What can I say? I thought 2015 would start off in beast mode for me, maybe have one or even two new novels blazing the social media pages in mass marketing campaigns. But… well… seeing my mom lying in a hospital bed suffering through the last stages of her life killed the “beast.”
Last year was a series of highs and lows for my wife Stephanie and I. The first part of the year was particularly difficult as we lost my mom in March. She battled cancer for nearly thirteen years, and finally succumbed to her illness on March 5, 2015. In the weeks leading up to her passing, family gathered to say goodbye and support each other, including her three sons together in years (me and my two brothers, which is something that hadn’t happened since 2011), just a few days before she left us. A few weeks later, family came from far and near to celebrate her life, and though the circumstances were sad, it felt good to spend time with family that we don’t see nearly enough. We miss her so much, and are doing our best to live our lives in a way that would make her proud. She was particularly insistent that we “be loving toward each other,” so we focus a lot on that as well.
While we spent a good portion of 2015 grieving and tending to end-of-life matters, we did manage to have some fun. In August, Stephanie and I accompanied my brother-in-law Bill and his family to Costa Rica for an epic family vacation. Bill and his wife Jessica (with their three kids in tow) were returning to the site of their honeymoon to renew their vows on their 10-year wedding anniversary, and we felt so blessed to witness this special event. The trip was also perfectly timed, as by this point we really needed a vacation. We spent two weeks traversing the Costa Rican countryside, hiking to waterfalls in the rainforest, ziplining through trees, tubing down rivers, swimming in the ocean, eating, sleeping, resting, and enjoying stress-free moments, which had been in short supply over the past year.
On September 4th, my nephew Miguel and his wife Cassie welcomed their second daughter, Chanel, to the world. We were so excited to meet her, and travelled to Michigan to visit them in early November. My brother Kenny also made the trip from Germany to meet his new granddaughter. We had a nice few days of family bonding time, and even watched a Michigan football game from the sidelines! We know it made Mom so happy to see her boys making an effort to spend time together.
Finally, on December 3rd, I presented my Master’s project (a book I wrote entitled Exercises for Older Veterans with PTSD) to a panel of Kinesiology faculty at San Jose State University. I’d been working hard on the final project for several months, and this was the culmination of two years of work in the Master’s program in Exercise Physiology. I am now the proud recipient of a Masters of Arts in Exercise Physiology!
I think 2016 will start off on the right track, considering I’m almost done with my third novel. Look out for Tangled Web in the summer of 2016! Back on track, baby.