Living Happily Ever After


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Written In Pencil

“Friends will write me letters. They run out of room on the front of the letter. They write ‘over’ on the bottom of the letter–like I’m that much of a moron; like I need that there. Because if it wasn’t there, I’d get to the bottom of the page: ‘And so Kathy and I went shopping and we–’ That’s the craziest thing! I don’t know why she would just end it that way.” (Ellen Degeneres)

I asked my former husband for THE letter.

He asked me why I wanted it. I told him the truth: I wanted the peace of mind it would give me. Since neither of us knew what the future held, or where he was going, I told him I didn’t want to someday need it and not be able to find him or reach him.

He said, “Tell me, would you use that letter today if you could?”

“Yes,” I replied. “Absolutely.”

In reality, though, I couldn’t. You can’t apply for a cancellation until you have the opportunity to marry someone else. But I needed him to know I felt there was no chance for reconciliation.

So he wrote one.

It was in pencil (prison inmates aren’t allowed to have pens). Written in October 2009. Mailed from a Colorado jail.

When it arrived, I opened it, read it and put it away never thinking I’d need it. It was a very nice letter, though, and I appreciated his willingness to write it. Later, he called me, collect, to discuss it.

I saw how hard it must have been for him to write that letter because he told me some untrue ramifications of me using that letter. I knew they were the last efforts of a sinking ship to attempt to rescue itself, I guess, but I had had it. I had been lied to for too long by the man, too many times; we were divorced; he wasn’t my husband; I didn’t feel an obligation to “obey” him any longer and I wasn’t going to stand for one single additional lie. So I called him on it:”That’s not true, ” I said. “That is a lie. You’ve lied to me for the LAST time!”

He said, “You’re right. I’m sorry.”

And that was that.

I kept the letter in a drawer for the next 6 months. And then one day, unexpectedly, I needed it. I sat in my pastor’s office, handed the letter to him, and he told me he’d have to check to see if it could be used in conjunction with my application because it hadn’t been requested via certified mail, it had been sent directly to me and it had been written a few months earlier.

“I get mail; therefore I am.” (Scott Adams) 



“There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters… I could be their leader.” (Charlie Brown)

Going from happily married for 20 years to what I discovered was traumatic. The idea of divorce, alone, was very traumatic to me, not to mention everything else. So to ease things for both of us in that moment on that day when everything was so shocking, new and unexpected (remember, my marriage never disintegrated over time, my reality simply shattered in a moment; I had yet to “fall out of love” with my husband) I said, “I see no other consequence to what you have done than divorce. The consequence of your choices IS divorce. It’s not something I’ve come to decide lightly. But that doesn’t mean when you get out of prison and I’m single that we couldn’t try to rebuild something–IF we decided we could love or trust each other again. But who knows? You may not even be interested in me at that point.”

I was married to a stranger who terrified me in the way finding out someone you have trusted and loved for two decades has been living not just a secret/double life, but a criminal life, and you NEVER HAD A CLUE. And when he didn’t think divorce was necessary…sometimes it just didn’t seem to me that he understood what he had done was as terrible and reprehensible as it was.

We divorced.

I moved to Utah.

He was taken into custody.

And our relationship transitioned from husband and wife, companionship, friendship and everything else we’d had to friendly former family members with the occasional strained relationship of what I assume is typical of divorced couples.

He wrote letters from jail. His letters expressed his sorrow for what he had done (that was appreciated) but they also contained expressions of love. To me.

I think he did that because he felt that way toward me, but also probably to build me up and to help me at such a hard time and when I was so shattered, so humiliated, felt so worthless and thought everyone could tell just by looking at me what a loser I was. But after our divorce, my move to Utah and my progression through the process of grieving and healing those expressions of love became a problem for me.

With each passing day and with each new realization I came to as I worked through the mess he had created and left for me, I felt increasingly uncomfortable with his expressions of love.

Some days they bothered me, as in irritated me.

Some days they hurt me, as in made me cry.

Some days I just didn’t want to hear them.

Some days they made me mad.

And around that same time, the fall of 2009, I realized I would never remarry him.

I’ve said it before: I believe in repentance and forgiveness. I just didn’t think I would ever be able to trust him completely, 100%, again–regardless of the changes he had made. And trust, to me, is a huge part of marriage. I didn’t want to wonder at any future date if my husband was telling me the truth; to wonder when he headed out the door to go to work, if that is really what he was doing and where he was going; or to live in fear of, heaven forbid, another Ponzi scheme or other such crime.

