today we celebrate

Ever since Jackson moved to heaven, I find it hard to celebrate anything. The holidays are hard. Birthdays are hard. Everything is more difficult to get through without him here.

But today is different.

Today we are celebrating.

Eric is graduating today from Marquette University with an Executive Master of Business Administration. To say I am proud of him is an understatement.

More than 14 years ago Eric decided he wanted to go back to school and get his Masters. We still lived in Mississippi, and he began taking a couple of prerequisite classes needed. He got through one semester, and then life got in the way. There were layoffs and moves across state lines and then children. It just seemed there was never a good time to start again.

But Eric never let his dream fade.

Last fall, he decided to finish what he started.

The program at Marquette had a send-off dinner for students and their spouses. They warned us that night that the next 18 months would be tough on everyone. They said we wouldn’t see much of our loved ones. But Eric and I laughed at them. Eric already traveled 80% of the time anyway, so we thought “How hard could this really be. We’ve got this.”

Well, we were wrong.

It hasn’t been easy. It’s been downright difficult for all of us. Eric was gone even more than he already was. When he was here, he was knee-deep in his studies. And life still got in the way.

We all had to make sacrifices. The kids missed their dad. I missed my husband and partner. Eric missed milestones and holidays.

But we are stronger than that. We supported each other the best we could, and now we are on the other side. And boy does it feel good! 

Our kids probably don’t realize it now, but their dad is setting a grand example for them. He is teaching Kate and Ryder to follow your dreams and never give up. He is showing them what strong values and work ethic look like, and that no matter what, if you set your mind to it, you can achieve your dreams.

At Thanksgiving dinner this year, Kate said, “I’m thankful for dad. Because he asked mom to marry him. And they had me.”

I am thankful for Eric, too, and that he asked me to be his bride. I am grateful for the sacrifices he makes for our family on a daily basis and for the invaluable lessons he is teaching our children.

While we celebrate a devoted husband and loving father today, it’s still a bittersweet day because a very important part of our family isn’t here with us. But I know Jackson will be with us in spirit as we watch Eric walk across that stage and accept his diploma. Jackson will be cheering his daddy on and celebrating right alongside us.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13