A bit about me...

I started writing when my therapist insisted I started journaling. In true toddler fashion, I fell to the floor, kicking and screaming because what could I possibly gain from writing about my feelings? (Okay, I did not physically do this, but my verbal protest was…comparable.)

Sure enough, though, in spite of my initial resistance, by writing my thoughts I started to find my way to my center, my authentic self, that mythical unicorn she had told me I needed to find.

Then, of course, I had the opportunity to write several victim statements where I spoke directly to the men involved in my late husband’s murder. While the thought of this may make you queasy, I found it extremely cathartic and empowering in taking my life back from the men who took my future.

The Tragedy

On March 2nd, 2018, my late husband was shot and killed in the line of duty while pursuing a suspect. He was pronounced brain dead and after 3 days in the ICU, he donated his organs. I became a widow at age 33.

During our marriage, Jake and I went through years of infertility, never able to have a child of our own. Eight months prior to his death, we began to foster two biological brothers with full intentions of adopting them. We were nearly through the process when Jake was killed.

Both of the boys have experienced trauma in their short lives through foster care and the loss of Jake. They both have developmental delays, speech and language delays, sensory processing difficulties, and ADHD.

The Rise

Two months after his death, I adopted the boys and the court allowed Jake to posthumously adopt them as well. Many of Jake’s coworkers and his Sheriff’s department attended the hearing to stand in for Jake. I was able to become a mama to two adventurous special needs boys, ages 3 and 5.

And finally, I have found love again with an amazing man. We take on life together. He has stepped into a role that is not for the faint of heart. And he gives his whole heart to me and my boys. He has a son that is 4 so our home is full of boys. We are learning as we go, and as we blend our family. We are taking on the challenges of a young relationship, parenting, grief, and basically everything else life throws at us.

The Hope

Tears of the Phoenix means something powerful to me. Phoenixes are mythical birds that are reborn after bursting into flames at the end of their life. These birds symbolize rebirth, hope, and a destiny of rising from the ashes. And it is believed their tears have healing powers.

Losing Jake devastated me and in a lot of ways I feel like many parts of me died with him that day. My journey has been about recreating myself. Rebuilding and rising, despite wanting to give up. Taking those steps forward if not for me, but for those 2 boys that became our own. My tears and emotions have been an integral part in my healing and growth as I discover my authentic self through therapy, fitness, meditation, and journaling.

“And when all that was left was ashes, she would again clothe herself in flame. Rising from the dust of her past to rekindle the spark of her future. She was a Phoenix, her own salvation; rebirthed, renewed, resurrected.”

— LaRhonda Toreson

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