There’s something about helping your husband pull together information for your own obituary that tends to shift your perspective. On life, on your purpose, on what really matters—and how all of those things tie into the work you do on a daily basis.
The funeral photo I selected earlier this year, when recovery seemed out of reach
While building my real estate business over the last 15 years, I’ve attended conferences, listened to podcasts, hosted events, scheduled repairs and photoshoots, negotiated hundreds of deals, served on numerous Summit County area commissions and boards, and spent way too much time trying to best Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm. I’ve opened and managed my own brokerage, sold off the property management side of my business and had the real estate brokerage acquired. I became a top producer in my market for a national real estate brand. It’s hard to put into words how much of myself has been poured into growing, going, learning, doing; becoming something more on behalf of the clients I serve.
So you can imagine how gut-wrenching it’s been to watch it all dissolve like those first flurries of winter snow.
And when I say gut-wrenching, by the way, I mean that literally. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back things up to the end of 2022.
. . .
I was living in a completely different world at this time last year. Both personally and professionally, 2022 was a huge success. I emerged as the Top Producer at Compass in the Summit County market yet again, and entered the new year completely energized and expectant of a strong 2023.
The beginning of this year met my expectations on all levels. I spent weekends throughout January and February skiing with my sons, Daniel and Karsten, while my husband, Dave, enjoyed golf trips in Florida and Arizona. February brought a fun change of scenery as the boys and I embarked on a week-long adventure to Mexico. The first week of March was business as usual in Breckenridge.
And then came March 8, 2023.
The Compass Top Producer luncheon. A celebration of the previous year's achievements, and the last clear memory I have before entering into a six-week health crisis that went on to define the majority of my year.
Severe stomach pain was my first symptom. Following the luncheon, I was rushed to the ER where I underwent emergency surgery to correct a twisted intestine. Complications quickly escalated. The surgery led to septic shock, and over the next two weeks, I endured four additional surgeries, coded and was restituted, and spent five and a half days in a coma.
Once I returned home following those first three weeks in the hospital, my health deteriorated rapidly. I lost 35 pounds and was classified as “failure to thrive” due to my inability to eat or drink. Bi-weekly infusions were necessary to provide me with nutrients and hydration. My recovery at home required the assistance of in-home health care nurses and therapists. For five months, I relied on an ostomy bag to deal with basic bodily functions.
As you can imagine, I’ve never felt sexier.
Especially when my signature curly locks of hair began to fall out by the fistful, and I had to turn to Dave to shave my head. That was probably my lowest point emotionally—until we discovered that I’d racked up a total of $974,000 in medical services. (Insurance companies often get a bad rap, but I truly thank God for insurance, as we were only responsible for roughly 10% of this.)
. . .
As summer approached, I traveled to Pennsylvania to recuperate at the lake where I spent summers while growing up—a place filled with childhood memories. However, my health struggles persisted. I was so weak that I had to be driven 100 yards to get to the beach. My kids would pull me in a float across the lake and wouldn't leave my side when I was in the water. In August, I had my fifth surgery, the reversal of the ostomy. This led to my sixth surgery in five months, and more complications. A few weeks post op, I got dizzy while pumping gas and fell, resulting in a black eye and seven facial stitches. September brought another challenge: a rare strain of C.Diff infection that required more than 45 days of antibiotics.
At times I envied marathon runners, who have a pre-existing framework for the word “perseverance” in a physical form. I’m not a runner (and at the time I was barely able to walk a quarter mile), but I still managed to persist. It helped that amid these trials, there were still glimmers of hope. My hair began to grow back. My people encircled me. I received overwhelming support from my church, extended family, friends, and even strangers in the form of prayers, meals, cards, care packages, and flowers. Slowly, I started to return to work.
Which brings us to the present.
. . .
December of 2022 was a mountaintop. The middle chunk of 2023 was, quite literally, the valley of the shadow of death. As for December of 2023—this very moment? I’m somewhere in between.
Overall, I remain optimistic. I have my life, my family, and—finally—I have my health again. I’m filled with immense gratitude and have experienced a cataclysmic perspective shift that will forever inform my definition of what’s big and what’s small; what’s worth it and what’s not.
In all honesty, though, work has been painfully slow.
When you seemingly fall off the face of the earth in the middle of major conversations pertaining to real estate, clients have to look elsewhere to tie up loose ends. I completely understand why my clients needed to move on, and I probably would have done the same if the tables had been turned. But deep frustration over my lack of progress in securing new contracts and working with clients remains a daily battle.
With that said, I’ve built a business before—and I have confidence that I can do it again.
I’ve never been more aware of the fact that I can’t control the future. But I’m determined to enter 2024 strong! My family is thriving and I’m anticipating a great year of reconnecting with clients, growing my business, and booking last-minute flights to Mexico just because.
In and out of the office, you’ll find me operating with unparalleled excellence. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow, and I’m not planning to take a minute of my second chance at life for granted. Plus, when you’ve looked death square in the eye and can make a joke about which picture you want featured at your funeral service, even the most complicated real estate transactions start to look like tiddlywinks.
This journey has tested me, but it’s also fortified my resilience. I’m more determined than ever to excel in my profession and make a meaningful impact in the lives of my clients—and I truly hope you’ll be one of them.
With gratitude and joyful expectancy,