All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. ~Anatole France
Sometimes you wonder if you'll ever be the same after experiencing part of life's changes and growing periods. I guess that's why those times are called life-changing events. So I suppose the answer would be no. Why would you want to be the same?
These past few months have been difficult and sweet. We have experienced answers to prayers, miracles we truly needed and only wished for, memories never to be forgotten, and devastating loss and sadness. How do you start when you can't begin?
So that's where we will start--the beginning. A brand new year! It seems so long ago, I can hardly remember our celebration of 2009--yet Christmas continues to be a wonderful memory. We spent the New Year with friends playing games and eating delicious treats. Of course we rang in the new year with our traditional toast and kiss.
January 2009 was quite uneventful for us. We continued to wait on our loan for our new medical office building. This was quite stressful and it seemed the economy drove everyone to hold back loaning any amount of money, particularly in real estate. This was an extremely volatile time for our business, yet we felt peace--although uncertain what the future would hold.
We had a great party the end of the month with our Pinegar family. We gathered at Kelly & Mike Ballard's home (our niece and nephew) and just enjoyed seeing each other after a long while. Bekah reacquainted herself with her Lockhart cousins and Price cousins. It was a fun night.
Spencer also received his Webelos badge in Cub Scouts. He's our third scout--and joined the ranks with his brothers. He has a lot to aspire to since both Nick and Alex are Eagle scouts. His Arrow of Light is next...and becoming an 11-year old scout.
February was exciting as we looked forward to going to California to see Wicked in San Francisco. It started out as a girl trip---but quickly turned into a big family getaway as the "boys" decided to join us--boys being husbands. We booked our tickets in advance and waited for the big day. Bekah joined us for her birthday celebration--even though her birthday wasn't until March. We were supposed to go with Steve and Mary Ann, Christine & Paul, Heather and Jared, Steph and Bekah---but Mary Ann's health took a turn for the worse, and she and Steve were not able to go with us. So instead, my nephews, Peter and Patrick flew in for the great Wicked night. The show was incredible! If you haven't seen it--It's time to put it on your must-do list. We loved it and wished we would have taken all of our kids to see it. We also enjoyed a day in San Francisco with our Peter, Patrick, Heather, Aunt Christine, Uncle Paul and our San Francisco cousins, Nathan and Kevin. We had a blast touring Chinatown--even eating a Chinese breakfast-Dim Sum that Bekah said she'll never eat again...we'll see about that.
Along with seeing Wicked, the highlight of our trip was being with the Buchan family. We can't seem to get enough of them. We enjoyed seeing Uncle Steve--seen here with Rebekah...and our Aunt Mary Ann. She continued to be in high spirits--even though she was suffering from the effects of her recent chemo. She always had a happy face on for us and words of love and good advice. Rebekah will always remember this time as it was the last time she would spend with her sweet Aunt Mary Ann.
As Jared and Bekah arrived home to Nick's 19th birthday, Stephanie decided to stay in California with Mary Ann, Steve and Heather. Mary Ann's health had declined rapidly in just a few short days, and we knew each day and week was a blessing. Jared and his mom, along with all of Mary Ann's sisters and brothers were able to visit her before she peacefully passed away on March 2, 2009. At the exact time she passed away, a very heavy rainstorm passed through and it seemed the heavens wept with us. Only a little while later, the sun beamed through and we knew Mary Ann had made it safely to paradise to be with her dad and other family members--even our sweet baby, Jacqueline-- who passed away 14 1/2 years ago. We still can't believe Mary Ann is gone. But we know through the gospel of Jesus Christ that we will see her again in the spirit and someday in the flesh. That we will enjoy the same relationship we had with her in this life.
Mary Ann's funeral was beautiful, just like she was. Faith, Courage and Love drove her to accomplish many things in life, particularly while she was sick with breast cancer. She continued her real estate career and inspired other cancer patients at her Hooters Club. She traveled to see the LDS church history sites with Steve and visited Hawaii again. In January, she and Steve went to see her oldest son in Maryland to make sure he was settled with his new career move. Last fall, she was invited to speak at the Relay for Life and give hope to those fighting cancer. She received a letter from the director of the Relay for Life, Nolan Yaws in which he told her, "Never have I seen someone so determined and so strong, Never have I seen someone so compassionate and so caring. Never have I seen someone so witty and joyous while fighting such a horrible disease. I want you to know that no matter what happens...no matter how things turn out, you have touched my life and filled me with a memory I will never forget."
We don't know if we could say it better--but our lives will never be the same because of Mary Ann. We have spent our lives loving her and her family. She has been the sunshine that sparkled into our lives over many visits, trips and phonecalls. We're not sure if there is a happy without her. But her example of strength and looking positively at every trial, never complaining--even at the loss of her own life, makes us believe happiness comes from within, and that we choose our own degree of happiness. That her faith, courage and love can become ours.
A miracle happened the day Mary Ann passed away, our 3-year long medical office building project funded. So in the midst of deep sadness and despair, we had not been forgotten. The Lord had answered us...though it seemed so small compared to losing our sister. We grew a lot that day--a reality check to what was truly important.