I have been looking for the words to express the gratitude I have felt this year.

When 2015 started I was engaged to a man that I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. I was happy to welcome and love his 7 year old daughter into my life. On April 3 I found out he had been cheating on me and the relationship ended and I lost the girl who would be my daughter. My heart broke into a million pieces. It was around this time that I had also handed over the reins in my job to another to take over as I was starting a new adventure with the company in a different position. After 7 years I said good bye to a part of my identification. July 9, I received news that my best friend, soul mate, mother had stage 4 cancer throughout her body and a very short 42 day later I said my final goodbye. In December I was in a car accident and told my car was likely a write off.

When 2015 started I knew that I would experience life altering changes. In March, I started training my replacement at work and learned how to let go of my attachments to how I thought the job had to be done. I learned to support and encourage another even while feeling like they had made a mess of something I had taken so much pride in previously.

In April, I worked through what felt like the end of the world as my heart broke into a million pieces. I learned how strong I could be as I picked up the pieces and carried on. In May, I would take my first solo trip. I had finally learned to love my own company and to enjoy a meal at a restaurant alone. I took the time I needed to release the grief of the loss of relationships and I found peace in my heart as I watched the ring of promise bounce off a rock only to be swept away in the rush of the roadside water fall.

July tested my ability to function while grieving. To be organized and multitask making final arrangements, move a household and clear up an estate so that everything was in place when the time came. I was left in awe as my friends showed up to support me in any way needed from driving, cooking, cleaning and generally giving me a shoulder to weep on. My employer arranged for me to be off to spend my time looking after my family as we prepared for the departure of our mom from the worldly plain to that of the spiritual.

On August 19 when mom took her final breath I experienced the love of my co-workers as they held me while I cried and helped me get safely to my family to tell them the news. In the days to follow my friends, family and complete strangers showed me love, grace and compassion as I completed the steps to finalize the passing of my mom. As a family we traveled to BC to spread her ashes, the five of us stuffed into the car for over 9 hours. The ride was filled with laughter and care for one another. Each of us aware that the other was hurting and doing what we could to ease their heart. Once we arrived we were met by and aunt and uncle and a new relationship was formed. One built on mutual respect. As a family we connected and talked openly about our heart pain. There was no hiding from one another, only love and acceptance. On the Saturday half her ashes were spread in a beautiful place where she had spent many happy days hiking. Both of her hiking friends joined us and together we said good-bye. After dinner the 5 of us headed back to our hotel but stopped to bowl first and have some fun. Sunday we five hiked to the top of the mountain and said our final good bye while releasing the last of her ashes to blow away in the wind.

September, October, November would be a time of grief and growth. Learning in the form of a writing class and management class were started. Relationships grew stronger and I have got stronger, more balanced in myself once more.

December’s car accident was confirmation that my mom is looking over me and keeping me safe. It was her voice I heard yelling stop, her arms I felt wrapping around me while my front bumper ripped away from my car and the lady slammed into the light post. Although I banged my knee and hand and had a couple of bruises I walked away without pain. Although I was told the car would be written off I received news that very little damage occurred to my vehicle. The adjuster said it was a miracle based on the other vehicle that almost no damage occurred to my car. He is right, the miracle was the safety of my mom’s loving embrace.

So I ask you, what words can express the gratitude and love I have for the amazing friends, family and strangers that have been a part of my world for the past 12 months? I do not know that I would have made it through this year without each lesson, each moment of laughter, love or sadness. I am forever thankful to each of you who have crossed my path. I am forever indebted to each of you who took my hand and journeyed with me down the dark twists, turns and bumps until I found the light on the other side.

With all the love that I am, thank you.