Empowering From the Heart  2

Never give up on what you believe in. Stay true to your purpose, your mission and your core values. The only one that can “derail” one is oneself!

April 2010 the House voted in the Mark Wandall traffic Safety Act that gives communities in Florida the consent to install red light safety cameras to reduce the risk of being seriously injured or killed by red light runners. A red light runner killed my husband Mark.

The love for my husband Mark and our daughter, Madisyn Grace; born just 2 short weeks after this preventable crash fuels my endless desire to never give in to the skepticism, fear and negative “opinions” brought on by the opposition.

I am a “tireless” advocate and I will see through the longevity of the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act. Each preventable crash protects a life from injury or death and in turn reduces economic impact to our communities. Yes; even if it is one life.

The Red light safety cameras are absolutely doing what they were designed to do. The cameras are not failing our communities; due to fear SOME of our elected officials are failing our camera programs that were put in place to protect our communities.

As I look back on this video from four years ago I still feel the pain as I did that day but I forever march forward because I know that my advocacy has saved some family from wearing my grief-laden shoes. We all have to pick our battles in life. Do not ever give up on your mission but know when to give in and work with people that may not necessarily share your compassion for your cause but are willing to compromise on a solution that works for the health and safety of all involved.

As I look back on this video I am also reminded of the constant love and belief that I had in my heart to pass this bill that still remains with me today. I have not wavered I still believe that this program will continue to heal, give hope and save lives for years to come.

Nonsense, both political and otherwise will come and go. It is unfortunately a part of our society today. It is we who have to look at ourselves and remember how and why we got here in the first place. With grace, purpose and a pure heart.

Your heart will shine through your mission and empower others. Don’t ever give up on yourself or your cause and your cause will never give up on you.

Time & Courage to Face the Empty Space  0

It has been 10 years and it still aches as if it has been 10 minutes. Life is furiously passing me by. I am strong. I have dealt with my husband’s death but not the aftermath that piles up such as the closet, the drawers, the pictures, the same bedroom set. Can you relate?

People often comment on my being so courageous. Am I really?

As I look around my home (10 years later) my husband’s physical life still has a position in our home. In every room, corner and closet.

I believe my fear is that the last remnants of my husband physically living in our home will now be absent due to his substantial presence that he so faithfully depicted.

If I clean out, get rid of or throw away his material presence will the vast hole in my heart “grow” beyond repair?  Or will that hole slightly diminish knowing his love is still present and cannot be depleted by physically removing items out of our home that we shared.

With the absence of his “items” will there be a fresh vibrant space that will allow new “light” to shine in? I am reminding myself that unlike materialistic “things” Love is ever- present, everlasting and irreplaceable.

In my heart I know it has never been about tangible “things” that has kept his memory alive but about the intangible gift of love that has lived on and taken on a new form in his untimely noticeable absence.

I have never felt it necessary to clean out until now. In order to move through my personal grief journey and not get “wedged” in it –it is time. I know now that getting rid of the “things” will not take the immeasurable love away that I was so privy to receiving when Mark was physically present in our home. In fact I can hear him whisper– “Clean out! Get Rid! Let it all go.” The murmur awakens me; in my mind I see that playful smirk on his face – one that conveys to me, “ I will always be with you, no matter the time, distance or space. “ Comfort has set in and I am now ready to clear the clutter.

I have judged myself harshly and have kept this a secret to the outside world for fear of being criticized. No matter where we are in our grief journey (whether it be 10 minutes or 10 years) none of us has the right to be critiqued.   We did not enter this journey voluntarily. From the moment we lost our partners, life took on a whole new formula. We were headed down one road and suddenly hit a big curve! We had to take a turn down a road that was unknown; there was no map and no GPS to guide us. We all took the road that we were most comfortable knowing at the time.

I am writing this in hopes that someone else out there is seeking solace.

We are in this together. We are a force to be reckoned with and each of us has our uncomfortable grief space that we are terrified to share for fear of judgment.

Trust me…trust yourself…you will know when the time is right.