I was also afraid that regardless of the changes he made and the man he became, a part of me (if I stayed with him) would never quite feel he deserved me. And that isn’t right. If he changes and somehow through all he is enduring as a result of his choices finally becomes the man I always thought he was and that he always represented himself to be, he deserves to have a wife who completely loves, trusts, and feels he deserves her.

That will never be me. (I’m not a big enough person, I guess.) One day, while talking to a Colorado friend, I realized I would rather be alone the rest of my life than remarry Shawn Merriman. As soon as that came out of my mouth she stopped me and said, “Do you realize what you just said? That says a lot to me about how you feel to know that you would rather be alone the rest of your life than remarry Shawn.”

I guess it did.

It was an epiphany. I realized, truly, how I felt and what the future held for me: nothing.

I was going to be alone the rest of my life. Because I preferred that option to remarrying, someday, the man I had loved for 20 years. (Amazing what a Ponzi scheme, betrayals, and decades of lies can do, huh?)

I realized then and there that I had to put a stop to his confessions of love. I didn’t want to hear them. I didn’t want him to have any false hope, I felt that would be dishonest of me. So I told him how I felt, but he didn’t stop telling me what a wonderful wife I had always been, that he still loved me and always would, and that someday he was going to win me back.

I felt I had to put a stop to that, too. It made me feel uncomfortable. And I couldn’t let him believe one thing when I felt another. So to show him how completely serious I was, and how real my feelings were, I asked him to write a letter authorizing me to apply for a cancellation of our marriage/sealing that would allow me to remarry and be sealed to someone else in a L.D.S. temple.

I don’t think he expected that.

“Yours Mine And Ours”

“I don’t answer the phone.  I get the feeling whenever I do that there will be someone on the other end.” (Fred Couples)

The phone call came at the end of the work day Monday afternoon. It was from the ice arena. Our sons, the boys we’d disagreed about and had broken our engagement off over just the night before, had gotten into a public brawl on the ice. Supposedly, his son bumped my son while they were skating and hitting pucks (that’s hockey.) But my son didn’t like that and hit his son. His son hit mine back for hitting him. And then my son took his hockey stick to his son, swung it like a baseball bat and hit his son across the back!

My oldest son witnessed it, ejected my middle son from the ice, and the offender was MAD. He called me, wanted me to pick him up from the ice rink so he wouldn’t have to wait there and watch the other boys having fun. Unfortunately, I work in another city so that wasn’t possible. (I also thought it wouldn’t hurt him to cool off, to sit and watch the other boys having fun on the ice, so I told him we’d talk about it when we got home.)

I hung up the phone and shook my head. WhoEVER would have thought I’d be the mother of a son who got in a brawl, in public? Certainly not me! (Yet here I am, delighting in all kinds of unexpected experiences I’m continually blessed with.)

Then I called #5 and left him a message. ”I don’t know if you’ve heard yet, but there was a physical altercation on the ice today. I’m calm, I’m not upset; I hope you are too. While I don’t know if you have other plans for this evening, I don’t think we can let this go any longer. We need to sit down and talk to the boys, together, tonight.”

It’s funny how life prepares you for…life. How certain things (people, places, events, experiences) can prepare you for other things–even when you don’t realize you’re going to need them. Like how we’d had our disagreement about our boys just the night before. At the time, I’d thought it was a terrible thing–to fight and then break up–yet in reality, it allowed us to work through our issue, separate the issue from us, get it together and present a united front to our children.

When #5 walked into my home that night, he looked at me with a smile and joked, “What would Mike and Carol Brady do?”

There was only one answer to that. I’d learned it from my wise Colorado friend when I mistakenly expected to make my remarriage/blended family situation like The Brady Bunch and it wasn’t working, and I’d thought I was disappointed–until she straightened me out. I shared it with #5.  I said, “PLEASE! It doesn’t matter what Mike and Carol would do. We aren’t the Brady Bunch, never will be, and I’m ok with that.” I added, “Mike was gay; Carol was depressed; Greg kissed his step-sister Marcia; Alice couldn’t get her love, Sam-the-meat-man to commit…I don’t want or need to be The Brady Bunch!”

