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For more than a few weeks now, I’ve been a little checked out, kind of disconnected and pretty numb.  I’ve wanted to write but I’ve needed to escape from my own reality.

It’s been months of true tests for me, and I am finally coming up for air and trying to manage the many lessons.  Honestly it feels worse than cramming for finals and more like I am failing than making the grade…

Let me begin with Feb 4th. My closest friend and hair stylist Steven Lake tragically passed away.  It was an unimaginable accident and the details are inconceivable.

You may know him from his weekly updates as part of the Perfect Hair Duo here at ModernMom or the hundreds of pictures I posted all the time of the two of us together.  Steven is all over my BB365 page because we spent practically half our time together.  He was part of my Glam Squad, the best friend every girl wishes she could have and the best damn hair stylist in the biz.

We’ve shared a decade of memories, been there for each other through thick and thin, and he truly was one of the few who knew my deepest darkest secrets. He made work fun for me and brought meaning to a shallow industry. He made me smile at early hours – like 4 am in a crappy studio – and inspired me a million times when I tapped out on shoots.  He calmed me and helped me breathe easy even during my most stressful live moments in front of millions. And that’s just the work stuff, which never felt life work. In real life, he was my BFF. I am beyond lucky to have shared that kind of authentic relationship with another man besides my husband, and I am stunned and terrified by his sudden exit from this world.

It took me a week to process the reality of his death.  I went straight into mommy mode, planning and organizing the necessary details with his family. It wasn’t until I tuned in to write his obituary and listened to the beautiful stories shared at his memorial that reality set in.  I had a difficult time grieving because none of it seemed real and he is with me daily in so many ways. Many of us at ModernMom put together a beautiful page dedicated to Steven so his memory may live on and many moments can continue to be celebrated. I will continue to add pictures as friends and family share them with me.

I write this, not as my own therapy, but to tell you what helped me though this horrific time.  I choose to keep my spiritual beliefs personal because I have great respect for everyone’s different path.  But I had a deliberate and conscious change of mind that has helped me with my loss.

My relationship with Steven was multi-layered because not only was he my dear friend and confidante, but he was also practically my right hand at work.  Knowing that I will never be able to replace him and that no one will ever be good enough rocked my working world.  If you can imagine how my Glam Squad is my second family and how tight we’ve been for a decade, then imagine the pain when suddenly one member disappears – nothing feels right.

Instead of being, sad, angry and nervous about the future, I had to open my mind and my heart to change.  I think this applies to all relationships.  When one ends, we aren’t always fortunate enough to know why.  “Why?” isn’t a question I need answered.  No answer could satisfy me.  Faith in the possibility that change will be beautiful is what I am resting on now.

We hear all the time that everything happens for a reason and I generally believe this, but when in pain, this philosophy can also challenge your faith.  In this case, the reason goes out the window but I continue to have faith that there is light at the end of the tunnel and change is coming.

Having thyroid cancer didn’t change me, because I try to live my life to the fullest.  Losing my BFF scared the living S*!# out of me.  Because love is vulnerable and loss hurts so much.  But I am grateful that I shared such a deep friendship with Steven.  Someone once told me…”You are lucky if you can count your true friends on one hand.”  I’m not sure I have five true blue friends, but I have several and my relationship with Steven was one of them, precious and authentic. It will forever bring me joy not sadness.

Here’s my fortune cookie:

I actually HATE change, but now I’m leaning to embrace it…. I have no other choice.

I know wherever Steven is, it’s a special place, and he left me in a special place too.  I miss him desperately, but I will hold on to the happy memories and not allow myself to drown in the sad ones.  Trust me, that wasn’t my philosophy two weeks ago, I felt like my life came undone, but I’ve gotten there.

A quote that we wrote on my DWTS dressing room wall said “How do you feel on the inside?” It was our signature question to remind us to stay connected.  Last week I felt lost, but today is a better day and I am learning new ways.

Here’s an AMAZING book if you’ve lost a love one and you want to celebrate them instead of letting go: Angel Catcher: A Journal of Loss and Remembrance

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