Life Blows Us to The Windy City

This week Shannon and I join my family and head to Chicago for my brother’s wedding. This special day has been in the works since 2019 and it is really exciting that we will finally be able to celebrate.

Outside Grant & Kelly’s Apartment September 2017

Our family’s original travel plans were made in the fall of 2019 while Danny and I awaited little Miss Shannon’s early spring arrival. We love Chicago, have always loved our time with Kelly and Grant, and were in love with the idea of having our little lady experience both! I have extended family up there… Danny has baseball trivia to impart from there… and there truly is nothing better than Chicago in early summer. It would be the best first trip with our family of 3!

Grant’s girlfriend and Danny … starting a long week with the Heppes… November 2017

We spent a ton of time planning and then another huge chunk of time telling ourselves that even though Danny had an unexpected health bump, it would work out. And then I will never forget on a lunch break talking to my brother January 2020, with my little girl tumbling inside, as we both agreed no problem being flexible and like this was totally one of those things that just happens … while I was grateful it was a phone call and the tears that stung my eyes wondering if I would also be planning a funeral this year weren’t visible by Grant.

Thanksgiving – Grant & I Prefer the legs November 2016

Then COVID and everything changed.

Cindy’s Rooftop Chicago September 2018

Now two years later life looks about as different than I would have ever expected. My heartache from fear, rejection, grief and adjustment are all of a different kind. Motherhood has changed everything in ways I never imagined and this little peanut has blossomed to my sidekick with a personality I could not adore more. It is so strange to be heading to an event that has sort of tracked through the waves of change with me.

Shannon, Baby Madden and I fly to Chicago June 2022

The truth is that I have a lot of pain and sadness. There is an incredible hole in my world… in this trip… and to experience firsts with Shannon. But also, I have started to heal and been able to even see progress in establishing roots in this new life. In fact this trip comes the same week as an incredible job change and huge career moment… the start of summer… all things I would want to experience with my husband. But a combination of his choices and currently a hosptial stay- it won’t be that way.

Riverwalk Chicago September 2018

In this reality though, two incredible truths arise:

First if I have pain for what is missing, it ultimately means I know my love is true and is unconditional. This has been a season for worse, and I still miss who I know he could be and who we hoped to become. That sort of love is real and I am grateful to have had it… and to still have it. I said “I do” and I meant it and that is something that brings comfort. An odd blessing I am incredibly grateful for!

Downtown Chicago September 2018

Second: it is true the heart of a mother can carry both grief and joy. In fact it is more likely it will carry both and to know that God has entrusted me with the role of wife and mother is all I have wanted, so if he also sees me worthy of the honor to carry grief and joy that comes with it… well than we both know I am living my vocation. A blessing for this life and the next.

Shannon and I during Fall Picnic October 2020

As we prepare for this week, I am openly acknowledging that it will carry immense grief and huge joy. It doesn’t mean I am doing anything wrong or my life went down the wrong path. It just means I am a wife and mother. And saying these truths outloud means I can still live life, have this experience and make beautiful forever memories with my extended family, in honor of my brother, and right alongside the little life God has given me to steward. There is no need to dwell, hold back, or let grief take center stage… that is for another time… this is for joy. And in the moments that I wish for Danny ( to be there, to make a different choice, to stop missing out in BBC life with us) it is a chance to be grateful for the love I do have and the reminder to leave him in God’s hands, the best I can truly offer.

What I try to live by: surrendering to Him January 2022

Chicago…. Here we come!

Leaving for Chicago Wedding June 2022

Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!

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