"The biggest acts of kindness to mankind, come in the form of the smallest gestures."
As some of my followers know, my blogs, radio show and website have been quiet for most of the last year.
As some of you also might know it was due to my Daughter-in-law, Sarah, having been diagnosed with breast cancer.
I made the decision, the easiest I've ever made, and traveled to PA. to help out as best as I could with my two young grandsons.
My whole life as a state trooper, volunteer soldier and Tactical team member, my job was to go into a crisis situation and neutralize the treat, secure the hostages, rescue the lost or injured and basically kick ass, and get the bad guys. Done and done.
Cancer in this case had other ideas. No matter how much I tried, I could not destroy or get rid of the bad guys looming inside Sarah's body.
In the two years she lived with Cancer, and when I say lived, I mean lived; Sarah did more living, in between chemo, radiation, all the meds, ups and downs that came with it, than the average healthy mom, sister, wife, friend, daughter, in-law, or person will do in a lifetime.
Sarah never made it about her, she always strived to make sure everyone around her was taken care of and okay, even those that honestly did not deserve it.
She baked treats for friends' showers, parties and get togethers. She took her two baby boys to the park almost every day. She took the oldest to school every day and picked him up in the afternoon, then it was off to the zoo, museums, to the beach, and community events. She painted with them, made play-doh creations, baked, cooked, laughed, watched TV, ate ice cream, and at the end of the day, she bathe them, read them stories, sang to them and made sure that they were safely tucked in bed, always knowing without a doubt that they were loved unconditionally by their mommy.
Sarah made home cooked meals on the rare days that scores of friends did not send over food. Sarah was by far one of the best cooks I knew and she always said love was the special ingredient that added the something, something to her delicious meals!
She was attentive to my son, no matter how much he tried to get her to rest, even on days that she could barely lift herself out of bed.
Sarah was doing all of this while cancer was ravishing her body, but make no mistake, Sarah might have had cancer, but cancer sure as hell did not have her.
Cancer could slowly destroy her body, but it NEVER, ever, touched her spirit!
On Sarah's 32nd birthday in February, we gathered as family and friends to celebrate her day. Sarah had just gotten released from the hospital from yet another bout with pneumonia.
As weak as Sarah was she still flashed that million dollars smile, she hugged and rejoiced with her "family" as anyone that was blessed to have known her would instantly become.
Sarah was so happy holding her little nephew from MA., Alex Jr. and was content to cuddle with her dad on the couch.
Before I left for MA. after her birthday weekend, the last thing Sarah said to me was, "I miss you." I had been fighting a bad cold and did not want to get her sick which is why I was going home for a few days.
The few days turned into two weeks as an upper respiratory infection kept me away.
Deep in my heart I knew Sarah was reaching the end of her journey. She was tired and I felt she was only hanging on for the boys and my son.
But, honestly the stubborn side of me refused to accept that anything could derail Sarah, even cancer, once she made up her mind to overcome any obstacle.
I got the call from my son late in the evening that we needed to hurry back to PA. and I knew it was the end for our Beloved Sarah.
Within an hour we were on the road with our daughters on the longest drive of our lives. We arrived at her hospital bed as they were getting ready to remove the life support equipment she was adament she did not want keeping her alive for any prolonged period of time.
Sarah was heavily sedated when I said my good-byes, yet she struggled to respond to me. I had the peace of knowing that she knew I was there, we, were there and wanted her to know that it was okay for her to go.
The last act of love that Sarah performed on this earth was to kiss both her boys good-bye seconds before she passed away.
The next two weeks were a blur, with a wake and funeral mass in PA. followed by her cremation, then a celabratory mass service in MA., add to this a one year old and a three year wanting to know where "mommy" was.
I have to say going into the most dangerous situations as a cop, was a piece a cake, compared to the difficulty I experienced trying to correctly and lovingly explain her absence, and the concept of death to the boys, while not losing my composure at the same time.
Sarah always said to me that everything happened for a reason. She also said, that good things will always come from the worse situations.
I honestly struggled to see it in this situation, but slowly I saw a glimmer of what she meant.
Over the last months I have been floored at the kindness of strangers and love of friends.
I know that a lot of it was due to the sweet person that Sarah was and how loyal a friend, loving a family member, and loyal to a fault she was, but it went way beyond that!
When people from all walks of life came out of the woodwork to be there for my son and grandsons, as well as us, it just blew my mind.
We got visits from beloved "FaceBook" friends, notes of support from total strangers who were moved by her story in the paper, tons of food, meals, cards, flowers and emails of support.
Even people who Sarah and my son had know in childhood paid respects and wrote or called.
The most amazing thing to me was people who didn't write or call, because death is difficult for them, but still made sure that others knew of Sarah's passing or organized meals. Quietly, they were in the background, supportive and there for us.
The other most amazing aspect was the tons of total strangers offering prayers, kind words of support and sometimes just leaving sweet posts on our Facebook wall and other media outlets.
When I say the smallest gesture is the biggest at times, I speak from experience. I had an old Guard buddy stay up late on several occasions sending me funny cat videos, jokes and notes. While he said he couldn't do much, he didn't understand he did so much!
While they say time heals all wounds, and I know it does, the void left by Sarah, is irreplaceable.
The one thing that keeps me going every day, actually its four things: one is my son, two and three are my grandsons, and the last one is the promise to Sarah to always live life to the fullest.
While I know that Sarah did accomplish a lot in her short life, I also know that there were tons of things on her "to-do" list.
In honor of her spirit, her love and her zest for life, I am motivated to live for both of us!
I will take more photographs for her.
I will talk to strangers and make them my friends more often for her.
I will laugh at my mistakes and accidents more for her.
I will love more for her.
I will hug and kiss more for her.
I Will paint, create and grow more for her.
I will dream, hope and aspire more for her.
I will hope and be more positive for her.
I wil look for the good in everything and everyone for her.
I will cuddle with the boys and play more for her.
I will take more chances, try more new things for her.
I will admire the ocean, the sunrises and sunsets more for her.
I will hold more babies and send more cards for her.
I will bake more cookies and feed more people for her.
I will have more family gatherings and more friends over for her.
I will feel the fear and insecurities and do it anyway for her!
I will have faith enough to take the first step for her!
I will write more emails, send more letters and yes, even make more phone calls for her.
But mostly I will never take a moment, a person, a memory, a chance, a day for granted, or miss the opportunity to say I love you, for her!
So to all our family, friends, Media friends, soon to be friends and kind strangers thank you, because of you, we have seen a glimmer of the light at the end of this sad tunnel.
And while you are at it, going through your day to day details, can you too pay it forward, enjoy it more and take it more in, for Sarah?
But, mostly for you!
Don't miss a chance to live life to the fullest!
Love you my beautiful Sarah, and I know that this world is a lot better because you were here and Heaven has gotten a lot better because you are there!