Beginnings are scary. That first step and the first few hours that follow, the silence sending volts down your spine.
Seven years ago today, on November 16, 2014, I faced the harshest, most brutal ending as I watched my husband, Joe, take his last inhale.
The end of his life. The beginning of my unknown.
So, I held on to what I could. I held on to what Joe and I had created together.
In one arm, I clung to our 11-month-old daughter, and in my other, my laptop where I’d make my case to care for caregivers like me.
Cocktails & Chemo was born as a blog in 2012 as I watched Joe fight off the side effects of chemo, and I fought my demons of loneliness and despair as his young caregiver. The name made sense as we’d gone from dirty martini cocktail dates to afternoons in the chemotherapy wing at the hospital.
In the days after Joe died, I’d find the letter he left me. As I frantically dug through his office drawers, searching for any sign of him, I’d missed. Desperately burying my nose into his jacket that hung on the chair and praying to find a sign that he was okay, I sat in a puddle on the floor and read his words.
“Look at all you’ve done. Look at Cocktails and Chemo; look at how you’re changing the world.”
He believed in me in a time when I couldn’t, and I used that faith to build our community here at Cocktails & Chemo- we set a vision to care for caregivers who had nowhere else to turn to lighten the load for those holding it all together.
We sold t-shirts, packed care packages, and told stories of the often invisible. We hosted parties at salons and sipped tea as we sobbed together. We gave the hopeless- hope, and as we told our story, our community grew. These caregivers weren’t just wives and widows like me. They were mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, and best friends. While each story and stage was different, they were united in a longing to feel like anyone understood their silent struggle.
So here I am today, looking back at all we’ve done and ending one chapter with Cocktails & Chemo while beginning a new one.
Today, we officially take on our new name: Cocktails & Caregivers- the same goal, the same martini, the same mission, with a broader approach to serving ALL caregivers who need us. Support without the stigma- a place to land when the world feels so hard.
It’s bittersweet, it’s scary, and it’s special. Today, as I celebrate Joe’s angel-versary- I’d like to think he’s proud of us too.
So, here we go, hello to new beginnings with Cocktails & Caregivers. Cheers to those who need us- we aren’t going anywhere.