Over the past couple of days, I took a break from social media, from writing, from presenting and more. I needed to- all of the things that are normally at the top of my priority list shifted. My family needed 100% of my attention as we went through a sudden and unexpected loss. My mother-in-law, 77 years old, went into the hospital on Friday, March 12th with what she thought were heart palpitations. Less than two weeks later, on Tuesday, March 23rd, she passed away. This past Friday, we held her funeral and said goodbye.

Even now as I write this, it seems hard to believe. The past two weeks were tough. Watching a person that you love decline so rapidly is heartbreaking. Watching my husband lose his mom, my kids lose their grandmother- it broke my heart. I wanted to be so strong for all of them. I wanted to be their support network and I know that I have

Yesterday with the first moments of quiet, I fell apart- finally having the time to deal with my own grief. I journaled yesterday- got out all of my regrets, the what ifs and more. But today, I want to share lessons learned from the amazing woman who I had the privilege of having as a mother-in-law. I want to celebrate her and the gifts she shared with our family.

My mother-in-law did not always have the easiest life. Her life was marked by many challenges. Her sister was born with cerebral palsy in a time where accessibility was not the norm. This changed how her family could do activities and travel. But she never viewed this as a burden. She was empathetic and truly cared about everyone in her path.

She had a warmth that surrounded her that everyone gravitated towards. She was always easy to talk to, you knew that she listened to every word and she made you feel loved. When I met her, I instantly felt it. It didn't matter to her that this was her son's second marriage. She treated my two kids and I as family. She didn't believe in those artificial distinctions. Family was family and she treasured it. She loved all of us, especially her five grandchildren. It brought her so much joy to hear about their successes.

She gave me such a gift- unconditional love in a time where others in my biological family tried to put conditions on their love. She showed me the power of connections through struggle as she made friends wherever she went. She knew that life had struggles, but still found ways to cherish the important things. Although she was part of my life for less than 10 years, she made an impact. I will miss her so, but know that I will always carry a part of her with me.