Although these words were spoken (by Horace) over 2000 years ago, they are appropriate for me today. First, I am beginning. In large part because of the encouragement of some key people in my life and with the help of a new blog-world friend, I have the self-confidence, the emotional energy, and the electronic tools I need to begin this venture.

I also intend to be bold. I’m prepared to be candid, to share my mistakes, my fears, and my hopes and dreams. By sharing, I hope to connect with others who have found themselves living a life they never expected to live, a life that ranges anywhere from slightly bewildering to absolutely terrifying. And through that connection, I believe we can all benefit.

Coupled with that boldness, I hope to be wise. My grandmother always said that it’s from the school of hard knocks that a person gets their best education. If she was right — and Grandma L. almost always was, as I recall — I’ve probably learned more the difficulties I’ve encountered in the past few years than in all my previous years on earth combined!

So I’m beginning, I’m going to be bold, and I hope to be wise. But why am I here? Why am I sitting in front of my computer, writing this blog instead of catching up on this season’s American Idol? To answer  that, I need to go back almost four years. Don’t worry, this will be a fairly fast recap, but it’s one I believe needs to be provided.

One late-May morning in ’09, my husband casually mentioned before leaving for work that he was having  his yearly free, employer-provided physical that day. I barely registered the fact; after all, he was 47 years old and healthy as the proverbial horse. A few weeks later, he called me from work and asked for the name of our new doctor (our previous doctor had retired just a few months prior). He explained that his blood work had come back “a little off” — his bilirubin was too high — and he needed to schedule an appointment to have the test redone.

The company nurse told him the test result could be a fluke or the result of any number of minor things, so I wasn’t really concerned. I called our son just in case; he had just graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in biology and was planning to enter medical school in the fall, so I figured he could explain to his science-impaired mom what might be the problem. My son reaffirmed what the nurse said so, once again, I wasn’t really concerned. My husband didn’t seem worried, either;  he made an appointment with Dr. B for a few weeks later, and nothing else was mentioned about it.

One doctor’s appointment, a liver scan, and a second doctor’s appointment later, and we were faced with a diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer that had metastasized to my husband’s liver and lymphs. In fact, the scan showed a liver that was so filled with cancer that only two spots, both about the size of a pin-point and with almost no depth at all, were not diseased.

Six weeks and one day later, just 5 weeks after eating the home-made apple pie he had requested in lieu of a 48th-birthday cake, my husband, the father of our two children, passed away.

In the 3 1/2 years since September 2, 2009, my life has changed in ways I never imagined possible. As a result, I am living a life I didn’t want and am facing a future far different from the one I envisioned just 44 months ago. Against my will, I am faced with a somewhat-clean slate, ready to be filled with a new life.

Hopefully, you’re reading my words without a single “that’s me” running through your head; hopefully, you have never faced a loss that has turned your world upside-down. Perhaps, though, you have faced the death of a loved one — a spouse or, heaven forbid, a child — or  maybe your loss came in the form of a divorce or an empty nest. Maybe you, like so many others in recent years, have lost a job and a promising career, or maybe you realize that you’ve lost sight of your dreams. You look around and don’t recognize the life you’re living — it certainly isn’t the one you signed up for!

Whatever your situation may be, I hope that you’ll join me here, share your own thoughts and nuggets of wisdom, laugh and maybe even shed a tear or two with me as I live my redesigned life.