As January came to a conclusion, so did my father-in-law’s life. Though we did not know the severity of his cancer until just a few weeks before he passed, something within he and I seemed to know that Now is the time to put down our fears and dare to Connect on a deeper level.  

Fears of inadequacy (I am not a man, and I’m certain that he would have preferred that for his daughter) and agitation with political views took a back seat as immense Love bonded us forever. It’s the same love I now feel for my mother-in-law, despite our differing opinions about the silliest of things, like where our shoes should be stored when they’re not used. Every time I put my shoes where she wants them to go, I smile now. I love her.

Regrets Help Us  

My regret for not finding my way past my righteousness and fears of inadequacy with my father-in-law sooner, has gifted me the ability to do it now with my mother-in-law, and others. I’m less judgmental, more patient, and more tolerant because of my experience with Eric’s passing. This year, he will get the full salute at Arlington cemetery as his ashes are placed along others who proudly served our country. On that day, I will whisper, “Thank you, