I traveled to Chicago with my babies about 3 months after I lost Mitch. His parents lived there for a short time and we traveled there nearly any chance we could. They lived in a skyscraper that was steps from Navy Pier and had a view of the lake that was brilliant. What a beautiful city, so full of life, good food, and amazing memories.

My trip to Chi-town was one of my first plane trips I took with the kiddos after my husbands fatal crash. We had driven many places since his death but I had not dared to board a plane with my 2 young kids and go it alone. My children were seasoned travelers even at their young age, but doing it by myself seemed impossible, exhausting, and like the beginning of a new chapter I was not yet ready to write.

Finally I took the pen and I turned the page on my great life novel, and we boarded the plane to Chicago. Each second of our flight was bittersweet. Watching young couples board the plane holding hands. Seeing a father carry his newborn past me as I sat in my seat feeling terribly alone, and suddenly scared. You see, I’m the words most independent woman, but the reality of my new life made me feel vulnerable and tremendously lonely.

Arriving in Chi-town we were greeted by my amazing father-in-law who took me and the kiddos in his arms. I noticed the weight in his eyes. He is a very honorable man, and his face told the story of a man who felt he needed to shelter and protect his son’s wife and kids. I don’t like to *need* protection and help, but for a little while it was welcomed because solo parenting compounded with grieving is exhausting in a way not possible to put into words.

The next day my mother-in-law told me to take Addy shopping on Michigan Ave. and she offered to stay with my son. She wanted to give us some quality mother and daughter time without the stress of 2 kiddos. We gladly took her up on the offer and off I went with my beautiful 3 year old. We boarded the trolley and rode it up to the bustling street that attracts people from all over the world. I remember walking off the trolley and looking up at the skyscrapers that surrounded us. As if experiencing a scene in a movie, time seemed to suddenly stand still. We were surrounded by thousands of people, loud noises, dogs barking, and I have never in my entire life felt more alone, more sad, or more forgotten than that very moment. Here I was, widowed at 36, surrounded by life moving at the fastest possible speed, and my life was stuck on October 9, 2009. Looking at me standing there you would never know the pain I lived with, you would never guess the agony disguised in my heart, and you would never grasp the fact that even breathing felt impossible.

You may be loved by many. You may be supported by all. You may be eternally blessed or forever thankful, but you are allowed to feel 100% alone, hopeless, sad, and forgotten. You are grieving. Life is not okay for now. You are allowed all of these emotions.

I gathered myself, pulled it together, and took my beautiful daughter out for a day we both remember with beautiful memories. This picture was taken on our lunch out that afternoon. It was a day I will never forget because it was the day I gave myself permission to be pissed as all hell at what life had handed us, but I also gave myself permission to get back up and try one more time. Some days are easier than others, but every single day I do it for them, and I do it for me. Each day is a new page as I write the chapters of my book. The great story of my life is still unfolding and only I hold the pen. I plan on making my novel a best seller.