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Christmas Surprise 2013

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Published on Dec 25, 2013

Six weeks after my wife, Anna, passed away I surprised my family on Christmas day. Enjoy!

I'm overwhelmed by the response to this video. Sometimes the internet community can be harsh. I thought it may be best to put this into perspective with our story, hopefully to further encourage others in their journey.

My wife and I were married nine years, no children - that's a different story. She was diagnosed with breast cancer just after Christmas in 2008. In fact, it was the last time we had gathered with my side of the family for Christmas in Minnesota. We were able to have a great time without thinking about the biopsy results waiting for us back home.

The first round of surgery, chemo, and radiation was about beating it and getting back to our lives. Unfortunately the monster returned months after the all clear. We spent the next four years on a roller coaster. Treatments would work, then fail. We moved into clinical trials and it felt like we were jumping from one lily pad to the next. But it was the emotional and spiritual journey that was most poignant. To summarize hardly does this justice. My wife was a voracious writer, strong in faith, and not one to let her ills be an excuse. She volunteered and mentored at church, she enrolled in an MFA program and was taking classes up until her final days, she taught others English and music, and she exhibited grace in every way. The biggest breakthrough in our journey was when she recognized the healing she prayed and hoped for was not of her body, but that of acceptance.

Reflecting on the last five years, our photo album is full of joy. We shared our journey with our wide network of family, friends, and church community. And we learned a lot along the way. When I stopped trying to fix her, I learned how to be a real caregiver. We always tried to do the harder thing for each other. Which simply meant we made every effort for each other. We were grateful for every day. And we lived so much of our lives in the moment. The value of our relationships with others was/is immeasurable. All of this and more came into such clear focus.

When we started hospice and discussed her funeral, she was quick to correct me and call it a celebration. She was all of this and so much more. And she was loved by so many, the greatest honor of which was mine.

I miss her terribly, and I'll do most anything to keep from being alone. I've laughed and cried, and sometimes at the same time. However, of the many blessings in my life is a boisterous family that will never forget the Christmas of 2013.

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