I met her a little over 3 years ago.
I had a 2-week-old baby strapped to my chest and a toddler by my side. I had just crossed the line of new baby adrenaline-fueled invincibility into zombie-level exhaustion.
Carrie was my cousin's dance teacher. The studio owner actually. Close to my age. Married the same number of years as my husband and me. Brand new baby. Enough similarities in our lives to make me feel an instant connection to her.
As we watched the performers dance to a song I'd never heard before*, I was told that her husband had recently died in a tragic accident. Just weeks before they were to welcome their miracle baby into the world.
This crushed me. In fact, I'm not sure I had ever experienced such overwhelming empathy until that day.
A few weeks later, while hiding under the covers scrolling through my Facebook news feed late one night, I saw a status update that made my heart stop.
Carrie was gone.
A sudden, unexplained illness had taken this young dance teacher's life and left her 4-month-old daughter an orphan. I wept there in the dark under a layer of blankets feeling an equal mix of gratitude for my life and paralyzing fear because I realized something...
Nothing is guaranteed. Tragedy can happen. More than one tragedy can happen to the same person. Life is Beautiful. Fragile. Short.
Over the next several months I asked myself a lot of questions. I asked God a lot of questions.
I wondered about Carrie's daughter and how this tragic beginning would shape her story.
I allowed myself to get dragged into the undertow of grief for a woman I knew only through a brief introduction. I mourned the idyllic, untouchable life I had planned for myself.
When I came up for air I realized a few things. Life IS beautiful. Life IS fragile. Life IS short.
Life is also Hard. Painful. Tragic.
And yet, we can choose to celebrate. We can honor every moment we have.
In the last 3 years I have watched young mothers die of cancer and heard about babies born too soon, or not at all. I have watched friends suddenly lose their parents or struggle to find fulfilling employment.
Through it all, I have asked myself if this "Fete Today" concept holds up in the face of real heartbreak.
I believe it does.
Not in an "everything's coming up rainbows and puppies" kind of way, but it a hopeful, "let's anticipate what kind of beauty can come out of this," kind of way.
So, that's the way I have decided to live my life. Celebrating the everyday moments. We're not guaranteed tomorrow, so celebrate TODAY. Whatever that looks like. Maybe your kid didn't bite the dentist...or maybe he did...at least celebrate that the appointment is over for another 6 months.
We get one chance at life. Might as well fete the heck out of it.
*"Man, you wouldn't believe the most amazing things that can come from some terrible nights."
-Some Nights, Fun
Let's see what amazing things can come from the terrible nights.
Becky Perry is the CEO and co-founder of Fete Today, Inc. She lives with her husband/business partner, two little boys, and a menagerie of farm animals. She likes to overuse ellipses, is pro-Oxford Comma, and regrets the decisions she made about her eyebrows in the early 2000s.