greatest blessing.”

Well my family is truly mine. They sensed when the tears were rising to the surface, when I needed a solid hand or the touch on my shoulder. No words needed. They were just there.

“Family means putting your arms around each other and being there.”

These crazies gathered from all over the country to witness the marriage between my beautiful niece, Ali and her dashing partner, Patrick. Elegant, charming, and “Ali-touched,” the wedding was magnificent! But I wanted Gregger to witness the joyous occasion. I wanted him to see his Ali girl walk down the aisle transformed from little girl to exquisitely angelic bride. It rained a little during the ceremony. I believe they were teardrops from heaven, Gregger’s way of saying,”I wish I was there.”

But he was there thanks to Ali. She made sure he had his “own” place, memorialized with pictures, quotes, and candles. This act exceeded the boundaries of love, compassion, and kindness. Ali brought her Uncle Greg back to us. Gregger was in the room.  2015-04-25 20.40.40

I saw him, heard him all night long. The songs made me cry. Whether it was Ashley and Tyler’s wedding dance, “our” song, or a distant memory, I had some rough moments, but someone was always there to grab my arm, hug me tight or hold my hand. Lucky me! And then, I got on the dance floor and got my groove on. I smiled. I laughed. But most of all, I loved my family. I would not have survived without THEM! I am so blessed. We are so blessed. Crazies, drama, and all the schtick! Love is all that matters! And I love them all!

 family 2


Did You Ever Know That You’re My Hero?

imageWhat is a hero? Through the eyes of a child, it may be the Supermans, Spidermans, and Batmans who save the planet, the superhero with super powers. To others it might be a friendly stranger, a brother, sister, mom or dad.  A hero makes this world a better place. Their statement may be big or small, but their impact is unspeakable. Gregger was my hero. Would he be described as heroic by typical standards? Maybe not. But to me, he was a hero. He was courageous, good-hearted, generous, a survivor, and he ALWAYS put everyone else’s wellbeing above his own. He “saved” me in so many ways. He helped me discover the true me. He encouraged me to believe in myself. He gave me the strength to deal with the tragedy of his loss. He was kind, giving, loving, and compassionate. He didn’t meet a person who didn’t become his friend. I believe that captures the essence of a hero.

On August 30th, my hero could no longer save himself in the waters of Maui. He fought his final struggle and drew his last breath, but I believe he had two heroes with him that day. He passed the buck. The day started out as one of our best. We left Wailea heading to the beaches in Kaanapali for a day of swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing. After a long 45 minute drive into no man’s land we arrived at a nearly deserted beach. Ashley and I were annoyed because we just wanted to plant our lazy butts in the sand and catch some Maui rays. All we could see was an outhouse, an okay beach, and clouds. Get us to Black Rock! So we piled back into our family mini van and back to Lahaina we trekked. The mood was a bit edgy as we all just wanted to get where we were going! Family VACATION FUNTIME! Park, unload, lug, and land! Ashley and I planted ourselves in the sand and the boys headed off to check out the snorkeling situation. Gregger was geared up for the water. For some reason I was a “jiggly” inside. I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted him to wear a vest, but they weren’t renting them that day. Typical Gregger…”I’ll be fine! What are you worried about?”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEverything captured on film, we took our typical beach photos…Ash & Gregger, Ash & Tyler, Ash & Ryan, Gregger & me, and all the other combos. Two of each, just in case. One hugging, one kissing. Final words…”I love you. I love you too.” And off he went – into the water chasing after Ryan and Tyler with snorkeling gear dangling by his side. The beaches were crowded. People jumping off Black Rock, shouting, hooping and hawing. Ashley and I were fairly relaxed, but I was edgy not knowing where the boys had gone. Suddenly we heard screams of “Help! Help!” They were far off in the distance and we assumed it was the crazies jumping off the cragged rock. The cries kept getting closer and soon we were hearing “911.” My heart was racing. I remember yelling at Ashley that something was wrong and running from my chair. As I dashed to the edge I caught sight of Gregger’s bathing suit floating toward us, and I knew. At that moment, I knew. I screamed. I fell to the sand and I remember someone grabbing my arms. Suddenly crowds of strangers were holding me, hugging Ashley and me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGregger made it to the shore that day because of two special heroes..my son, Ryan, and my son-in-law, Tyler. Their courage and strength in the most difficult of situations could only be described as heroic. At one moment Gregger was smiling underwater and giving a thumbs up. Seconds later Ryan realized something was terribly wrong and reached out for him. He screamed for Tyler and between the two of them, they safely pulled Gregger in. They took off his mask, flipped him on his back, and pushed, pulled, shoved, and screamed until  help arrived. Gregger would have called them his heroes. The quick reaction to save him in such an incredibly difficult situation could only be described as heroic. The paramedics, fire fighters, and doctors worked on Gregger relentlessly. Tyler prayed in the sand at his feet, while Ryan prayed by his side. It felt like the world was praying, but God had decided he wanted the Gregger that day. Whether his mom was calling (it was the 10th anniversary of her death) or they just needed another one of the “good” guys “upstairs,” we’ll never know. Whatever it was, someone else won the battle. But, my two boys were the heroes that day. They saved their hero and brought him to us so we could say “goodbye.”

There were a lot of heroes that day. The strangers on the beach holding us, praying for Gregger, keeping us safe. The paramedics, firefighters, and doctors fighting tirelessly to bring back his heartbeat. The chaplain who stayed by our sides for HOURS providing comfort, kind words, and support. We would not have survived without these people. But, my SUPERHEROES on August 30th were Ryan and Tyler. I will forever be grateful to them for their courageous efforts and strength for bringing my HERO back to me, to us.

“Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you’re scared to death.”

Who is your hero?   image