2014 was the beginning of the worst couple of years of my life. I thought I had experienced pain and sorrow, but nothing had prepared me for this. On the morning of March 22, I was awaken by a phone call from my mom at 8am and all she said was "Conrad is dead". It felt as though all the air was sucked from my body. Conrad was my sister's youngest child. He was only 11 months and a few days old. The happiest baby I have ever seen. There was no explanation as to what happened.
The next couple of weeks were a blur. I stayed at my sisters for two weeks straight. I couldn't bare to leave. Watching my oldest brother help lower his body into the ground really sticks in my mind. I will never forget the emptiness and helplessness I felt at that funeral.
I never once in my life saw my dad cry until Conrad's funeral. He had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease at age 65. After Conrad's death, he lost his fight and began falling fast. A year later, I laid with my dad in his bed in hospice while he slept. He had lost a significant amount of weight, didn't know who I was, and was unable to eat or drink. That night I slept with him in his hospital bed was the last night I would feel his heart beat. He passed away the next morning.
Needless to say, I was unable to grasp all that had happened in those two years. My friends saw me falling apart, but were unable to help or really understand what I was going through.
There was one friend that NEVER left my side through these two years. She gave me my Giving Key Strength necklace on my birthday in November of last year. She told me that she has never seen someone exhibit so much strength.
I cherish this necklace so much. It reminds me of what I have survived and that no matter what happens- you have to hold on. I still don't know if I was exhibiting strength or if it was just because I had no choice but to continue living. All I know is that I treasure every moment, every person, and every memory in my life.