Peaks and Valleys

What a year!   I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the need to chronicle for both myself and my posterity the events of this year…sort of as a written testimonial for how good God has been, and how much we have to be thankful for.  When my daughters grow older, I want them to understand where the legacy of their hope comes from…

As I sit here, watching my daughters play in the hallway, I can’t help but take a few sighs.  Most of them are sighs of relief.  A few are sighs of amazement.  Samantha and I still look at each other and wonder about this year, and it’s funny because when we sat down together to plan for 2015, we looked at each other and said, “this is a year that we’re going to look back on and just exhale.”  This was truly a year of peaks and valleys, and all along the way I’m just thankful that I got to share this ride with the most amazing family and friends.

Valleys

Let’s start with the simple stuff: careers and finances (lol, yeah right).  Going into the year, both of us were anticipating big career moves.  Samantha was still looking for her place in the family nurse practitioner world, having bounced around already 3 or 4 different companies trying to find the right fit.  So as we prayed and planned for 2015, one goal for her loomed large: find work that suited her aspirations, talents, and offered the flexibility needed to balance her work and family.  Meanwhile, I was anticipating moving on from a company for which I’d worked for the past 8 years.  I’d virtually spent my entire professional career there, and though in hindsight I probably stayed 1 year too long, I stayed mostly because of the great people that I got to work with.  I developed life long friendships there, that i still cherish today.  The year started with both of us moving on from the companies we enjoyed working for the most.  At almost the exact same time amazingly, all within the first month or so of the year.  Way to kick of 2015 right?

Peaks

On the heels of this news we discovered that we were pregnant with baby #3.  And, immediately afterwards, we were fortunate enough to close the deal on a new home.  Both were cornerstones in a long term plan that we’d been progressing towards over the past 5 years, complete our family and move into the home that we hope to grow old together in while raising our children.  March ended on such a high, getting to watch the builders transform an empty lot into the framework for our new home, seeing the baby on the sonogram, and on top of that…both of us being offered new roles with different companies.  My wife was finally getting ready to see what it meant to have a job that she truly loved, and I was going to have the opportunity to stretch in new ways professionally as I took on a new challenge.

Valley

We were walking through Perimeter Mall when I received the phone call: one of my best friends who had been battling cancer for the past 3 years (after being initially only given 6 months to live), was on life support.  His family encouraged us to return home as soon as possible.  Right there in that mall, in the food court no less, I broke down crying in front of my daughters.  My wife, who has been there for every tough moment in my life the past 13 years held my hand.  The next day I went home to Anderson  to visit him.  Sitting in his hospital room with his father and other family members, my sister and I shared memories and talked with Josh.   At times he was responsive.  Most importantly though, not knowing if this would be the last time i saw him, I told him just how important our friendship has been to me and that I loved him.  I left honestly thinking, though he looked terrible, I just couldn’t see him succumbing to this.  He just seemed to have too much fight in him.  Less than a week later, while leading a trip to Albany, GA, i got news at 5:30am that Josh had passed.  Faced with a tough decision, I choose to continue my trip, return home to Atlanta, pack, and a few hours later board a flight to…Mexico.  One of my other best friends (I only have 5 or so), was getting married that weekend, the same day as Josh’s funeral and I had to choose.  The thing is, these friends new each other, so there was mutual support and condolences. In the end I choose to join my friend by his side as groomsman, as a celebration of friendship in honor of Josh.  I think he would have approved.  All the while, I couldn’t help think about the picture of all of us (me, reggie, josh, alfred, and yusef- my best friends) all together 10 years earlier on my own wedding day).  The last thing I told Josh before I left his bedside was, I want you to be there in May as Samantha and I host a reunion to celebrate our 10 year anniversary…

Peaks

Speaking of celebrations…days later after returning from Mexico, we closed on our new home and both of us started new jobs.  Within weeks we neared our 10 year anniversary.  Instead of the large reunion party we initially envisioned, we instead took a weekend away to ourselves at local spa.  Given the hectic pace of life the past few months, traveling, changing jobs, packing, moving, unpacking…it was just nice to pause and enjoy each other’s company in serenity for a few days.  Samantha by now was entering her 3rd trimester and so this was a great time to relax.  Headed into the summer we experienced a few more happy events including a 2 family reunions hosted in our new home, our annual couples gathering, a somewhat botched beach vacation, and the successful start of a new school year.  Both of our oldest girls were starting new schools, and while Olivia didn’t take well to pre-k initially (now she loves it), Riley thrived in Kindergarten.  But the best news of all was yet to come…

Valley

“Samuel, I’ve been in a car accident.  The ambulance is taking me to the hospital.”  I could hear my wife holding back tears over the phone, but i knew she was being as brave as she could given the circumstances.  It was late August, and she was by now full term pregnant.  I don’t even remember where i was when i got the call, all i know is that I’ve never driven that fast in my life.  I got to the hospital where a friend (Whitney) and her mom met me.  The next 48 hours was a bit of a whirlwind, staying overnight at the hospital for tests to make sure mommy and baby were well (they were), hunting down the damaged van that my wife had to abandon (thanks Chris for our late night adventure finding my car!), haggling with the insurance company…and finally getting home.  It was truly one of the more scary events that’s ever happened because it took everything in my positive thinking arsenal to prevent me from imagining the worse.  Fortunately, both the love of my life and our precious baby girl were ok, no scars, except for the lingering emotional ones from this traumatic event.

The journey continues…

It was only fitting that London Hope Wakefield came 2 weeks after the accident (her middle name by the way came to me as a representation of what this year has meant: hope).  The last 3 months of this year have gone by so quickly and now, we sit 4 days from Christmas, with a 5 year old, 3 year old, and a 3 month old.  Heading into 2016 we’re preparing to take stock of the highs and lows, lessons learned, and opportunities for progress.  Most importantly though, this year, more so than most seems like so much life has been crammed in.

Life.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  And now the baby is waking up.

SDW3

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