It didn't matter what we were doing, it was always fun. For example, we spent New Year's Eve of 2006 cleaning the pores on our nose with Biori Strips...this is how crazy I was about Jen.
Before I met Jen I didn't believe in myself and I was struggling to figure out my purpose in life. Jen changed all of this...she encouraged me to follow my dreams and to trust my gut. Jen believed in me, even when I didn't. We were best friends and Jen taught me so much about life, Love, and happiness.
I still remember the way the air felt when I made this photograph.
While Jen was in treatment many people told me they didn't know what to say to us so they just kept silent. The thing is, you don't have to know what to say. Just sitting next to a loved one and holding her or his hand is more powerful than you can imagine. Don't run away, be there.
Jennifer and I met on this day, eight years ago...I knew the first second I saw her that she was the one. Jen was so beautiful and strong; she was full of life.
I understand I have to heal and that Jen didn't want me to spend the rest of my life feeling sad, but she knew what this road would be like for me - Jen had been a widow for 10 years by the time we were married.
These days are often the toughest...anniversaries can put things in perspective. We've all lost someone we love. Let's go easy on each other and try to be more understanding on these special days.
I remember flying to Manhattan on October 3rd, 2006, with an engagement ring in my pocket. Jen said "yes," and then we hailed a cab and headed to - our - new home.
Now I look at this nearly finished book and it sinks in that Jen passed, that this is real, and that I have to keep moving forward.
Some days I feel strong; some days I fear the wind will blow me away. But, those windy days come less and less while my memories of Jen grow stronger and brighter.
One thing I loved about Jennifer was that she soaked up every bit of life.
This is one of my favorite photographs of Jen and me. I always admired Jen's ability to see the good things in life even when the bad things were more prevalent. Add this to the lessons learned from Jen...
Twenty years ago my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. I was 19 years old and did not yet realize how little I knew about life. Ten years ago my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was starting to realize how little I knew about Everything but I still didn't have a clue about how precious life and Love are. Five and a half years ago Jennifer was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now I know.
Along with Jennifer's Love, watching my parents take care of each other is the greatest gift ever given to me.
Having one of those moments when I would give anything to have a conversation with Jen. Jen had a way of understanding; she would listen and never dismiss my problems as being unimportant. No matter what was going on in my life I always knew there was one person who understood. Right now the emptiness of Jen being gone feels like the weight of the world.
F/Stop was all about Jen. When I would leave the apartment he would strut over to where ever Jen was and jump up next to her. He was my right hand man.
This morning I woke up feeling calm. I'm starting to accept that life will have ups and downs and that I just have to focus on staying in the middle.
If you know someone who has lost a loved one don't be afraid to ask how he or she is doing. You may get an answer that is tough to hear, but it helps us.
Last night Jen was in my dreams. When I woke up it took a few minutes to realize that Jen wasn't here with me..that it was only a dream. I try my best to stay positive and to remember all of the good times but some days it just feels like rain.
There are times when it hits me that Jen died. It comes from nowhere and without warning, and it leaves me stunned. People say that time heals but there are moments when it hurts just the same as it did the moment Jen passed.
The summer before Jen passed our family and friends held a benefit in our hometown of Akron, Ohio, to raise funds to help cover our medical costs. Jen and I were in Manhattan so my brother Dave set up a wireless connection so we could "be" there. This is one of my favorite memories from that night.
From the beginning of our relationship Jennifer told me I should try yoga. "I promise you'll love it," she would tell me. It took a few years but I finally gave it a try. We were at a yoga retreat and Jen was right, it was incredible.
For the next few months our friend Kendra, a yoga instructor, would come to our apartment and we would have a private session. Some days Kendra would put us in restorative positions. Jen and I would hold hands while our body and mind slowed down. I still can feel Jen's hand in mine.
Yesterday my sister Mary Ann signed the two of us up for a yoga class. It was very emotional, Jen was with me the entire time. At the end of the practice I felt a calm that has been missing since Jen passed.
Another gift from Jennifer.
In 2010, not long after her cancer metastasized, Jen walked across the stage and received her diploma. Jen worked so hard to finish school - Marriage, full-time job and oh yeah, cancer. I was so proud of her.
When I start to get overwhelmed I think about this and I reach deeper inside to find the strength to keep going.
Jen NEVER gave up.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon visiting my parents in the house I grew up in. This house has also been the only home my mom has ever lived in, save for a few months after she was born. This month mom will be 86.
As I pulled out of the driveway I kept wondering (like I always do when I say goodbye) if I told them everything I am feeling. Did I tell them I love them enough? Have I thanked them for putting up with and raising me...I know I was difficult.
Maybe it's the point in life I am at and the thoughts that come after watching a loved one pass, I don't know for sure. I do know that I cherish every second I spend with my them.
We met. I knew. You left. I followed.
You said "Yes." We married. It came.
We grew closer. We picked up the pieces. It came back.
We Loved more.
You left. I will follow.
I remember coming home with my first mohawk...Jen loved it. One of the coolest things about Jen was that she didn't judge - what mattered was who you are.
The way we saw our relationship was like this - You walk out the door in the morning with your helmet on and life tries to break you down. When you get home there is no reason to need a helmet. We wanted to make life easier and happier for each other.
Last week I bought a bicycle, my first one since I was a teenager. Today I took the SS Love-It-All out for its maiden voyage. When I got home I thought about Jen and the day she started using a walker. I remember a few months prior to that day when the pain from Jen's cancer put an end to Jen's jogging, which she loved to do.
Nothing is too small to take for granted.