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I think it is safe to say that there are no better milestones in life than birthdays.

The first milestone (of course) was being born on February 18, 1957. I was born on the night of the Father/Daughter dance. The dance took place at Nerix Hall High School in St. Louis where my oldest sister, Joanne was attending with our father.

Not even a minute old and my first milestone has already been created: I interrupted my sister’s dance with our father.

“Funny” how that milestone is still talked about today by my sisters!

There are many common milestones we all experience in life that relate to our birthday. Three come to mind immediately:

  • Turning 16 provided us the eligibility to start driving and gain some independence. Even if our parents are paying for the insurance.
  • Turning 18 provided us with the eligibility to vote and a sense of civic responsibility.
  • Turning 21 gave us the ability to “legally” drink alcohol.

Then there are the decade milestones when we hit those magical number in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and hopefully, beyond.

One of the most difficult milestones in two lives, happened just four years ago on my 57th birthday. It was when Richard and I were at his appointment with the radiation oncologist. I remember the appointment vividly, not so much for what the radiation oncologist told us (I’ll get to that in just a bit), but rather, by the way Richard greeted me when I walked into the examination room.

On that morning, I had another commitment and had to meet Richard at the doctor’s office. Thankful for the help from my sister Merrille, I did not have to worry about getting Richard to his appointment that day.

As the story was told, Richard was adamant to have something for me upon my arrived at the doctor’s office.

I think the picture tells the story!

Sure, I remember the information the radiation oncologist gave us that day which forever impacted our lives. However, the lasting impression of that day was not the knowledge that Richard’s cancer has spread throughout his little body. No, the lasting impression I have from that day is even in the midst of his pain, Richard was focused on making me happy!

His act of focusing on me while he was in pain, is the essence of true love, care, and commitment, and one of the many reasons why I still miss him quite a bit.

We all deal with grief in our own way. Just as there are no two caregiving journeys alike, there are no journeys along the path of grief that are the same, too. The one common thread that keeps coming back to me is story sharing, and the healing component story sharing brings to me (us).

Story sharing leaves a lasting imprint in our memories which will last a lifetime. I am creating a new chapter in my life; story sharing has helped me move from my grief, too.

May I be so bold and suggest, as you feel comfortable, share your caregiving story with others. The reason? I believe it is through story sharing where diversity meet the road to combat a common cause. That’s because there is no gender, orientation, or economic boundaries when it comes to caregiving and grief; we are all in this together.

Story sharing connects those who care for others and allows us to find healing and strength when caregiving ends.

Thank you for supporting the Whole Care Network and allowing me to continue to share my story!

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