If you can relate, I am hoping that by sharing my “space” it will ultimately allow you to know that wherever you are in this process it is exactly where you need to be.

*This post was first written for Modern Widows Magazine. http://modernwidowsclub.com

One Great Guru!  0

One of my deepest desires is to sit down next to my sister Tammy and tell her how she has shaped my life in such a positive way because of who she was in this life. To thank her for giving me the will, strength and grace to be a survivor no matter what circumstance I might find myself in.

My sister Tammy was 10 when she was diagnosed with Bone Cancer. A 10 year old who loved to play outdoors, an avid softball player, musically gifted and a natural “jokester.” From the moment she was given the news by my parents she became a survivor. A very wise young girl she would take on her chemotherapy and radiation with “gusto.” Giving up was not an option for her. For 5 long years she battled this disease! She battled still laughing, still loving and still surviving!
In a moment she could have just said, “I do not want to do this, poor me! Why me? Why now? But she never did; not even once! She chose to face up to this disease. My older sister lost her battle with cancer at just 141/2 years old on March 29, 1980. She lost her battle as a survivor not a victim.
That sister of mine taught my whole family that life is a choice and that falling prey as a “victim” was not an option.

Tammy possessed such great strength in this life – to boldly move through each moment of her life not knowing what she was in for next. She would always find hope and to me that was a miracle in of itself. As a very young teenager she knew her chance of living a long life was most unlikely yet she set out to live each day as if it were a marvel.
I was a child, a bystander at best watching every event unfold in her young life. I watched her battle, observed her every move and learned life through her young eyes.

The day she passed I was 12 years old. I remember promising her and God that there would be nothing in this life that I could not over come or handle. If she could go through 5 years of agonizing hell and take it all without complaint than I would graciously accept whatever challenges I would encounter in this life. I am grateful for that sister of mine. Through her life I learned to live, to not take life for granted and to always hold on to the love and not the loss.

As her life ended mine progressed. In it I took every lesson that she taught me and utilized it in my life. I got married and carried her with me at my wedding ceremony. I felt blessed every moment and was grateful for every piece of love in it.
The unthinkable happened. My husband of 1 year and 5 days was killed in a negligent car crash.
In my beautiful husbands untimely passing we were 9 months pregnant with our first daughter Madisyn Grace.
She was born just two weeks after his death. Holding on to my sister’s memory, her will to never give up, her strength and my promise to her and God kept me in motion and has to this day.

I will be forever grateful for that sister of mine. Without her insight and bravery I may have possibly folded upon the death of my husband. I will never know? What I do know is that I have been touched by such love that perseverance and resiliency are the only options in this girl’s life!
If my sister were here today I would simply thank her for being the great guru that has shaped and impacted my life in an optimistic and loving manner. Thank you my “Great Guru “ for teaching me how to be a survivor! I am grateful!

Who is/was your “Great Guru?” I would love for you to share!

This post was written for Modern Widows Magazine! What a great magazine for any one seeking …both Widows/Widowers! Please go to http://modernwidowsclub.com to find out how you can subscribe! Most Grateful, Melissa

10/24/13 An Honored Love Lives on  2

IMG_2633- always my support IMG_2629-the great love IMG_2628-A kiss IMG_2627- take the cake       Today marks 10 years that you were taken so suddenly. It is unimaginable that I have walked these last 10 years without your physical presence. Your love changed my life and I live my life in gratitude (in part) because of it. I fell in love with your pure heart! When your love entered my life it became a huge part of who I am today. No time, space or distance will ever lessen my deep love for you. Our attachment to one another is still on a deep level- just in another way. My belief is that once you have loved someone- you don’t just stop. Your love will run through my veins for the rest of my life.

I am much less since you were taken in a tragic and preventable car crash yet I am much more because of who you were and how you loved me in this life and the magnitude of love that you have surrounded me with in your Death.

There will never be a day in my life where I will not mourn your absence.
You taught me to visualize, believe and achieve!
You taught me there is nothing in this life I cannot accomplish (if I believe in it) and that you would always support me! You showed me this in life and you have showed me this in spirit.

