I have come to deeply appreciate how difficult it must have been for Naya to keep smiling and live positively through a very tough fight for her future. In spite of knowing there was a chance she may never fulfill her dreams and her daily physical challenges, she gave us all huge smiles, laughter and constant positive energy. She truly started the day with an attitude to "give it her all" and "enjoy life". She had a purpose and left a legacy because of her attitude. Keeping a truly positive attitude in the face of physical pain and disability, deep loss or daily challenges is REALLY HARD. Let's be honest; it's hard even without challenges. We all fall into habits of complaining even if our lives are pretty good.
Naya's drive pushes me to keep working through my own emotions every day. I remind myself multiple times a day to enjoy everything and take life in. It's not easy, but I think the more I make it a habit, the more it will just happen naturally.
The holiday was challenging, but also full of many joyous times. Our puppy Sam has brought many laughs. I believe Sam was Naya's Christmas gift to us, to help us get through our pain. A second tree now known as "Naya's tree" and a Christmas Eve gathering at my brother's house are new traditions. We deeply missed Naya and my mom, but honored both of them by sharing many laughs and tears together.
We went to California...our first vacation without Naya and my first birthday without her. I took many deep breaths and told myself to go with the flow. I believed special memories and funny stories would come out of the trip. And they did. Watching Zak and Hank laugh, hanging out with happy friends, meeting new ones, witnessing one of my closest friends get married, and spending time with Hank's family were all precious. Moments in life created by a positive attitude and inner strength to push myself.
I'm learning to check my attitude on the most mundane things. I went to the Container Store recently. I thought of that store as an errand. Naya thought of it as an adventure. She couldn't believe there was an entire store dedicated to organizing things. We stayed there for a while because of her excitement.
Daily meals, watching TV, going on errands, shuttling Zak around...these are all opportunities I cherish and have come to appreciate and really enjoy.
Don't get me wrong, we cry and hurt for Naya constantly. That'll never change and I don't want it too. We are forever changed and how we change is what is most important now.
That brings me to resolutions that I've already started. Actively seek the silver lining in everything. Be kind. Be compassionate. Laugh. Give back. Ask and work hard for what I want. Stay healthy. Be positive.
We are establishing The Naya Foundation. It turns out setting up a non-profit takes a little time. In the meantime, if you want to give to Naya's mission, use this NEW link. The old one will go dormant soon.