I have been humbled in ways I never knew was possible.  When life took a turn for the worse nearly 11 months ago, I was not sure how possibly this could happen to Jen. Her gentle soul, her love for everyone was reason enough to not have to face the cancer that could end her life.

Why? I asked myself that many of times. I would be lying if I said I don’t still ask myself why. But some days, I see the why. God has brought Jen and myself down a path in which we would grow in so many ways.

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To begin with, we have learned how one can be so completely generous without needing a thank you. A wonderful, unselfish 24 year old man gave Jen the gift of life. He didn’t do it for praise. He didn’t do it for money. He gave his bone marrow to give someone a chance at life and never asked for anything in return. Although I have written a thank you to him, and I hope he has received it, he has not made any contact back. I don’t know if he wishes to stay anonymous, however tomorrow will be six months since Jen has received his marrow and was given the chance to heal and live.

*Public Service announcement – You too can give someone the gift of life by getting on the registry to become a bone marrow donor. Visit www.bethematch.org to find out more.*

I also have learned how much there is to be thankful for in life. We are so blessed by so much and often we can’t see it as we are too distracted by those things we choose to complain about. On Saturday, I photographed my first wedding of the season. It was very hot for September. I sweated through my clothes and I was completely soaked only a couple hours into the day. In the past, this would be cause for me to complain. But instead, I knew I was blessed as I was able to work, make some money, and spend the day without fear of leaving Jen at home. I heard many complain about the heat. I heard many complain about many things. And I so wish, they could find a way to see the blessings without ever having to go through what we have in the last eleven months.

I also am learning to not let others define me. Popularity and my name has never been spoke in the same sentence. And there are days, especially when attempting to run my own business, popularity was important to me. To have someone choose me, as a friend or as a photographer, meant I was accepted. And when I wasn’t chose as those, I felt rejected. Often, when harsh word or actions came my direction, I would allow that to define me. And although it is difficult some days, I am learning to tell myself that God and God alone can judge me.

There had been times over the last several months, even while I watched my dear daughter fight cancer,  we had been judged.  And as much I wish I could  have protected Jen from these comments and actions, I am so blessed these moments occurred. Through it, I have had to find how to rebuild myself up, build Jen up, and not allow those things determine who we are or how we feel about ourselves.

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The doctors had told us to expect to see some of Jen’s strength to return at the six month mark. And that has been the case. In the last couple weeks, Jen has been able to attend two Cleveland Indians baseball games, gone to a flea market, and has painted my coffee table and a portrait of her cat Kodak. Her infectious smile has returned and her love for life has been restored. And although the battle continues, and lasting side effects still have to be addressed, to see the part of Jen that has been missing for so long, is like winning the lottery.  I am walking on sunshine!

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