Letters of Hope Continued…

emptyIn the space of waiting, I realized the emptiness of the “second year.” It became quieter. Lonlier. Sometimes I felt detached. From family. Friends. It was easier just to keep to myself. Go inside. And bury myself there. It was safe. But so empty. So I turned to Gregger. For comfort. It was just a difficult time. One I would figure out. And smile on the other side.

May 31

Dear Gregger,

Well today marks 21 months since you’ve been gone. It feels like forever. Feels like a lot longer than 21 months. I’ve had ups, downs, and in betweens. I think it’s going to get easier and then it gets harder than ever. This is definitely one of those times. It will never get easy. Never. It will never be the same. Never. I say it over and over again, but the things that never change are: I miss your voice. I miss your kiss. I miss holding your hand. I miss your laugh. I miss your smile. I even miss your snore. I miss my best friend. There will never be another. No one could ever be the yin to my yang like you.

I spend a lot of time alone. Thinking. Missing you. But, these days, most of all, worrying. Worrying about Ashley. Tyler. And those babies. I started taking spin classes. You know how much I hate the bike. I think of you the whole time I’m riding. I think about how much you’d love the class. I picture your face in front of me. I picture riding to you. I picture riding with you. I close my eyes and see you there. And then I pray. I pray to you. I pray for the kids. Today I focused on positive thoughts. Positive. Positive. Positive. So I’m sending that energy to you. I’m sending that energy so you can spread all the “positive” love around. Watch over your “babies” – your little girl and her little ones. Keep them safe. I miss you and love you more than ever…until tomorrow…

positiveJune 1

Dear Gregger,

I’m a wreck. My nerves are all over the place. My stomach is in knots. I hope I can hold it together. I am trying so hard. I distracted myself tonight and went to my little friend’s baseball game. Little league. Just like when our boys played. Cute. Kids throwing balls helter-skelter. Running around the bases and not knowing where they’re going. Crying when they strike out. Funny. Distractions. But then it was over. And I came home. Quiet house. Lonely house. And back to nerves. I think about you. I talked a lot about you tonight. With Suzy. Two years ago at this time we were in NYC. Walking in Central Park. Brunching at The Smith. My how time changes. Life changes. I hold onto those precious memories like diamonds. Gold. Treasures.

I haven’t talked to Ashley for a few days. We’ve texted. I’m trying to keep my distance. I don’t want to pressure her. Make her anymore nervous. I know her nerves are crazy. So I’m asking, once again, keep her calm. I know she reaches for you. She senses you. She feels your presence. So does Tyler. My nightly prayer. Keep them safe. The “babies.” All of them. We all miss you. Life on this planet will never shine as bright. It is missing your glow. So shine your light on them. I love you so much…until tomorrow…June 2

empty 2Dear Gregger,

Well this has been one crazy day. Of course my nerves are bonkers – not even sure if I’ll be able to sleep tonight. I heard so many songs today that made me think you were speaking to me through the radio. I sing along as if I’m talking back. I always wonder if you hear me. The tears flowed. They always do. My heart aches. It always does. I never thought it could hurt that bad. It’s the worst pain I’ve ever felt. But here’s the craziest. I went to get these crazy things put in my hair. You would probably laugh. But it’s the only silly thing I can do right now. The only thing that brightens up my day. Gives me a little sparkle. Really. I’m sitting there just chatting with Sarah (the girl who does my hair) about NY. She and her girlfriend are going there next week. All of sudden I felt a jolt. My spinal cord stimulator turned on, full blast, by itself! I was looking around trying to figure out how it happened. There was nothing. It just started up. Tingling sensations all the way from my waist to the tips of my toes. I was freaking out. I almost thought you were there. You were doing it. I don’t know. What other explanation could there be? It’s happened two other times. Once at the airport in Hawaii. That time I really believe you did it. There was no other explanation. It turned off by itself. The second time was in Fry’s grocery store. That was odd. And, again, it turned off by itself. But this time, it turned on and would not turn off. Thank God I had the magnet. Otherwise I’d be stuck. So weird. If it was a sign, I’d take it anytime. I’m open. I can always turn it off. I don’t care. If not, just plain creepy.

