On Saturday two of my best friends organized a Connor Strong Benefit / 50th Birthday Party for me at the Shelburne Falls Eagles, with the local band Lakeside Drive providing the entertainment. I was completely stunned by the amount of people that showed up. About 250 people were at the Eagles, dancing, drinking, socializing and eating. At first I was reluctant to dance and “look like I was having too much fun” after all this is a benefit for Connor and he has only been gone for just over 2 months. After I had been there for about an hour and Lakeside Drive was really cranking up the tunes, my toes were tapping and I was remembering how much I love to dance, and how much Connor loved to dance too.

I looked a everyone out on the dance floor, having a good time and the idea of having to stand on the side and “not have too much fun” and mourn all night, just sounded awful to me. So the next time they played a song I really liked I put my drink down and headed to the dance floor. Adding myself to the big group of people out there, enjoying the music, the lights and all the people there. I realized shortly that I could have fun and still carry Connor in my heart. A place that he will always inhabit. I wondered for a split second if anyone would judge me, and then decided that these people were here to support me and my family, judging was not on their mind.

There is nothing like being the center of attention, when this cake comes out, with your picture on it (picture supplied by Mom) and then the band and everyone sings you Happy Birthday.

Any thoughts of being judged flew right out the window just like my old life. I’m learning to live this this new normal. Not necessary liking it, but learning to live it and realizing that I will get through it. I am stronger than I ever thought I was, ever thought I could be or needed to be. I realized Saturday not only were we celebrating for The Connor Strong Scholarship and my 50th Birthday, but also celebrating my strength, and my ability to take on this new life.

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