Julie - Amherst, New York
Entered on June 18, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

“What do you want me to be when I grow up?” my eight year old son asked me one day. “happy” I replied. “ I mean, what do you want me to do for a job?” “ Whatever makes you happy”, Will” I said. A couple of days later my ten year old daughter said to me, “the two things I hate most about myself are my freckles and I’m short” “Ava, those are two things you can’t change about yourself. You shouldn’t hate things you can’t change.” I explained the only real choice you have in your life is happiness. You can’t change events, you can’t control other people, I know, I’ve tried! But you can control how you handle events and other people. In 2005 when our children were 3, 5, and 7 my husband, Danny and I were looking for a larger home. We told ourselves that we needed that fourth bedroom. The boys needed their own room. What we actually wanted a nicer home to show our success. To “keep up with the Joneses”, as the saying goes. In November of 2005 Danny was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. A glioblastoma, the most fatal of brain tumors. He lived for almost seventeen months after diagnosis with a relatively good quality of life. This was not only because of the phenomenal medical care he received, but also because of Danny’s outlook. He and I both realized that his chances to live a long life weren’t great, but he refused to let that ruin his happiness or mine. He continued to work full-time and even became a partner shortly before his death. After dinner on Easter Sunday of 2007, Danny died of a massive stroke related to his cancer. He died happy, after doing two of his favorite of his favorite things, spending time with loved ones and eating. Shortly after Danny’s diagnosis I remember praying to God to let him survive this because I couldn’t live without him. Danny’s strength and courage through his illness taught me that although I don’t want to live without him, I can live without him. Not only can I live without him, I can lead a happy life. I wish he were here to live it with me, but he’s not and I have no control over that or much else that happens in life. I do have control over how I handle situations and my own happiness. I will continue to teach my children that their happiness is their choice. It’s not a bigger house, a nicer car, or even a lot of money. People lead very happy lives with a lot less than I have. People lose their homes in disasters, their limbs in accidents, their children to illness and go on to lead happy lives. Although Danny’s not here physically to live my life with me, I feel his presence constantly. Through our three children and through the many happy memories we had together. I choose to be happy.