And in that moment I realized, again, I really feel that way. What #5 and I have, with our children, is right for us. It’s actually very, very good. We need to help a couple of our children learn to appreciate each other a little more–however biological siblings sometimes need to work on that, too.

But it was a good opportunity to tell #5 what I DID want: ”If we’re going to be like anyone, I want to be ‘Yours Mine & Ours!’” I exclaimed.

He looked at me strangely, couldn’t figure that one out, I guess, because he asked, “‘Yours Mine & Ours?’ Why that? They had way more kids than we do and besides, I’m not in the armed forces.”

“Yes, I know!” I explained. “But Rene Russo is WAY hotter. If I’m going to be like anyone, let alone any stepmother, let it be her!”

We laughed, went in together and had a great talk with our sons. I have to say, I think that challenge made us better; stronger than ever. The challenges of life, the unexpected life itself, have a way of doing that, you know.

“Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.” (Henry Ward Beecher)

The Bright Side of My Divorce

“Always look on the bright side of life.” (Monty Python)

When I divorced, initially, I thought my situation was more difficult than a “typical” divorce because my former spouse is in prison. His incarcerated status left me completely alone to raise and support our children. There is no child support; no parenting time with the other parent; and while I wouldn’t wish the prison experience on anyone (although the choices my former spouse made certainly warrant prison time) as time has gone on, I’ve been able to look on the bright side. 

“The habit of looking on the bright side of every event is worth more than a thousand pounds a year.” (Samuel Johnson)

The bright side? Of being left alone, the sole source of support for four children, while the former spouse serves over 12 years in prison? Some might wonder, “What bright side?”

Here it is: I am completely alone to raise and support our children. There is no child support.

I have sole custody–medical custody, educational custody, social custody, religious custody, every type of custody I could think of when I wrote my divorce. And after observing many divorced couples have to co-parent their children, I’ve realized being left completely alone is much simpler and easier (in some ways, for me) than what some divorced couples experience.

I get to do what I feel is best for my children. I don’t have to get permission, approval or really even report to another parent. I don’t have to compromise. I don’t make plans and have them changed by the other parent. There is no other parent to get frustrated or mad at me. While some former spouses have to endure spending time with one another for the sake of their children, I don’t have to do that either. And now that we’re used to seeing “Unsensored Inmate Mail” stamped on the outside of envelopes that arrive occasionally in our mailbox, basically, I’m drama-free!

Yes, there is always a bright side–if you choose to find it.

The whole prison thing also meant #5 didn’t have to meet a former spouse face-to-face. Instead, he received a letter from Shawn Merriman, mailed from a Colorado jail, early in our engagement.

I don’t remember much of the letter other than that my former spouse tried to be kind and supportive in what he wrote–although how his attempts to do that came across in writing I still wonder about. It seemed a little “lecturing” to me as it told #5 he would be the one to do such-and-such with the Merriman children and it listed lots of things #5 would be doing with them. (It sort of read like Shawn Merriman was telling #5 all that he expected him to do as a step-parent.)

But #5 is not only a very nonjudgemental person and accepting of everyone, he is a good sport. He accepted the letter graciously…and we never really discussed it again. I don’t know what, if anything, he did with it. He just does his thing, in his own way, and my children are the better because of it. I credit the healing of my children to a great big miracle, to the passage of time and in large part, to #5.

“But when we have families, when we have children, this gives us a purpose for being, to protect our children, to avoid going to jail because if I’m in jail, who looks after my children, who’s there for my wife?” (Ernie Hudson)


Letting Go

“Time heals what reason cannot.” (Seneca)

Tonight I had the opportunity to chat with a Colorado friend on the phone. We’ve emailed occasionally, back and forth, since I moved to Utah but I can’t remember the last time we talked. She told me I sounded like my old self and asked, “Tell me, are you really as good as you sound?”

I assured her I was.

She then said, “O.k., then tell me how you’ve done it.”

I’m not sure I had an answer for that.  How do you heal from the wounds and trauma of a very unexpected life?

In the beginning, I was overwhelmed with trying to make sense of anything and to reason through it all. Everything was of such a magnitude, and so shocking, reason alone didn’t heal me. There’s no way it could. So I have to credit my healing to time–it has been 23 months since I was thrust into a life I didn’t plan for or expect, but I’ve seen for myself that there really is something to the old adage that “time heals all wounds.”

