Let's see, my first marriage was both mentally and physically abusive. I honestly believe if I would have remained in that relationship, I would not alive today. It was that bad and it still shudder when I think about some of the things that happened. But, if there is one good thing I can say about those years (and trust me, there's not a whole lot of good to be said), it's that I was blessed with a wonderful little boy during that time. He was my sunshine on the cloudiest of days and gave me a reason to keep living on the days I didn't think I could take one more day. It wasn't until shortly after my brother, Rick, was murdered by his abusive ex-girlfriend in 1996 that I had the strength and courage to leave. Unlike Rick, I was able to get out before it was too late. Luckily, I met a wonderful man several months later and we've been married since 1999. He raised my son as his own and we had one more child together. Fast forward December 2011. On a cold December night, just after midnight, my parents' house (my childhood home) was destroyed by a fire and by the grace of God, they escaped in literally the clothes on their backs. 2012 seemed to be better and later that year, my parents moved into their dream home, a beautiful house built on the same property as their old one. Life was good! Sadly, though, not for long. A couple weeks later, someone very close to me attempted to end their life. Not too long after that, a second attempt was almost made. Once that situation calmed down and the person got the help needed, I thought we were done with the drama. Oh boy, was I wrong. In November, I was diagnosed with cancer. That was the final blow. I started to feel myself going into a downward spiral and I was honestly very afraid of where I was headed. And then something happened…I don't remember where I was or what I was doing at the time but for whatever reason, the movie Finding Nemo came into my head. The scene where Marlin decides all hope is lost and he'll never find Nemo and Dory says "When life gets you down, do you wanna know what you've gotta do? Just keep swimming. " played in my head. It was in that moment that I decided I had a choice to make, do I throw my hands up and say "enough, I give up" and sink or accept the path God had chose for me and swim. I chose to swim and "just keep swimming" has been my mantra ever since. I honestly think God put that movie scene in my head that day for a reason.
After my surgery was scheduled for December, I purchased a stuffed Dory and decided she was going to go to the hospital with me that day. She's been to every surgery since. The doctors even let her go into the OR with me.
2011 was a crappy year, 2012 was a crappier year, 2013 HAD to be better, right? Nope, wrong again! In January, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and unlike my cancer, it was caught too late and his battle would eventually end 27 months later. During his treatments and procedures, Dory went with him. She became more than just a silly blue fish to all of us. I purchased a Dory key chain for myself and also one for my dad, although he wouldn't get his until a year or so later....when he went home to be with the Lord, I put his keychain on his hand at the funeral home and she was buried with him.
So that's the story about Dory. Wasn't quite the Reader's Digest version I promised but it's hard to sum up why a silly blue fish has become such an important part of my life.