A good day.

29 Jan

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post. And I know people have been curious. How did the holidays go? How does it feel to be approaching the one-year mark? What does “normal” feel like these days?

The answer to each of these questions is, it depends on the day. As I’ve said before, the best question to ask is, how am I … today? I’m happy to report that today was a great day. One of the best days ever, in fact.

Today. January 29, 2012… my husband John and I attended the Bocuse d’Or USA 2012 competition in Hyde Park, NY. John and I both have a passion for gourmet food, so for us it was like having box seats at the super bowl. The winner, Richard Rosendale, was just announced a couple of hours ago and will represent the USA in the 2013 Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France — the Olympics of food — one year from now. The judges of the event were culinary royalty, and we met most of them personally. It was one of the most exciting days of my life.

As exciting as today was, I can can’t help thinking about one year ago today. January 29, 2011… John and I returned from a business conference and noticed that Julian had some unusual bruises. That was the first night that we sensed that something wasn’t quite right. We didn’t know it then, but we were right on the cusp of the worst thing that could happen to a parent. Oh what a difference a year makes.

So, yes. I could dwell on that milestone. I could let my brain go back to that day and the weeks that followed. I could re-live all of that pain. It wouldn’t be hard to do. But yet again I’m reminded of one of my core beliefs: I can choose to focus on what I have lost, or I can choose to focus on the gifts that each day brings. As Pema Chödrön says, “Moment by moment we can choose to go toward further clarity and happiness or toward confusion and pain.”

Some days, like today, it’s relatively easy to choose to go toward happiness. Today, I have the strength to keep the negative emotions at bay, and feel gratitude for the wonderful things that have happened in the past year. Not the least of which was becoming friends with Chef Gavin Kaysen, who represented the USA in the 2007 Bocuse d’Or and will be the 2013 team’s coach for the coming year. It’s because of Gavin Kaysen that we were able to attend the prestigious event today. And it’s because of Julian that we met Gavin.

Here’s how it happened: Last spring shortly after Julian died, my dad was in NYC and went to Gavin’s restaurant because he’s friends with Gavin’s dad and was curious to meet his friend’s famous son. He asked to meet the chef, and they chatted for a while. My dad described how much his daughter and son-in-law appreciate gourmet food, and he also shared Julian’s story. Gavin, being a father of a young son and with another on the way, was moved by our story.

As it turned out, Gavin was coming to Minneapolis a few weeks later to cook for a fundraising event. One thing lead to another, and he and my dad came up with a plan for Gavin to come in a day early and prepare a meal at my house as a very special birthday gift from my parents to my husband John.

On July 22, 2011, Gavin arrived in Minneapolis and came to our house to spend the day cooking with John, and prepare a wonderful multi-course meal for us and our best foodie friends. We’ve considered him a friend ever since. Our friend, the world-class chef and Bocuse d’Or USA head coach.

I share this story for two reasons. First, because it was exciting to see Gavin in his glory this weekend, sitting at the head table with Chef Thomas Keller, Chef Daniel Boulud, and others. And second, because I believe it is important to celebrate the good things.

None of us needs to be reminded that sometimes bad things happen to good people. But good things happen to good people, too. Life is full of good things and bad things, big things and small things.

The question is, what do I focus on? Do I wallow in my grief and think of January 29, 2011? Or do I feel grateful for the exciting day that was January 29, 2012? Or better yet, do I look forward to John and I joining Gavin in Lyon, France on January 29, 2013? I think you know my answer.

I will never forget that I have suffered an irreplaceable loss. But I will not let it prevent me from having a life that includes joy, wonderful new friends, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.


Posted by on January 29, 2012 in the second six months


Tags: , , , , , , ,

9 responses to “A good day.

  1. Jim Eaton

    January 29, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Hi Em….Mom and I were/are thrilled to be a vicarious part of one of your best days ever!

    Hugs to both you and John. See you soon!

    Love, Dad

    • Nancy Veronen

      February 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      So good to see you Jim and catch up on news of your wonderful family. You all may be interested in an organization which began in Italy in 1986 as a protest against Rome’s first McDonald’s. Slow Food MN (Twin Cities) are people who love and care about good nutrition and the environment. I recently learned about them through my friend Molly Broder who owns/operates Broder’s Pasta Bar and Broder’s Cucina Italiana. It has more than 100,000 members worldwide. They have regional events, tastings and cooking demos plus bimonthly dinners for members. Visit the cite at

      As another bereaved parent I want to applaud you Emily on your courageous and honest postings. Your determination to fully experience all that life has to offer is inspiring. I know your one year anniversary is coming up and I want to share something that helped me. I too had another child named Luke who was in second grade when his baby sister died. We were trying to think of a way of honoring that day when Luke said to me “Why can’t we remember Erica by loving each other and having fun?” Out of the mouth of babes. Every year we’d make it a special time to get together. Some years we’d go skiing or take a drive to the North Shore or see a play or a movie. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

      Nancy Veronen from Bad Medicine Lake

  2. Deb Mathews

    January 30, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Wonderful story……thanks for sharing. Love, Aunt Deb

  3. Kim Victora

    January 30, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Great post Emily 🙂 you are a wonderful inspiration to us all?!

  4. Lisa

    January 30, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Wow, sounds like a dream come true for both of you! I love to hear how you always strive for the positive… You are very inspiring! I’m ALWAYS thinking of you!!!!

  5. Deb Mathews

    January 30, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Wonderful story……thanks for sharing. Love you.

  6. Leanne (Trebilcock) Avila

    January 30, 2012 at 10:11 am

    What an awesome day! (I geek out a little watching Top Chef.) Here’s to France in 2013!

  7. Darlene J Lund and Tom

    January 30, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Thank you for the uplifting update…it’s so good to hear you joys and laughter. Tom and I continue to pray for you and we love your Mom and Dad.

  8. jenrad-HelpingHimGrieve

    January 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Love how you mentioned “gratitude.” Sometimes we are not thankful for what remains here with us, the support, love, relationships etc. No matter where you are that day, your child will be at your side. Thanks for sharing…


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