I don’t usually post personal things, but today is my 60th birthday. I have had so many changes over the last year and I have learned many things.

Image may contain: 2 peopleMy husband died November 20, 2016. He was only 68, but cancer doesn’t care how old you are or how much you are loved. Earlier this month, I almost had to put my dog down (he is almost 16) because he wasn’t eating and he was getting very weak. It turns out that he had a terrible infection in his mouth. He had dental surgery yesterday, 10 teeth removed and his teeth cleaned, and he is doing pretty good. Of course he now loves his Ceasar’s slices that he has been eating. I have a 5 bedroom home and half an acre of property that I am suddenly taking care of on my own and not doing too badly. I gained back all the weight I lost 4 years ago and am now having some minor health issues.

I did not write this post for your sympathy, but to share what I have learned over the past year.

Do not be afraid to ask family and friends for help when you need it. I wanted to be strong and do everything, but I can’t. My family and friends wanted me to ask for their help and they gave it willingly. they didn’t know what I needed until I finally asked.

Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting, table and indoor

Get out and enjoy life when you can, dinner or coffee with a friend are so invigorating. 

Having a social life is so important. Talking and laughing with them gives my spirit such a life. Everyone needs the power of laughter.

Prayer is a powerful thing. Image result for praying hands I meet once a week with some ladies from my church for dinner and a devotional, and this has helped me deal with my grief so much. I did not go to any bereavement meetings, but this group of ladies was my support group. They knew my husband, but not well. They hugged me physically and emotionally and have come to mean so much to me. Praying with them has given me strength.

Pets are a God send. Cuddling my dog at night has helped so much. I was devastated when I though I was going to have to put my dog to sleep, especially in November. He knows when I am sad and need his closeness. Sitting on my lap watching the Toronto Maple Leafs play hockey just like when Ray was here gives me comfort. I don’t know if I will get another dog when he is gone, but having him has made a big difference over the last year.

We are capable of so much more than we ever imagined. I was worried about whether I would be able to take care of the house. I love living here, it has so many memories and I am not ready to move on. I had to make decisions about what I could and could not do, but I did it. I hired some people to do things (paint, open and close the pool) and chose not to do some (no garden this year, but I will have one next summer) but I surprised myself at what I could do, I have been able to take care of the yard and house (although not to the same level as Ray did) and I even learned how to use some of his tools.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, plant, flower, closeup and outdoorSpend time with your family! I never thought my daughter and I would be able to spend a lot of time together, let alone 2 weeks on vacation, but we did and had a great time. We are closer now than ever! I love spending time with my children and grandchildren and cherish the time we spend together.

Overall, it has been a year of firsts for me and I know there will be more. I can do it with the help of my family, friends, neighbours, church family and God’s presence in my life. I have found comforts such as reading more, watching Hallmark movies on television and enjoying theater performances. We can do so much more than we ever thought we could and this year I proved it.