I’ve done it through reason, time…and due to a great big miracle. It’s a miracle to me that I have healed. I remember wondering if it was possible to recover from losses like mine. I remember doubting I’d ever heal or feel whole again in my life, but I honestly do.

I think the key to recovery is this:  what reason doesn’t take care of, what time cannot heal, and if there’s anything not covered by your miracle…the rest you simply have to let go.

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” (Author Unknown)

I recommend this course of action to everyone. Moving forward is a whole new adventure in itself. At least, it was for me. It even led to falling in love, getting engaged…

O.k., so that is really all it has led to because I haven’t moved forward beyond being engaged–yet. The love update, for anyone who has been with me for awhile and to any newcomer, is that I’ve been engaged for over 9 months now! I NEVER expected that. But just in case that should change any time in the near future, I think it’s time to share some highlights of the past 9 months.

“I recorded my hair this morning, tonight I’m watching the highlights.” (Jay London)

Here we go…

Hatch…Or Go Bad

“I don’t, for the record, have a Tweety Bird fetish.” (Brian Lamb)

But I have enjoyed some special birds.

Once, when I lived in my Colorado neighborhood, an owl took up residence on our front porch. He stayed with us for about 3 weeks and kept a close eye on us–rotating his head all the way around to look at a us, never missing a thing! It was very unexpected. And very typical of life–unexpected.

But the creatures I had the most dealings with for the 16 years I lived in my home were two particular birds: a sparrow and a robin.

The sparrow took up residence every year in the wreath that hung on my front door. Kind homeowner that I was, every fall when she flew away for the winter, I removed the nest and cleaned the bird mess off my front door and secretly hoped she wouldn’t return. But every year she did. When she arrived, she immediately set to work laboring long and hard to build a little nest in the wreath. Then she’d lay her little eggs there. And then she had to endure trying to protect her eggs as our front door opened and closed, and people came and went, throughout the day every day. I’m sure she never expected to live amid such turmoil!

But I have to give her credit for not only enduring her circumstances, but for never giving up; for returning each year, year after year, to do the same thing. It inspired me that she always made it–she built her nest, raised her babies, and survived the winter season to return and do it again.

The unexpected life requires emulation of the sparrow. You don’t expect what you’re handed, you never plan to live amid turmoil, you can’t control much of what you experience, but you can endure. That’s what the sparrow did. And she taught me you can do it year after year, for however long it takes, until you triumph over your challenges.

The robin took up her real estate in the pear tree outside my dining room window. I could stand in my dining room and look out the window and down into her nest. I got to enjoy a bird’s eye view without ever disturbing my bird-friend! She slaved to build her nest; she laid her eggs in it–beautiful, tiny blue eggs; and then she sat on them through rain and shine, sleet and heat and snow. Many times, I watched her huddled in her nest, her wings wrapped around her for protection against the heavy, wet, thick, Colorado spring snow that pounded her little nest relentlessly. But she, too, never gave up despite the heavy burdens that landed on her. And she still managed to not only hatch her eggs and raise her baby birds, but she sang while she did it. Year after year.

When my unexpected life began, I remember feeling a lot like that robin: burdened, huddled, trying to survive the temporary misery amid heavy snow.

The unexpected life requires emulation of the robin, too. Endure, and by virtue of never giving up, eventually conquer the things that are heaped upon you. Hang in there, eventually spring will come. Your burdens will lift (or you’ll have become strengthened and able to bear them) if you don’t give up. And for goodness sake, sing while you do it! There’s a reason Snow White whistled while she worked!

It has been two years since my last interactions with the robin and the sparrow. And now I realize something else, probably the most important thing of all. Thank goodness for the unexpected life, despite its turmoil, trauma, challenges and burdens. Because it forces us out of our shells and out of our nest, we have to fly or fail; hatch or go bad.

Growth is always a choice. In most cases, so is triumph. I love those little birds and their eggs that reminded me of that.

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are all like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” (C.S. Lewis)

Thank goodness for the unexpected life that keeps things fresh, and that helps us hatch and grow beyond being just ordinary, decent eggs.

