Chapter 27. Empty Shoes at The Bee: Finding Courage in Loss

It's funny how even the best-laid plans, the most articulate set of directions, can still leave you scrounging in the dust for a map. The mind is a funny thing that way; it tricks you into comfort and steadiness, into feeling prepared and ready and standing on solid ground.

But sometimes there's no map to follow. Sometimes there aren't even roads built yet for where life wants to take you. That's what I discovered when my Dad was diagnosed with cancer in June 1997.

Aside from the emotional implications of such news, this kind of impending loss threw a myriad of questions into the air about the future of Longaberger. Like feathers escaping a down pillow, questions were ubiquitous that summer, floating around us and settling gently on our shoulders. We didn't yet feel their heaviness, but we felt the weight of their reality, and that was enough.

As summer's vibrant greenery drained into the flaming colors of fall, Dad and I began to connect more every day. We talked for hours about everything, leaving no stone unturned as we moved through life and legal and accounting issues. We had candid conversations about the business and about what it would look like going forward. We began working on planning his estate. And perhaps most importantly to me, we became closer than we ever had before, finding common ground, love, and forgiveness. It was a rich time of sharing I will cherish forever. Those 18 months of slowing down and coming ...

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