I thought that losing you in a moment was hard.
Raising our daughter without you is excruciating.
She needs your love, understanding and advice.
There is a slight emptiness about her that I cannot begin to satisfy.
“They” say that what you’ve never experienced you could never miss.
That is not true when it comes to the value of the human soul! I believe you are the “slight emptiness” in our daughter’s life.

When we married we promised to love, serve and protect each other well.
When you passed that night at that intersection I was able to come say goodbye. Once again I promised you I would love, serve and protect our family well and that I would make sure our daughter would be born into love and light, not tragedy or negativity. My promise to both you and our daughter is ever present in our lives today.
I do not believe that a vow dies when one spouse has to physically live on this earth without the other.
I believe that love goes on just in a different form; I have vowed to show our daughter just this.

I will always honor your memory through THE MARK WANDALL FOUNDATION (http://themarkwandallfounadation.org). I will educate and raise awareness regarding traffic safety and compliance through the NATIONAL COALITION FOR SAFER ROADS.(http://ncsrsafety.org) I will always make sure that the Mark Wandall traffic safety act is protected! “Those” that do not believe cannot stop me! Your love is much bigger than any of the negativity that people throw at me. I will continue to inspire and educate people on the value of life insurance and that LIFE INSURANCE TRULY EQUALS LIFE ASSURANCE! You were a gift to the financial industry! You “practiced what you preached.” You are a legacy in the Industry that you loved so much.

Through all of our causes I will show Madisyn Grace how great her father was in this life! I will show her what love truly is and never to accept anything less than the love that her father and her mother shared!

Love is a gift to be never taken for granted.
Our love together was not long enough and in fact it was way too short
but I will take that love and be grateful for it because most are never privy to experience a love like ours in a lifetime.

Your loss was my greatest fear in this life.
I miss you. I love you in so many ways! I am completely shattered and lost without you but I have truly been “Marked by Grace.” If that is the gift that I am given in this lifetime then I will take it, be grateful for it and share it always.
Continue to guide and support me. Help me to never lose faith, to always be on the side of hope and forever surround me with Grace.
May your gracious love always be present! I will forever be grateful for your life, your love and the resiliency to keep moving through each and every moment without you.

Today I celebrate you my love and the gift of love you so profoundly bestowed on my heart.

*There was never a moment in our lives where we were not laughing, loving or taking care of each other!
The pictures included in this blog are a grand, simple example of this.


IMG_2374I must share a great gift our 9-year-old Madisyn received this morning.

We were heading out the door to go to school. Our car is parked in the garage. Madisyn yells that she is going ahead of me and will open the garage door and get in the car.
As she opens the garage door she hears a whisper….”go outside the garage, go outside the garage”…she is lured out in the beautiful sunshine and sees this magnificent, fragile heart laying there for her to claim.
She shrieks with excitement, pride and nothing less than sheer love and knowing, “Mamma, Mamma…hurry, look what I got!”

Chills! Instinctively I knew exactly where the gift of the heart came from but still curious as to what her response would be I asked her, “Where do you think that came from?”
She said “mamma, I know…it is a gift from my dad saying “good morning, I luv you!”

My heart beams and I treasure these moments always. I say a silent thank you to Mark. Madisyn was born just two short weeks after her daddy’s life was tragically taken. She was never able to physically feel his touch but she has been able to spiritually feel his presence. He has made his presence known to her and she has always felt his love. His way of connecting to her has always been through hearts. Not because I have found them or told her but because she has found them and told me! Mark has assured Madisyn that his heart is always with her and his love is ever present in her daily life. (Even 9 years later)!

I wanted to share this with you all today because if someone is seeking don’t ignore or be afraid of the signs. Be open to receive! Take the time in your deep loss to reflect, to look around you and hear the “whispers. We have all had signs of love. We feel it but we don’t embody it. We shrug it off as a coincidence. When you truly grasp the idea that life goes on; your heart will open up to these beautiful experiences. I am in gratitude for your time and ability to open your heart, mind and soul to endless possibilities gifted by spirit.

Do you have spiritual stories that you would like to share? I would be honored to receive!