A Table, A Chair, A Bowl of Fruit and a Violin

“The woman gets the ring–unless it’s an heirloom.” (Vanessa Lloyd Platt)

Or in my case, in the aftermath of a Ponzi scheme. You don’t get to keep your wedding ring if it’s an upgrade–and paid for with tainted (ie. stolen) money. Oh well. I only wished I could have had it to sell for cash to provide for my children anyway. But like I said, I did get to keep my violin.

Paid for in 1982 by Dr. Andrew H. and Sandra Christensen, a Colorado orthodontist and his wife, my parents, with money legally acquired straightening crooked teeth and turning them into beautiful smiles. They purchased my violin from a very well-known master violin maker named Peter Paul Prier, originally from Germany but living and operating a store and violin making school in Utah.

I had begun taking piano lessons when I was 7 years old and in 6th grade, at 11 years old, I began playing the violin. I tried it because all of the neighbor girls older than me were in orchestra and it seemed to be the thing to do, at a certain age, in Grand Jct., CO. Plus, it didn’t look that hard. I took to the violin pretty well. In my last year of junior high, I was asked to walk to the high school from my school and participate in their orchestra class and play with them. By high school, when every serious violinist seemed to be upgrading their violin for a better one, that seemed like the thing for me to do too. I mentioned it to my parents. And true to form, just like everything else in my life, they came through for me.

They checked around, learned Peter Paul Prier was THE place to get the best violins, and without telling me flew to Utah, made a purchase, returned home one evening and surprised me with my new violin! They told me it was a very good violin, that I needed to take care of it–and that if for some reason I ever needed to sell it someday I should return to Peter Paul Prier and sell it back to him. That’s what Mr. Prier had told them.

What my parents didn’t tell me, was that they’d paid $2000 for my violin.

I enjoyed playing my new violin. Things went without a hitch until the weekend the band room at my high school caught fire or was robbed (I can’t remember which) and I happened to admit, “Oh no! My violin was in there!” My parents almost had a heart attack. I got a lecture about taking care of valuable things, which I completely deserved, and I was on pins and needles all weekend and into Monday morning until I could get in to the school and discover that my violin was ok.

I grew up, went to college, got married, had children and eventually played my violin only on very rare occasions. But I held onto it for sentimental reasons and in case any of my children chose to develop that talent. And when my former husband’s Ponzi scheme was revealed, my violin was one of a few “valuable” items I was allowed to walk away with–thanks to my generous parents and their support of the development of my talents.

“A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?” (Albert Einstein)

After entering my unexpected life, my mom’s words from 1982 haunted me: “Mr. Prier told me to tell you that someday, if you ever need to sell your violin, take it back to him and he’ll buy it from you. It’s a good violin.”

I just NEVER imagined a day like that would come.

Everything Else is Just Figure Skating

“High sticking, tripping, slashing, spearing, charging, hooking, fighting, unsportsmanlike conduct, interference, roughing… everything else is just figure skating.” (Unknown)

My first (and last) attempt at figure skating took place in Sun Valley, Idaho, when I was approximately 8 years old. Unfortunately, I didn’t progress beyond gripping the wall’s railing to stay upright, and even then it was a challenge to stay on my feet. It didn’t come easily at all. It just wasn’t my thing. (Meanwhile, my mom–who had never been particularly athletic–glided gracefully around the rink, skating backward and doing figure eights and other moves I’d observed watching the Ice Capades.) Lets just say I didn’t anticipate ice, skating on it, or ice rinks would ever be a part of my life beyond that one experience.

But then I grew up and became a mother.

Of sons.

Who love ice hockey.

That makes me a hockey mom, I guess.

“I love those hockey moms. You know what they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is? Lipstick.” (Sarah Palin)

I just hope I’m a lot more lipstick than pit bull!

My oldest is particularly passionate about hockey. I can’t remember a day in his life he didn’t have skates on or a stick in his hand, practicing shooting or other moves he’d seen professionals do on t.v. I discovered his dedication the day I heard a suspicious thumping in our Colorado basement. I went down to find him practicing shots against the wall of our home! We quickly established some hockey rules (ie. no hockey in the house beyond taping your stick) and he took his devotion outside, rain or shine. Snow or cold. In daylight and darkness.

Countless winter days he voluntarily shoveled snow…to clear a spot to practice hockey. Every winter he tried to talk us into flooding our yard for an ice rink. And every birthday or holiday, he asked for hockey equipment.

