As Long As I Have Her With Me, I Will Always Be Okay

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This is a follow-up story documenting Cyndi’s ongoing grief journey. To read Cyndi’s full back story click here.

“In June, I turned 40. My 20s can be summed up in three words: mistakes were made. My 30s can also be summed up in 3 words: love found me.

The funny thing about living life knowing real love exists is you can’t un-know it. I know without a shadow of a doubt I was loved by my husband, but that’s not where I found unconditional love. I found it in the heart of my daughter.

My 8-year-old daughter is a special kid.

A young girl wearing a pink shirt sits at a table
Courtesy of Cyndi Smith

I have learned more about life from being her mom than I had in my 31 years on this Earth prior to her birth. I loved selfishly before her, only considering how I felt in every situation. After her, I learned to love people with everything I have. I learned love is sacrificial. It’s so easy to love people when everything is perfect. It’s harder to love people when life isn’t going as originally planned. Her dad knew the power of that, probably because he was staring down death.

Perspective is everything.

She has also taught me forgiveness is not just an option you have that you can take whenever you feel like it, it’s a prerequisite for Christianity. She never gives up on people, and because she doesn’t, I don’t. She loves like Jesus. She believes the world is good, despite knowing the heartache of losing her dad at a young age. She has a contagious laugh, and she smiles with her whole face. If she loves you, you’re the luckiest person in the world.

A young girl wearing a bow smiles with foot in her mouth
Courtesy of Cyndi Smith

I hope as she goes through life, I can teach her just as much about life as having her has taught me.

I hope she always dances like nobody is watching. I hope she knows being bold in a world that wants you to conform isn’t a character flaw.

A little girl poses in the grocery store
Courtesy of Cyndi Smith

I hope she always finds joy in the little things, like overfilling a bubble bath.

A little girl sits in an overfilled bubble bath
Courtesy of Cyndi Smith

And like driving 2 hours just to see something beautiful that won’t last long—because time is fleeting, and if you wait to see something amazing, you just may miss it.

I hope she always knows turning your face to the sun and the Son no matter what the circumstances are will never take her down the wrong road. I hope she always looks for the light in every situation.

I hope she never takes life too seriously. I hope she always finds laughter in every situation because it’s always there.

A mom and her daughter make silly faces in their car
Courtesy of Cyndi Smith

May her whole life find her surrounded by the best friends money can’t buy. I hope she laughs so hard she cries with them, dances to loud music with them, always shows up for them when they need her. I hope she always knows the value of having quality of friends over quantity of friends.

When life gets tough, I hope she remembers the times when I rested then kept going. I hope she remembers the days when I cried, took a nap, then got up and ordered pizza because cooking dinner was not in me that day. Women think empowerment is running ourselves into the ground. There is no trophy for exhaustion. Rest is required for true empowerment. Slowing down is underrated.

A little girl sleeps in a car while wearing a visor
Courtesy of Cyndi Smith

Maybe one day when she’s all grown up, she will put value in memories and experiences instead of money and things, because that’s how I raised her.

I hope she always knows how beautiful she is. I hope she fully understands that, in a world where women are raised to hate their bodies, there is power in throwing on a bikini because you love the way it sparkles even if you don’t have six-pack abs.

A mom wearing a swimsuit at the pool while her daughter swims
Courtesy of Cyndi Smith

Eat the food. Drink the beer. None of us are getting out of this alive, and I would rather die fluffy and happy than skinny and sad.

Always spend holidays with people you love.

Watching fireworks with people I love is one of my favorite things to do. I’ve been lucky to be able to do that a few times this summer so far.

A firework display in a dark night sky over the American flag
Courtesy of Cyndi Smith
A mom and her daughter dressed up for the 4th of July
Courtesy of Cyndi Smith

Maybe she will stay out too late on a school night when she’s so happy she can’t stand to end the night ‘on time.’ Throwing schedules and caution to the wind sometimes is where the magic lives.

A little girl plays outside late at night
Courtesy of Cyndi Smith

She walks into every room like she owns the place. I do, too. Head up. Shoulders back. Confidence looks good on everyone. The world is going to tell her she’s not enough. It’s my job to make her always know she is forever enough for the broken world we live in.

If she carries herself through life knowing the importance of making memories, she will always feel fulfilled. I hope she climbs every mountain just to see the view from the top.

A little girl sits on a rock overlooking a valley
Courtesy of Cyndi Smith

I hope she is never in too much of a hurry to pull over on the side of the road and see something amazing.

I hope she finds the beauty in every sunset.

A sunset with orange fading into blue
Courtesy of Cyndi Smith

But most of all, I hope she knows loving with your whole heart and soul may open you up to heartache, but in the end, love will always win.

I hope she never lets the pains of the world dull her sparkle. I have walked through pain. I still shine when the light hits me just right. And oh, how she does, too.

A little girl kisses her mom on the chin
Courtesy of Cyndi Smith

Raising Quinn without her dad was never the plan. Focusing on what’s really important has helped us thrive despite heartbreaking circumstances beyond our control.

I don’t know what 40 has in store for me. I know life with her is never boring, and we will continue to teach each other how to handle loss and love. As long as I have her with me to figure it all out, I will always be okay.

That’s all I know so far.”

A mother and her daughter stand in a field of sunflowers
Courtesy of Cyndi Smith
A little girl wearing bows in her hair and a Mickey Mouse shirt
Courtesy of Cyndi Smith

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Cyndi Smith of Moody, Alabama. You can follow her journey on her website hereDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories from Cyndi here:

‘He quietly wrote, ‘Before I die, I want to see my Quinn grow up.’ We never thought for a second he wouldn’t.’: Widow shares how husband understood the value of a moment, always ‘showed up’

‘Cancer didn’t stop him from being the best dad. If anything, it magnified who he was and what was important.’: Young widow shares husband’s selflessness, despite battling cancer

‘We promised him he could die at home. Every mile felt like 100. I live with the ‘what-ifs.’: Widow recalls dying husband’s last journey with cancer, ‘I know he is free’

‘I cooked three meals a day. The house was clean. My husband came in the door knowing he was getting a home-cooked meal.’: Widow urges ‘nothing is promised’ after husband’s battle with colorectal cancer

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