Thursday, March 31, 2016


I received a very nice note from a woman who came across my story. At the end of her note, she wrote, "And kudos to your sweetie. Real men stand up with their women."

Her sentence made my heart swell. A complete stranger put into words the very reason I fell in love with my husband 9 years ago. 

I remember when I first approached James about sharing our story publicly. I needed to make sure I had his full support or I wasn't going to do it. He looked at me with that "oh here we go" face and I asked, "Bad idea?" He smiled and said, "It will be hard, but I wouldn't expect anything less from you."

One of the things I love most about James is he doesn't try to change me. I'm not sure why, but he loves me for me. He always says my passion is both my best and worst quality, and he's right. It's what makes me so loyal, allows me to love so deeply, and what fires me up in an argument. He knows that. And sharing Grace's story was no different.

I can tell James is struggling with our loss in his own way. I want to talk it out and he wants to leave it alone. But through our grief, I'm recognizing more and more that James is always standing strong right beside me, and he gently lifts me back up when I need him to.

He will come home from work and tell me "good post on the blog today." He will leave me secret notes on our milk in the refrigerator that says "I love you and believe in you." He scratches my back until I fall asleep when I'm having anxiety at night. He takes Joe into the other room when he can tell I just need a moment. He holds me when there are no words to make it better. James has the softest yet most prominent presence of any man I've ever met.

The night before the press conference, I practiced my speech with him at least 10 times. After my last run-through, I completely broke down. I'm not sure if it was nerves, or saying her name over and over, or just reliving the feeling of losing her again, but I sobbed. James hugged me tight as he always does. I looked up from his mascara stained t-shirt and asked, "What if I have a complete breakdown like this tomorrow and I can't continue?" He replied, "Then I will finish it for you."

Watch the channel 5 coverage of the Tennessee Stories Project press conference here.