Tough times and grateful hearts…

It's truly a blessing to have a loving family surrounding you, food on the table, and a house to call home and unfortunately, there are far too many people that aren't that lucky. I was always very fortunate. My brother and I went to Catholic school from K-8th grade, we were always able to take multiple vacations a year, my Mom always had a brand new car, I rode in a limo more times than a lot of people can say they have in a lifetime, and I just got to experience so much at such a young age. My family and I were truly blessed and always so grateful, but everything changed in the blink of an eye…

In 2010 my family and I lost our home to foreclosure right after our family business fell through. Thousands of other families throughout America were losing their homes and businesses as well as a result of the financial crisis in 2008. My parents did everything possible to try to save our business and our home but unfortunately, it was not enough. We lost not just a house but, our home. A place where countless memories were made. A place where we loved and celebrated each other and life. A place where we grew into the family we are today. 10 Christmases, 10 birthdays, 10 dance recitals, mine and my brothers' first days of school… all left behind. It was an extremely hard time for my family as a whole, but my parents took it the worst. It was the worst possible feeling seeing my Mom and Dad so upset. They felt defeated and like they let my brother and I down. I would lay in my bed at night and just stare at the ceiling and cry, not because we had to leave, but simply because of how much it hurt me to see them like that. I was just ending my first school year in a new school. I was in 10th grade and had no idea what was going to happen to my family and I always asked myself WHY? and how it would all work out. There were only about two houses available for rent in our town and we had to make one of them work because my parents didn't want to pull my brother and I from our school district and add even more pressure on us.  I thank God every day because about a week or so before we had to be out of the house we were fortunate enough to find a house for rent not far from the house we were leaving. I remember going to see the house for the first time and actually being excited for the new adventure we were about to partake on. I walked into what would be my room… it was eggshell white with two big windows overlooking the backyard and light brown hardwood floors. The sun was shining through the windows and it was warm and just felt like home. At that moment I knew that God had sent us there for a reason. Everything worked out and we were able to move in just in time. The packing was very emotional and the moving was very hard work. We had to leave a lot behind as we had to downsize, but we did it. I remember saying goodbye to my childhood bedroom. I was trying to stay strong for my family, but I went into my room for the last time, closed the door, and sat on the floor and just cried. I looked at the writing on the walls in my closet. I looked at every mark on every wall and every stain on the carpet and remembered how they got there. I remembered moving in and getting my walls painted dark purple. Letting go has never been easy for me but words cannot describe how hard this specific moment was.

My family and I lost a lot during this life changing process. It's safe to say that the people who truly care for you will stick with you throughout anything life throws at you. We not only lost things, but we lost friends as well which was very hard to handle. There's nothing more we could've done and we were one family out of thousands of others that this happened to. Throughout this process, we found out who our true friends are and we are now able to appreciate everything that we have a little more. We love harder and treat each day as a blessing. My parents are the two most selfless and caring people I know. They work extremely hard to provide for my brother and I and have given us both more than we could've ever wished for. Since we lost the house we've made it through another move and multiple other life threatening challenges. My parents are the backbone to this family and are true survivors. I love you, Mom and Dad. Thank you for making me who I am and showing me what it truly means to pick up and move forward with a heart full of love.

If you or someone you know has gone through something similar to this, please share your story. I am not sharing this to make people feel bad for me or my family, but to simply show that greater things can come from the worst of times. You are not alone.

Always grateful, always blessed…

Stephanie