Today marks 14 years since my first husband’s death. Brett died of a medulloblastoma brain tumor, which typically affects children ages five and under. Except he was 32 when diagnosed and 39 when he died.

Some anniversaries hit especially hard. This one feels that way maybe because the date nearly slipped my mind. I got caught up in the business of life, which is normal and expected.

Here I am, now in my early fifties and parenting our 16-year-old twins who weren’t even three years old when Brett died. Here I am living in Denver (always a dream of Brett’s) and remarried to a wonderful man who also happened to be widowed with two children. Here I am feeling happy and grateful while reflecting on 14 years since Brett’s death.

Today, I:

  1. Trust that the sum of my husband’s life is greater than the exact date of his death. These kinds of big losses are pervasive as air.
  2. Know that memory fades but that doesn’t mean we don’t remember.
  3. Understand stories are essential for keeping memories alive.
  4. Value life’s uncertainties. They are the gray of life — beautiful and messy at once.
  5. Appreciate and practice kindness.
  6. Welcome change. What’s the point of resisting when everything changes?
  7. Still fight sadness but know that I’m strong enough to handle my feelings.
  8. Take risks. Otherwise, I’d stay stuck, which is never an option.
  9. Am more patient.
  10. Love fiercely even though I’ve been tainted by loss. I’ll take love over fear any day.
  11. Talk and write about my experiences as a means to help others move beyond adversity and losses in their lives. Finding this purpose has more to do with living well in the present than staying rooted to the past.
  12. Hold tight to old friends.
  13. Make time to laugh. Norman Cousins was right; laughter heals.
  14. Know that resilience is about more than bouncing back. We have to integrate the lessons and the losses.

To Brett! To life!



Nancy Sharp

Award-winning author Nancy Sharp is a master of resilience and making bold change. As a top motivational speaker, she presents to corporations and organizations on resilience, change, and overcoming adversity. Nancy holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction and authored the bestselling memoir Both Sides Now: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Bold Living, recipient of eight literary awards, and a newer book for children and families called Because the Sky is Everywhere. Nancy is widely published in national media and lives in Denver, CO (how she got there is a story of resilience) along with her husband Steve, their four children, and adorable Havanese puppy Levi.
Nancy Sharp

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