Mandy Senn-Simmons celebrates a new season of life.
Your child has been in an accident. Please call this number ASAP.
Your husband has no sign of brain activity.
You have an ectopic pregnancy.
Your baby boy has complications that are incompatible with life.
Your dad was septic, and his body couldn’t hold on.
Your mom’s heart was simply not strong enough.
These are all statements that have been said to me within the last decade. On some days, these events seem like a lifetime ago while on others, they seem like just yesterday.
On one hand, I know I was blessed to have a pretty uneventful life until I was in my 30s.
I 100% took my mundanely happy life for granted – my remarkable parents who were married for 53 years; the thought that I could simply get pregnant and have kids anytime I wanted; the audacity to forget that we aren’t promised tomorrow.
My world stopped when I received “the text” that my 6-year-old son and his father had been in a car accident as they were having a father/son outing in Atlanta. By the grace of God, my son only had a broken arm. His dad was not as fortunate. He had a severe brain injury and was only with us five more days before he went to his Heavenly home.
How do I move forward? How do I provide for my son? What does the future look like?
I mainly remember this time as a big blur. Doing what needed to be done logistically but not recalling specifics. What I do remember is being so sad but feeling very grateful for so many people (friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers) stepping up to help in many ways. I will forever be grateful for these people – and I can’t even name or remember them all – but they lifted me up and carried me through a seemingly impossible time.
Along the way, I received some great advice. Don’t let yourself be completely grief-ridden for more than 24 hours at a time. When the grief is completely overwhelming and paralyzing, cry it out, scream it out, pray it out – do whatever you have to do for a 24-hour period. Then, get up, get dressed, put one foot in front of the other, and keep it moving.
Over the years, I’ve had a few of these grief-ridden days. They are amazingly healing, as I believe you need moments to sit with the emotions you are feeling. However, I feel it’s equally important to “keep it moving” and remember all the amazing things in life that still surround us.
Sometimes people ask me, “How do you handle everything?” Or they will say, “I don’t know how I would handle some of the situations you’ve been faced with.” My response is always, “I pray you never have to, but you are stronger than you think, and you never know how you will handle difficult situations until you are faced with them.”
Since “the wreck,” I’ve lost two babies and both my parents. However, I’m able to continue life with a smile on my face because of my faith. I truly believe I will see all my loved ones again, and that provides great comfort.
So, for “my story,” yes, I have experienced tragic events and grief that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. However, that’s not what I want people to know about me. Grief is not my story. Hope and happiness is my story.
I want people to know that no matter how bad things are, it will get better. Life has seasons, and some are simply better than others. Quite frankly, some seasons suck! However, some seasons are beautiful and complete with all the things that fill your soul.
That’s the season I’m in now. I have an amazing husband Kris and a beautiful, blended family whom I love so much. Kris adopted my son Parker, and I am the bonus mom to two boys Grayson and Jace, a daughter Wimberly, and an amazing son-in-law Dylan. Our family is topped off with our little Shih Tzu, Harley.
I’m also so incredibly happy with my career and work-life balance. Yes, a positive work-life blend can be achieved! Kris and I run a video production company 6 STRONG MEDIA, and we are blessed to be one of those couples who can actually work together and remain married! We do everything in our power to ensure an easy and fun experience for our clients, employees, and vendors – but family is our number one priority. So, when we have middle school tennis matches, wrestling matches, or band concerts after school, we’re not missing them. We know we aren’t promised tomorrow, so we must prioritize what’s important.
If I may leave any lasting thoughts, I would encourage anyone who’s grieving the loss of someone or something to know that it will get better. This too shall pass – or at least become more manageable. Also, don’t forget to look around and remember all the things you have for which to be grateful. Smile, find joy in the small moments, and take nothing for granted.