My 31st birthday, the day my world started to fall apart. I was so excited for a new chapter in my life. I had finally finished the ugly divorce with my ex that previous year, I was ready for the magic of my 30s to finally begin.

I decided to celebrate the magic with a joy-filled experience embracing our inner child. One of my favorite things to be is a goofball experiencing the fun-without-worry that children have. So, I held the first part of my birthday at a trampoline gym! I reserved an area so we could all jump together. Some also played dodgeball and others sat on the sidelines capturing the moments of the ear-to-ear smiles across everyone’s faces.

Everyone was there, friends, friends of friends because they wanted to take part in this birthday extravaganza, most of my family except for my sister who was graduating in New York City in a couple of days and my Dad who decided he was too old. He was planning on going to the second part of my birthday at a bar later that evening. We had a good 45 minutes to an hour of sweat shaking satisfaction before my Mom had gotten her highest jump of the night yet. The jump where she ended up landing on one of the dodge balls thrown putting an instantaneous end to the party.

Immediately, we are all rushed off of the trampoline to stop the movement as my Mom of five children enters into Lamaze breathing and speaking in tongues. The pain is taking over her body. An ambulance arrives. I call my Dad who says he’ll drop off the gluten-free cupcakes and then head to the hospital before packing for tomorrow’s trip to New York to see my sister graduate. I respond “No Dad, you don’t get it. I don’t think you will be going.” I tell him that they just drugged up Mom with morphine, her leg is all discombobulated, you need to stop, drop, and roll straight to the hospital.

I show up to the second part of my birthday an emotional wreck. Friends are offering me words of encouragement, yet I could barely talk as I was in shock. They told me to leave and not to worry about them. Thankfully a friend ended up driving me to the hospital.

By the time I arrived at the hospital, they had given my Mom the drug that momentarily “kills” you so that she could have her leg straightened back out again. She was beyond loopy and within minutes of me being there, she kept apologizing for ruining my birthday. Apparently, her original goal that day was to hold back some other awful news and while on Morphine she could no longer hold it in… Gramma, my favorite person in the world had been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer and given three months to live. All the walls came crashing down on me. It was lung cancer and she had never smoked a day in her life!

Needless to say, my parents did not attend my sister’s graduation and she was very upset about it. My Mom didn’t come home for two months, instead, she had one painful surgery after another at one of the top hospitals, OHSU, they called my Mom’s knee breaks one of the top three breaks that year. Sadly, over the next couple of years, my mom ended up with eight excruciating surgeries in all!

This birthday month ended up my worst nightmare. Spending time between my Gramma an hour away, or at the hospital where my Mom continued speaking in tongues because of agonizing pain, she was in. Then to top it off, my ex-husband decided to sue me for reasons beyond my belief.

How did I manage? How could I function? I didn’t realize it immediately, yet depression also started to creep in. The financial stress started to take place as well since I was now interviewing attorneys to support a defense against my ex.

I’d go to the office and stare into my computer as if I was seeing its soul. I worked, yet my head was not there. I felt attacked from all angles that month. Watching your Mom in so much pain and then the body and hair of your Gramma whittle away is more than heartbreaking on top of having to legally fight someone you loved once so deeply- a confusing situation that is insane to me.

My body, soul, and spirit started going numb and my doctors wanted to put me on antidepressants, though I didn’t listen because I prefer no drugs in my body.

How did I survive?

If I were to boil it down, I’d say my saving grace was that I was open to receive. I allowed myself to receive support and love from friends. A time where I could’ve easily shut out the world, I remained open. I took the invites to coffee, lunch, & dinner. The invitations to get outdoors and hike and workout were all being accepted. Spending time with my friends and family, leaning on them, and allowing myself to receive love truly is what got me through these tough times. I am so grateful.

There was no hiding available to me, word had spread about my birthday, everyone knew what was happening with my Mom, Ex, and Gramma. In my ideal world, I probably would have kept this all a secret outside of a few people. I would have bottled up inside, making the situation even heavier within me. Since this was not a choice as it was already out in the open, I was able to talk about it freely and respond to questions asked. These conversations of compassion and connection allowed me to welcome in the love and at the same time, apparently be an inspiration for many.

Never doubt the power a raw and honest conversation can have in fueling your body and soul forward. I am so fortunate. Even in the darkest moments, I chose to vocalize my feelings and experience with my friends or family. These connections were very powerful for me to remain motivated in life.

I will also share that since my Mom’s surgeries, rods have been removed from her bones, they have healed for the most part. She has gone on multiple two-week bike excursions and even ran/walked a half a marathon with my sister and I. She’s truly Mom an inspiring woman.

My Gramma made it almost 2 years before she left us, thankfully much longer than the three months diagnosed. There is not a full moon that goes by where I don’t experience being graced by the loving presence of her. Love you Gramma!

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