When Melina passed away the hardest thing to hear was “Michelle you’re never gonna be the same.” I have a hard time with that. And I struggle with the thought of never being the same. I know in my heart I change every day and I know we’re constantly growing. I knew this life lesson long before Melina. Life always changes. I think what really shakes me with never being the same is the fact that losing Melina was a change I never dreamed of, and one I don’t want to make. Changing after the loss of a child just feels bad. It feels almost like a threat “you will NEVER be the same”. I considered myself a happy person. And I feel like the change that is referenced is that you will never be happy again. As we are nine months without our Melina my heart hurts worse than it did nine months ago. It is absolutely still broken and on some days I think it will always remain that way. I lost one of my most precious gifts. When I look at how I’ve changed in the last nine months, I ask myself am I as happy as I once was? And the answer, obviously, is no I’m not. However that doesn’t mean that I’m not happy, or that we are never happy? It means I am hurting down to my very being but at times happiness breaks through the hurt. Do I think that will keep getting better? Yes I do. I’m also learning that this will take more time than I ever dreamed of, and I won’t be the same. However there is a part of me I never want to be the same again. My whole life I was a worrier. I always sweated the small stuff. Worry is pretty low on the list these days. Actually there are days I wonder what could rock my world other than anything with my family. I have learned what truly matters. I have learned who my circle is, and I will hold on so tight to it. I have learned to celebrate big! We celebrate everything! We look for reasons to find Joy and when we find it we find it BIG. There are lots of ice cream and sprinkles celebrations and there is a lot of laughter. We find Joy in the simplest successes and we find Joy in the big moments. Melinas death will forever change my girls, but she makes them better. She teaches them Joy. She teaches them not to sweat the small stuff. She has taught them to find their strength. Melina has changed all of us. I don’t know what our future will look like. I don’t think that far ahead anymore. I used to. I literally go one day at a time. When we get through today I realize tomorrow is a blessing. We will celebrate every success we have today and we will move past every failure. It will all change tomorrow and it will all be different. So no I will never be the same, and maybe there’s just a little bit of Joy in that. Choose Joy!