Every day now we’re getting closer and closer to the end of 2023, and I, like most people, can’t help but look over my shoulder at the last 351 days and think about what they’ve brought me, and what I went out and fucking created. The most impactful “gifts” the universe gave me this year are the deaths of both my parents – seventeen days apart. That felt like kindova dick-over, but also made perfect sense to me given their deep, deep commitment to each other and the fact that they were both irreversibly ill.

My mom died in the evening on January 28th – she was alone at the hospital. I’m pretty sure it was snowing in Milwaukee that day.

My daughters and I hit the road back to MKE first thing that following Monday. I didn’t know what to say to my dad when we got there. He looked … resigned. And tired. He’d been watching my mom slowly slip away over the past couple years and doing his best to help make her comfortable. It was not one of the easier weeks I’ve had in my life, but it felt great to just be with him and talk and listen a lot. He and I would talk about anything and everything any chance we got, and during that week that’s exactly what we did. We talked. And cleaned out my mom’s closet. I found her yellow Reeboks and some stale cigs. He told me stories about when they were first dating and early in their marriage. It was hard and it hurt a lot, but I loved every second of it. It was wild to picture my mom through my dad’s eyes. And it broke my heart to see his grief, though it was more logical than emotional – he was an accountant, after all.

My dad had an unfamiliar look in his eyes when I dropped him off after the funeral that Friday night. I couldn’t pinpoint it then, but I know now – it’s like he knew that was the last time we were gonna see each other. And he wasn’t trying to make a big deal about it. He just wanted me to know he loved me, and he was grateful for our time together. All of it. All of it, all of it.

My dad died at night on February 14th – around 11:30. My girls and I were 25 minutes away from the hospice he’d been moved to that morning. He was also alone. It was misty outside.

When you begin cleaning out someone else’s closet, you also start taking stock of your own. Most of the things just don’t matter so much to me now. There was very little that I wanted to hold onto. I’ve killed some relationships this year. Strengthened others. Began creating – a coaching business, this website & blog. Found the fun. Carried on traditions. Started to see myself. I mean really, really see myself. Got good with me and continue to do so. I had some more losses. Watched more loved ones hurt. Hurt alongside them. Decided to make magic instead of waiting for it to find me.

2023 can go fuck itself. But still, I don’t think I’d trade it.

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