positive 2I talked to Ashley today. She’s so nervous. Tomorrow’s the big day. She goes to the doctor at 11:40. I don’t know how long it will take after that. I will be a mess. Please watch over her. Please keep all of them safe. Please bring her happy news. She’s such a great girl. Great daughter. Sweet. Loving. Kind. Bring her happiness. Joy. Love. She and Tyler are so good together. And I know they will be so happy. So watch over all of them. Keep your big arms of love over them. We all miss you so much. I love you…until tomorrow…

I was holding my breath. I don’t think sleep would come for another 24 hours. Maybe longer. Not until we got some news…

To be continued…

A Utah Birthday Celebration

A Utah Birthday Celebration

birthdaysSo I survived Birthday 2015. Family. Friends. Support. Love. Lots and lots of love. From the break of dawn ’til the midnight hour. Texts, phone calls, FB messages, cards, photos, and more. Memories flashed. New memories made. It was a day to reflect. A day to rejoice. I focused on my blessings. Gregger kept flickering into the picture. I knew the moment I landed in Utah he was there. He would have embraced the beauty, just as I did. He would have loved the tranquility. A charming sense of peace.

I went to bed Tuesday night praying that Gregger would come to wish me a Happy Birthday. He didn’t. It was hard to sleep. I wanted my birthday to come and go. Maybe I could just sleep through it. No. We had too much to do. I had to smile. Be happy. Have fun. I could do it. I just kept telling myself it was just another day. People called. I spoke to a few, but more like an out of body experience. We were busy. Perusing Park City. Shopping. Meandering. Lunching. A little happy hour sunshine with the girls. Fun. Good to forget.

Harry 2 (1)Open cards. Hard for people to buy this year. They didn’t want to be too funny. Not too sentimental. Some made me cry. Some gave me a little chuckle. I got it. It was tough. Presents. My kids gave me really sentimental gifts. Touching. Close to my heart. Sweet. Kind. Full of love. Just like their dad. I’m not surprised.

Off to the concert. Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake. A botanical garden surrounded by a beautiful mountainous range. Magnificent. Storms swelling on the horizon. Praying they would bypass the Butte. The winds kicked up. Dark clouds formed. Harry Connick, Jr took the stage. The crowd erupted in applause. The skies opened. The sun broke through. Gorgeous. Captivating. Perfect. Birthday magic.

Harry 1And that concert was sensational. Standards. Standup. Jazz. Big Band. And love songs. Those were the ones that got me. Yep. I looked right into those heavens and cried. I wanted Gregger right there with me. Holding my hand. And then the rainbow appeared. I couldn’t see it. I strained. But Harry talked about it. He kept pointing to it. “Can you see it? Can you see it?” NO! I wanted to scream out! But I knew it was Gregger. I knew he was there with us. I knew it was my birthday sign. And just then I knew everything was going to be okay.

It was a fabulous night. I am blessed with a wonderful Utah family. Lucky to share my celebration with my in-law birthday twin. And so grateful we are able to be together. Thank you to everyone who touched my life yesterday. You touched my heart.


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.


At Least We Had Paris

At Least We Had Paris

DSC_0321I am so sad. I just read that Paris is not only banishing the tradition of “Love Locks” on the famed Pont des Arts, but removing the ones already blanketing the bridge. Gregger and I left our mark there September 2013. We promised to go back one day. We marked the spot. We took pictures. We knew just where our love lock, inscribed with our initials, remained, bearing our eternal love for one another.  DSC_0322

Apparently the locks have become a safety hazard. City hall workers will begin removing the locks to prevent the bridge from caving. I get that. But it’s like another piece of our hearts is being tossed away. Paris was our last “alone” trip together. We dreamed about that trip for so long. It was a HUGE deal for Gregger to take time off in the fall. New, exciting merchandise. Clients back in town after a long, hot summer. Push time. We vacationed in July or August when it was quiet. Gregger never wanted to miss anything or anybody. After 40 years together, I got it. So this was something special. Not just Paris, but Gregger in September!

Two weeks before our grand trip, I blew out my back. BAD! I couldn’t walk. There was no way in hell I was canceling this trip. Gregger thought we should postpone, but I was not giving up this opportunity. I chose to get poked, prodded and numbed with an epidural. It wasn’t perfect, but I was ready to rock and roll. I endured a thirteen-hour plane ride. I passed the first test. And then we were off and running. Using Fodor’s guide to Paris, we mapped out our daily plan. With only four days to cover this magnificent city, we had to be efficient.  And efficient we were. From the moment we landed, we trekked our way through the city, savoring every awesome sight. It was an amazing trip jam-packed with so many incredible memories. Paris was everything we dreamed it would be and more. We not only soaked up every ounce of history and culture, but treasured the romantic ambiance. It was exhilarating, breathtaking, and awe-inspiring!

