2 Deaths and 1 Master’s Thesis

Nov 24, 2014

The last couple months have been a whirlwind of emotion and hard work, and as things begin to settle back down in my life, I have more to be thankful for now than ever.

In October, my dear father-in-law, Dennis passed away of ALS and my sweet grandma Kezele passed away of pancreatic cancer. Amidst all of that, I was deep into writing my Master’s thesis - a very difficult task to focus on during such an emotional time.

Two and a half years ago when my father-in-law was diagnosed with ALS, my husband and I decided to be 100% part of his journey and caregiving team by living in my in-law’s guest house and supporting my mother-in-law with his care. It has been a heart wrenching, yet beautiful journey that I feel so blessed to have been part of. The photo above is from a family trip we took to Canyon Lands National Park 2 years ago for the New Year.

DSC_1244Dennis met his disease head-on with humor and a fierce determination to live life to its fullest until the very end. Although he lost his ability to speak, he was cracking jokes just hours before he passed away by spelling words out with his hand on the bed sheets. He was a man who I greatly admired for the successful life he built. Not only was he a successful business owner, but he was successful in other ways too: he and my mother-in-law were happily married for over 30 years, he had an amazing group of close friends who he went on fun adventures with, he had a great sense of humor but knew when it was appropriate to be serious, he had hobbies and interests that he excelled in, like woodworking, cooking and dancing and he was a wise father who served as a loving mentor to his children, and later to me, until the day he died.

The photo above shows my husband speaking to the 200 plus people who attended Dennis’s memorial celebration. Rather than a sad and solemn funeral, Dennis wanted us to celebrate his life with by throwing a party with a bon fire and dancing to 60s music. That is exactly what we did.

P1000992One week after Dennis passed away my grandma Kezele passed away. My grandma was the jolliest, most loving woman I know. Her eyes twinkled with warmth, kindness and acceptance and she always gave me a big bear hug and cheek squeeze every time I saw her…usually that was followed by her delicious apple pie. I wasn’t able to attend my grandma’s funeral in Ohio because it took place the same week as my father-in-law’s memorial here in Colorado, but I am grateful for all of the wonderful memories I have with her - the last being on the Oregon coast at my Dad’s wedding where she met my husband Robert.

Amidst these deaths and the emotions and visitors that came along with them, I was waist deep into writing my thesis for my Masters Degree. My paper’s first complete draft was due the week after Dennis passed away, and I don’t how this happened, but my professor returned my paper with the following comment: “Jessie May, WOW! This is the highest grade a student has ever earned on the Draft assignment. You should be very proud of yourself.” Indeed I was.

After an exceptionally challenging final quarter, I am overjoyed to announce that I’m done with my paper and I’m a Master! My degree is from the University of Denver in Organizational Communications with a New Media and Internet Marketing focus and a certificate in Development and Training. I know…it’s quite a mouthful! And don’t you worry, I’m using this degree to bring YOU, my wonderful tribe and clients, even greater expertise on helping your businesses soar to success…I’m not going anywhere!

Now that my thesis is complete and we are starting to adjust to life without our loved ones, my focus is returning to my business. Diving back into my business has been an interesting process because I’ve noticed resistance, which is unusual for me. For example, facilitating events and sending newsletters feels difficult because my energy is focused inward and all I seem to want to do is hibernate and soak up the wonderful feminine energy of just “being” that I’ve been enjoying so much lately. Slowly but surely, however, I am coming back; and I can tell that I’m coming back stronger than ever. Just like a bone that heals stronger than before it was broken.

Considering the challenging past couple of months, I feel an immense amount of gratitude for my life, the people in it, and the experiences I have been blessed with.

I’m grateful for my loving and supportive community, for my close friends, and my incredible family who I feel so honored to get to share this life with. I’m grateful for simple moments of wonder and awe as I look out across this beautiful Colorado landscape where I live. I’m grateful for morning snuggles with my husband and our dog in our warm, cozy bed that my father-in-law made us as a wedding gift. And I am thankful for having the perseverance and vision that has been required to build my own successful, fulfilling and impactful business.

I wish you all the happiest Thanksgiving ever and I’m curious…what are you thankful for this year?

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