It's a Wonderful Life...
It was a year of loss.
we lost my dad, my tongue, my larynx,
the girls lost some of their youth, my mom lost more of herself (alzheimers).
While i have always been a glass half empty kind of gal...the intensity of loss this year has deepened my appreciation for my life and the people in my life. facing mortality close up has turned me into a bit of a Pollyanna (don't worry, i still can drop the F bomb with the best of 'em though!), so forgive the effusive positivity!
I could not be prouder and more grateful for our daughters. Siena (22) and Ela (20) both sacrificed themselves by giving up a semester of college to be by my side as full-time caregivers in San Francisco as i went through some dark days of surgery recovery and radiation. Ela showed maturity in taking over our family finances while Siena took point on my medical. They worked together - taking one hour shifts to check on me, cooking, cleaning, ordering supplies, navigating the insurance system, navigating the medical system, coordinating my mom's ongoing care, and on and on. My greatest achievement and joy in life is most definitely bringing two genuinely good humans into this world.
Miguel has been my partner and best friend for almost 33 years now. While the girls and I were in SF, he had to step into all my roles at our office. He worked tirelessly to care for our family from afar. He has given me unconditional love and support, allowing me to step away from stress to focus on rebuilding myself physically and mentally. I give him a hard time, but he is the love of my life.
I take joy every day in seeing Siena and Ela moving forward in their own lives. They have shown such perseverance. Siena graduated (while in SF!), applied to PA school, was accepted to multiple programs, is deciding where she will study next, and is working as a MA at a women's health practice. Ela re-immersed herself in college life, continued her volunteering at Handi-Dogs, is in her second year as an officer for Pre-Vet club, and joined a research project working with animals at her college.
Miguel's joy this year came from the three of us moving back from SF, holidays with family, having Siena and Ela in Tucson this semester, his Mom doing well, waking up every day to his beautiful wife (his words not mine!), the love and support of the Fuentevilla family, Colby's health, Linda's health, and the love we all share for each other.
Siena found joy spending a lot of time with Ela, Mom and Dad, PA school acceptances, mom's recovery, moving back to Tucson, and with Austin!
Ela took joy in a semester off of school to spend time with Mom, Siena + Dad, securing her research position, time with her close friends and the San Diego road trip to a Noah Kahan concert!
Harlee was joyous spending day in and day out with Mom, Siena + Ela in SF...and the windy walks! Cooper loved spending evenings talking and snuggling with Dad, his special time with Tia Marta, Tio Chris and his BFF cousins Nibblet, Chubbs, Chewy, Tank + Sandy.
Our family. How on earth would we have made it through without our family and friends this year? There are so many things big and small that swelled our hearts. If i named each one of you and each act of kindness this letter would just never end! From keeping vigil in the hospital parking lot, sitting in and counseling on doctor appointment after doctor appointment, bringing meals, caring for Cooper, grocery shopping, simple supportive texts and cards meant so much more than you can imagine, sponsoring a tattoo (stay tuned!), visiting, sending kid pics!, driving us back from SF, and so much more. Support came from our closest relatives to our distant relatives, from our closest friends to acquaintances and childhood friends. The love i felt this year is bringing me to tears as i write this. I surely did nothing to deserve the love we received. It was a gift that i cannot every repay and cannot put words to.
So...I will simply say,
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!
Sonya, Miguel, Siena, Ela, Harlee+Cooper.