Well, 2016, has started off with a bang! A bang of water-shoes, laughs and tan lines to be specific! Instead of spending money on Christmas ‘things’ that get used once and then forgotten about the day after, this year my family and I decided to spend money on memories. So I travelled to Cozumel, Mexico with my son, brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew, and enjoyed seven days of blissful sunshine and well deserved relaxation. If you asked me last January, while I was adapting to my new sober, post-Homewood, lifestyle, if I thought I would have, a) been sitting on a beach in Mexico in a year, and especially, b) that it would be with the family members whom I thought I had lost after they desperately and necessarily removed themselves from the road of destruction which I was barreling down, I would have said NO WAY! IMPOSSIBLE! ….But, here I am, sitting in my ‘blogging spot’ (aka bed) with a kick-ass tan and a beach-bag full of memories with those family members.

family lunch

Along this journey of life, we are blessed with meeting people who impact our growth on very profound levels. In fact, under the right non-coincidental (in my opinion) conditions, strangers can turn into friends in all of a heartbeat really. Maybe two people find that they have experiences in common, or mutual friends. But I am learning that strongest bonds are formed through the realization that two people have experienced the same emotions; ‘universal-emotions’ if you will. And further to my very non-scientific observations, the emotion that connects two people faster and stronger than any bond, is that of loss and grieving. The moment when a heart feels the pain of another person’s heart, is in my opinion the bond of humanity.

While sitting around the pool in Mexico, we met a family from Edmonton, Alberta. Striking up a conversation about who’s driveway had the most snow when they left is a given when you are both from Canada, but more pool time together revealed a much greater connection; that of the mutual experience of loss. They were also on a family vacation, but their reason for such a vacation was much different from ours. They were away together to support one another while they grieved the sudden heart-breaking loss of a young lady. Megan, was the wife of one of the family members, and sister to another. She was only 29, and tragically died just this past October. Seeing and feeling the emotion of loss in their eyes was excruciating. While the family member who lost his wife ate breakfast alone, or tried his best to relax by the pool, I could barely contain my tears. I kept thinking of how hard it must be, to try to just…be. And I kept thinking of how close it was that my family almost experienced the same when I tried to take my own life last year. I felt selfish and embarrassed recalling this time in my life, but I have come to accept that I was VERY sick then, and that I need to live in the now in order to continue to heal, and to allow these experiences to increase my gratitude rather than increase my guilt; easier said than done though.

My sister-in-law Mandy, experienced her own connection with our new friends as their story reminded her of her father, Rudy, who died several years ago. The universal emotion of grief may lessen over time, but sadly it never fully leaves, and she couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming amount of compassion for this family, and could identify immediately with their grief.

What this amazing family has realized is that by acknowledging the universal emotions of loss and grief through a charity they have created called, Circle of Angels, they are able to heal together. Amazing! And by doing so they are helping so many around the world do the same! A jewellery designer in the family created a beautiful, small angel accessory in which the family gets together to assemble, while they remember their lost loved ones and inadvertently grieve together.

On our last day in Mexico, my sister-in-law, brother and I were each generously given one of these angels.

circle of angels

I want to once again thank our Alberta friends not only for the gift of these beautiful angels, but for the gift of friendship and healing. See you next year 😀

You can purchase your own angel and learn about this inspirational charity on their Facebook page: A Circle of Angels