This year on Sweetest Day, I find myself realizing that it’s been twelve years. 12 years with, 12 years without. On October 19th, 2001, I was doing one of the things that I love most. Cooking. I was making breakfast for my family. It wasn’t unusual for me to be up before everyone else, putting a pot of coffee on for my parents and cooking some breakfast. I was an early bird. It was a Friday morning and my sister and I didn’t have school because of the Circleville Pumpkin Show (a huge autumn festival that basically shut everything down for one week every October). So I made pancakes and decided to try something my little 12 year old self had never done before…making sausage on my own! I felt so accomplished and couldn’t wait to show my parents and sit down and partake in this delicious breakfast. I set everything on the table, sat down, and looked up to see my dad over by Mom’s bedside. At this point in her four long years of battling brain cancer, she had hospice care at home. Moments later, dad was holding her tightly and weeping. Instantly, I no longer had an appetite. My heart sunk so low, I felt like the world stopped. I was no longer proud and excited about what I had just accomplished. Nothing mattered…she was gone. Moments like these change you. You learn quickly what is most important. The 12 years without haven’t been easy. It has been a process of finding joy even when the pain from that day catch up to me and fill me with sadness. Today, Sweetest Day, is a reminder for me to cherish the memories from the 12 sweet years that I did have with her. To find joy in that…to find joy in the fact that this is not how it ends. There is a greater story still in the process of being told. Find the sweet moments. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dark it may seem in a given moment. Find the light and hold onto it with all your might.