These twins mean so much to me and not just because I love them or because they are my nieces. They represent so much more. They were born 21 days before my husband Rob died. They were a shining light through one of my scariest and darkest months. I remember the day they were born I headed to the hospital to photograph them and I remember telling Rob where I was going. His brain at this point in time was no longer working right so he would say things that didn’t make sense.  He said not to go. That it was dangerous. He insisted I stay home and began to get angry. I don’t share this to make fun or embarrass him. I share because it was my real life for so long. Living with a person I had lost. Living with someone that was no longer themselves. Living with someone that could no longer think and process simple information. I didn’t share much of those struggles at that time. I was in survival mode.

When I look at these twins and see how much they’ve grown. I look at myself and see how much I’ve grown since Rob’s death. I’m not the same person I was 17 months ago or the same person I was 3 years ago when he was diagnosed terminal. Too much has happened. Too much has changed.  I’m not grateful for Rob’s death or my breast cancer, however I am grateful for the person I’ve let myself become. I could choose anger and bitterness. Instead I choose joy and happiness. A lot of days that choice is hard. I’m thankful for the empathy I can now show others. I’m thankful I have a story to share to help others going through similar situations or hard times. Thankful I can find the light in the dark.  

Over this last year I’ve come to realize that a free pass at the hard stuff in life doesn’t come after your spouse has died.  One may like to think it does as I did.  I was so wrong. There was another storm brewing- my breast cancer.  I am happy to leave that in 2017.  As I begin 2018 I do believe good things are in store for me, but not because I deserve them or get a free pass, because I will make them happen. I will choose my own adventure. Will trials also come along? Yes! But I will draw on strength from trials past.

More About Valerie

Valerie Holt was born and raised in California. At the age of 12 she found herself battling cancer for what she thought would be the first and only time in her life.  She married and had 3 beautiful daughters.
In 2015 cancer hit her life again, but this time with her husband.  He was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor and would die just 17 months later.  She thought her battles with cancer were over, only to be diagnosed with breast cancer in the beginning of 2017.