DSC_0493We were staying smack in the middle of the Champs-Elysees, a few paces from the Arc de Triomphe. Stepping onto our balcony we could circle around to have a birds-eye view of the Eiffel Tower and Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre in one swoop. Gregger enjoyed the chill morning air with his Starbucks in hand (yes, Starbucks!) as I readied for the day. Paris was good for him. He chilled. It was good for us. We were grateful. Grateful for each other. Grateful for time. We traipsed our way from Place de la Concorde to Notre Dame Cathedral, crossing the Pont Saint-Louis bridge to sip wine on the sublime streets of Ile Saint-Louis. We got up close and personal with Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and masterpieces by the likes of Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, and Gaugin. Magical. Dreamy. Unreal. We climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe. Gregger tried to stop me. He didn’t think my back could take it. Nothing could stop me. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Let’s go. So go we did. We took a sunset cruise on the Seine. Magnificent. Breathtaking. The city of lights. We hunted the Marais for hours, searching for the ultimate falafel at L’As Du Fallafel. Our feet were numb and blistered, but Gregger got his falafel – belly full, happy man. Museums, gardens, palaces, and more – endless moments marking memories for a lifetime.DSC_0354

DSC_0352Every afternoon at 3 we stopped at an outdoor cafe. Our time. Quiet time. Gregger indulged in French onion soup, a beer. I delighted in berries, some French wine. One afternoon we struck up a conversation with our neighboring table. We exchanged pleasantries. Where are you from? What do you do? It turned out their brother-in-law lived a few streets away from us in Scottsdale and their nephew went to the same high school as Ashley! Of course, Gregger knew where they lived, people who lived by them, yada, yada, yada. The conversation was crazy. They were coming to Scottsdale. They would stop in the store and shop. And here we were on the streets of Paris. Crazy! But so much fun. Life. All part of the journey.

So Paris was full of beautiful memories. Our last special trip together. Before Hawaii. Our lock is still there, along with nearly one million others. I believe our solid love will ALWAYS be there. That can never be taken away. So while it’s sad the locks are coming down, “LOVE is everlasting; infinite. It has no boundaries and no barriers. Love, is just like the universe, forever.”  DSC_0451

The Weekend that Was

smallest step

So I did it! I made it through the Vegas weekend…I survived the travel, the memories, and a little bit of heartache. I had melancholy moments, but I also had laughter, sunshine, and joy. I felt Gregger around me, pushing me, encouraging me. He would hate some of the things I did, the way I traveled, but it sort of made me laugh. For the first time in a long time, I was making my own choices. Believe me, I would be much happier with his choices or our choices, but making my choices at this point did feel pretty good. They were silly dumb things, but that’s okay. They were still my choices and I was okay with them.

It took me a long time to be okay with my choices. That probably sounds a bit crazy, but we were young babes when we married. I went from nesting under my parent’s “wing” to living with Gregger. From the beginning he took care of me. I never really knew what it meant to take care of myself. I only knew what it was to be “taken care of” by someone else. So I let him take care of me. I let him make the decisions, the choices, for a long time, until I realized I wanted a voice too. Things slowly changed in our marriage and we grew to make choices together, but early on, I barely bought a tube of mascara without his permission. I just didn’t know any better.  think positively

While reinventing myself this weekend, I relived so many memories. I realized how we grew as individuals as well as together; how our journey gave me the strength to be here today. Suzy and I visited all of “our” favorite spots, but I got better as the days went on. We talked about the past, the present, and the future. My sis was my greatest support and I think I was able to unload a lot of “baggage,”  maybe coming home a little bit lighter.

