good life – by andrea williams
Part of cultivating a good life is recognizing the power of gratitude.
It was May 22, 2008. My husband Travis was experiencing some facial numbness so he had an MRI. The scan revealed a brain stem tumor. Today was actually the four-year anniversary of our twin daughter, Ella’s, diagnosis with Leukemia. We had been through some very dark days in the past but felt incredibly blessed since her treatment was successful and she had made a full recovery. In fact, I often said how much I loved my charmed life. We were blessed. Now we were facing the worst news of our lives.
Over the next several months we faced brain surgery, rehabilitation, radiation. We experienced the best of people: doctors, friends, neighbors, church members, family. Everyone rallied and we were overwhelmed with gratitude for the outpouring of kindness, love, and support. Prayers, meals, babysitting, house/yard work, donations…..we truly witnessed miracles. The biggest miracle was a remission of the brain tumor.
Life returned to normal. Work, kids, everyday life. But Travis and I were changed. We didn’t take life for granted anymore. We played, we took vacations, we spent time with our four beautiful kids. Everything we said we would do “someday” we started doing NOW.
We had four years like that. Then, on a routine MRI appointment, we found out that the tumor came back. It would require more surgery. This time, his recovery was a little more difficult, but we made it work. He soldiered through chemotherapy while continuing to work full time. He was rear ended in a car accident and that complicated his recovery. But we continued to feel gratitude for the lives we were given and the blessing of each other.
Just eight months later, the tumor returned again, even while on chemotherapy. This wasn’t a good sign. His symptoms affected his ability to walk, eat, speak, drive. He never complained once. He was kind, patient, and loving with everyone. In January 2014 he had more brain surgery. This time we were not so lucky. It had progressed to an aggressive tumor and there was little the skilled doctors could do. Travis was hospitalized for 11 weeks while enduring countless treatments and surgeries. He could no longer swallow, eat, walk, sit up, talk. But he always had a smile, thumbs up, a thank you for the doctors, nurses and therapists. Travis wanted to get home so badly, so we made it happen. We brought him home on a Monday and he passed away five days later.
I am 41 years old and a widow with four young children. But I wouldn’t trade places with anyone. I was blessed with 19 years of marriage to my best friend and together we built a life and family together that have been my greatest joy. Travis will live on in my children and the legacy he created. We will tell stories, share experiences, watch videos, and look at precious pictures to keep him close in our hearts. I remind my kids how blessed they are to have Travis as their dad….even though they didn’t get him as long as they hoped. I remind myself daily that I, too, am blessed to have had Travis as my husband, partner, and best friend for so many years.
There is great power in finding gratitude in any circumstance. It is a choice that I make daily. It helps me feel more joy and contentment in my life and gives me hope for a happy future. I can still honestly say that I have a blessed and charmed life filled with loving family and friends who enrich my life.
Note from Becky
Travis and Andrea Williams have been some of our very dearest friends since we met them in 1995. We were all newlyweds, living just south of the university campus, figuring out married life, sharing our struggles of the work / school balance, and having a blast together when we just needed a break from the daily grind. We have never stopped supporting each other through thick and thin, and we always pick right back up where we left off the last time we hung out together.
When Travis’ earthly journey came to an end, we saw a new strength in Andrea. I know she has her moments. Everyone does. And everyone who understands loss and grief, knows how important it is to truly grieve. But through it all she has become even stronger, more faithful, and more full of gratitude. This all radiates from her. Anyone who knows Andrea can tell you that – and it is truly my honor to have such a dear friend and stellar example in my life.
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