I remember his first hockey game. He was in 5th grade. His team lost. And for the first time in his sports life, he came away from a game loss absolutely BEAMING. I didn’t expect that. I asked him how he felt and he replied, “Mom! Hockey is so amazing! It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s just so fun to play the game!”

Now he is growing up and the hockey experience has changed. He plays not just for fun, but to win. As a high school senior, he is captain of his high school hockey team. He was also invited to practice with the BYU Ice Hockey Development Team and hopes to play for BYU next year. He was chosen to play in the Utah All-Select High School Hockey exhibition game. On New Year’s Day he was selected to play in the Utah High School 2011 All-Star Hockey Game.

On the way home, he looked at me and asked, “Mom, did you ever think it would all come to this?”

Honestly, I never did.

I guess life is a little bit like hockey.

You never know where it’s going to take you. It can be rough, you fall, sometimes it’s messy, things get broken, and like the unexpected life experience of my family, there’s even a penalty box! (Prison. Lol.)

But there’s nothing more exciting, fulfilling, rewarding and skill building. Some days, “Half the game is mental; the other half is being mental.” (Jim McKenny) And the best part? It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s just such a privilege to be a part of it, to play the game.

“…In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter we are alive.” (Stephen Leacock)


I was born in a land of palm trees (California) in the summertime and I’ve always loved warmth. Count me absolutely willing to live in a climate that doesn’t snow, yet I have lived most of my life in climates that snow. (My mom loved the change of seasons, so our family eventually settled in Colorado; my first husband hated hot weather and loved autumn so I lived in Colorado as an adult, too.) I guess you don’t always get to choose the environment you have the opportunity to bloom in.

Lately I’ve experienced not just cold, but some very unusual winter weather. Sure, Utah’s had snow, but I’ve been amazed at the rain! SO MUCH rain. The other day I walked out my front door to a giant puddle of slush (literally) that was my front yard. Today everything is icy—the trunk of my car is frozen shut, I can scrape ice off the inside of my car windows and the ground is icy underneath fresh snow. You never know what you’re going to get for weather in the Rocky Mountains.

Kind of like life.

“Weather is a great metaphor for life. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and there’s nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella.” (Terri Guillemets) The umbrella of optimism and a positive attitude, to be exact.

I’ve learned for myself that every life, every difficulty, every type of “weather,” has it’s own unique opportunities.

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” (John Ruskin)

It’s all in how you choose to look at it. And it’s about what you do with it—what you choose to create out of the challenges you’re blessed to weather in your unexpected life.

“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” (Mark Twain)

Winter Eventually Becomes Summer…If You Just Don’t Quit

At times in my life I’ve lived through experiences that seemed to be “just like the movies,” for good and for bad.

Like the day Federal Agents drove up to my Colorado home for the first time, in their caravan of dark SUVs with dark tinted windows, and every agent got out of the vehicle they were riding in wearing dark sunglasses and navy blue jackets with “U.S. Marshalls” embroidered on the back. I remember standing at the front window of my home, watching their arrival scene that appeared to be straight out of Hollywood, wondering how it could possibly be my experience. It was completely surreal, yet unfortunately, real; real enough I was terrified.

But there was nothing I could do. I had to be there, I had nowhere else to go, so I simply had to endure it.

In reality, every agent was very nice and respectful. Although my fear never left me (it’s hard not to feel fearful when a bunch of government agents are in your home because you, and everyone else, have discovered the man you’ve been married to for almost 20 years has secretly been committing a crime to the tune of 14 years and 20 million dollars), I got through it.

Sometimes, that’s all you can do.

Get through it despite the fear and uncertainty. Face what you dread. And although it doesn’t make you feel particularly courageous when you’re afraid, I’ve learned that facing your fear and not quitting in its face, is courage in itself.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” (Nelson Mandela)

Some days, getting through the day without quitting means you’ve conquered fear. It’s courageous just to carry on. Even if things don’t turn out the way you hoped. To never quit is brave. To press forward is triumphant. And eventually, the fear goes away. Or you learn that you can survive experiences that are epically fear-inducing and come out just fine on the other side of them, with time.

I’m so glad I never quit, despite the many moments I wished I could have!

Because in those cold, dark moments of dread, indescribable fear, utter humiliation and hardship you’re tempted to think will never end, they do. Life goes on after them. And you learn things about yourself you never knew.

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” (Albert Camus)

Summer has always been my favorite season.