Military Spouse Magazine

NOV 2018

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Page 9 of 35

O U R L I V E S This month we celebrate Veterans Day and give thanks to all the brave men and women who serve our great nation. We also find gratitude and thanksgiving in our journeys, recognizing that each person's path is shaped by both joy and hardships. I want to share my journey in finding gratitude and how that has healed my soul. One day I was the wife of a Special Forces Green Beret, SSG Michael Harrison Simpson, and the next I was his widow. I was 35 years old and had two beautiful boys ages 3 and 1. As my friend Lisa Hallett so often says, I learned how to stand alone but not be alone. In the days, weeks, months and years following my personal tragedy, my eyes opened wider every day. The darkness turned to light and grief was coupled with joy. I saw the compassion my boys embodied with their tiny servant hearts. I found the blessings in every- one who walked into our lives. I knew that the events had to happen to lead me to feel the unwavering love and support of our community, and it allowed me to bridge that Choosing Joy Seeing the miracles through the hardships. By Krista Simpson Anderson, 2018 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year® YOUR POWERFUL STORIES gap between us and many civilians. I was the "other side of war" and I was real. You could see me, touch me, look into my eyes filled with pain, wipe away my tears, and then watch me find love and joy again. When I would tell people that Mike was a casualty of war, I craved to follow up with all the blessings we have received since he passed. There are too many people to name, but it started with our Casualty Affairs Officer, SFC Gerry DeMarzo, and how well he took care of our family. Kathleen and Adam, dear friends who have become family, met at the foot of Mike's bed in the OR after his accident, and today they are married. The bond I have with the women who stood by me in those days and haven't left my side since is unbreakable. And perhaps my greatest blessing was in meeting Gus, Mike's teammate whom I met after he returned from Afghanistan. Gus loves me and our boys so earnestly and honors Mike every day. I am not just blessed to be Gus's wife, I am honored. Another blessing I've realized has been through co-founding The Unquiet Professional (TUP) with my dear friend Andrea Rinaldi. Due to the kindness we received after Mike's death, TUP was created to provide healthy and empowering opportunities for Gold Star Families and veterans. My blessings present themselves every day with the vol- unteers we have who work tirelessly. I've learned so many things about life and about love since Mike died. Most importantly, I've learned that when we choose to see the miracles in the hardships, we are choosing joy. We recently moved to Fort Belvoir, Va. While receiving our household goods, two empty chests that were given to us to hold Mike's belongings (one made by a friend and the other given by the Army) were not delivered. I posted the missing items to the "Lost During My PCS" Facebook page. So much support came from our community but one response was extra special: The spouse of the chaplain who greeted and cared for us when we arrived to Landstuhl Army Medical Center in Germany when saying goodbye to Mike contacted me. She told me how our family's grief and grace changed her family, and how her husband has honored Mike by wearing his name etched in a bracelet on his wrist ever since. The chests were found, but I believe we had to lose them in order to reconnect with the chaplain and his wife. I see it all as God's big plan. Mike's death made me a bet- ter Christian, mother, friend and now wife. It showed me we have to lead with mercy and grace even when we want to tear someone down. It made me realize that you never know what is happening in someone's life, so reach out and offer your help (I'm still work- ing on this one, for the record). Sometimes the pain is so great that it's hard to see light through the darkness. Whatever your faith, whatever you believe in, everyone can believe in goodness, kindness, joy and the empowerment to give and receive them all. Sometimes we only need to mentally change our perspective. It takes practice - trust me I've been there and continue to fail. The beauty in it is that every new day gives us the opportunity to change the world even if only one smile at a time. Join me in a 30 day gratitude challenge on starting Nov. 1 and allow the power of your testimony to be the light for others. H MAY 2013 Battling Bare raises awarness of PTSD and TBI. MARCH 2015 How invisible wounds of war can make their mark on the entire family. OCTOBER 2015 Milspouse Theresa Johnson spearheaded a mission to honor our nation's fallen.. OCTOBER 2017 Honoring the incredible contributions of The Women of World War II. 10 MILITARYSPOUSE.COM / NOVEMBER 2018

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