Nothing extreme, nothing crazy, but I was out in the world, just me. If you asked me five years ago if I could do this, I would have said, “Hell NO!” I would have pictured myself buried in the comfort of my home, secure with my computer and a few shows on TV. I play the role of recluse much better than that of “bar girl.” But for a few short days it was fun to be someone and something else. I could play, I could pretend, and I then I could come back and face reality all over again. I’m ready for the newest challenges…and there are new ones every day.  I never know what will hit me next. I appreciate the reprieve, the fun, and the fancy. Until next time…


Las Vegas Trip

Lady Luck


I know I have been talking a lot about all of the “firsts” in my life lately, but right now my life is all about change. Generally I don’t do well with change. I am a woman of routine. I follow the same pattern every day, eat the same foods, and am basically one of the most boring people on the planet. Give me a plan and I’m okay, but change that plan, and it takes me a while to adapt. So these past seven months have literally thrown me into a spiral. The daily changes and adaptations are overwhelming, not to mention, the BIG ones – selling the businesses, putting the house on the market, “going out,” and now one more. I am taking my first BIG GIRL trip on my own. Well, not completely on my own. I am meeting my sister (my bestie) for her birthday in Vegas of all places. In 40 years I never did the “girl trip” – I never even did “girls night out.” Gregger and I just didn’t do that. Our time together was so limited and we really cherished our alone time. Even when the kids were little and growing up we didn’t do separate things. We ate together, watched TV together…it was just us. So stepping out to Vegas on my own…this is HUGE!

imageI am not a Vegas lover. We chose this for convenience and sunshine. My sis has suffered a horrific winter on the east coast and the best I could offer for her birthday was sunny skies and sipping martinis poolside. I will deal with the CHANGE and get through another “first.” Who knows? I may even have a little bit of fun. But first I have to walk the memories. The time our plane got diverted to LA in a violent storm and I held Gregger’s hand so tight he had bruises by the time we landed. Or our infamous trip with Ashley and Tyler when I got violently ill (yes, I drank a little too much!) and he dragged me through the lobby of the Palazzo (as I vomited into Tyler’s t-shirt), our dinners at Joe’s Stone Crab, walks on the strip, and cheering me on at the slots. Memories, memories, memories…those memories will be etched in my heart forever, but for now I’ll start making new ones. I don’t have his hand to clutch onto as the plane bounces around (I am NOT a good flyer), but I am talking to him as if he were right here with me – my guardian angel. I am ready to face what lies ahead. We’re going to play some of his favorite numbers…maybe lady luck will roll our way. Here’s to another “first,” another change, and another tomorrow.


chip chip hooray - a true love fairytale

Chip, Chip Hooray!


So February 24th was National Tortilla Chip Day…I discovered almost every food is worthy of it’s own National celebration day, but National Tortilla Chip Day, this one would probably make Gregger smile more than his birthday, our anniversary or the birth of his children! Tortilla chips – even on his worst day, these would make that man smile! Round or triangulated, slightly salty, crunchy, crispy…simply irresistible! Every night the bag awaited him accompanied by his favorite salsa…sometimes chunky, sometimes smooth…sometimes mango mixed or black bean and corn. He munched and we caught up on the events of the day…his work, my “whatever.” A night without chips was a day unfulfilled. Best dinner…NACHOS! He would choose that over rib-eye, chicken parm, or any of his other favs. Chips covered with melted cheese melted the man’s heart (along with a cold Corona Light on the side!).

Follwing an indulgent Mediterranean cruise, Gregger gave up his precious and prized chips. He, along with our son and son-in-law, decided to compete in a weight loss challenge, so he replaced his prized chips with baby carrots…UGH! He was a beast without those chips! Did he really think carrots were going to fulfill the salty, crunchy satisfaction his chips gave him each evening? I do believe it was some sort of stress relief…that chewing, chomping, crunch. I’d trade a little paunch (not that he ever had one) for the joy of his nightly tortilla indulgence.

And that man knew his chips…no Doritos or Tostitos for him…it had to be the real deal! I hit a home run the day I discovered Whole Foods homemade variety. Now, nothing was too good for the kids or me, but, when it came to him, God forbid I went a little over the top! When he saw the price tag on those chips, his immediate response was, “Are you out of your mind? Are these chips made of gold?” One bite in and he was hooked! He would savor those suckers down to the last crumb. If I dared throw out a bag with even a crumb in sight…YIKES! You would have thought I was tossing out the winning lottery ticket! I had to time the buying of these precious bags just right…three at a time so they stayed fresh and then I prayed Whole Foods had stock. If not, it meant schlepping from one W.F. to the next because a night without chips just wasn’t the same…and substituting another brand at this point just didn’t fill the bill. He could detect a phony chip slipped into the bag with his eyes closed. This guy was impossible to buy anything for (Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries), but give him the perfect chip and he was one happy man.

I still have a bag of crunched up crumbs in my pantry…I’m sure they are stale and should have been thrown out months ago…I just don’t have the heart. So cheers National Chip Day…here’s to your chips and my Gregger!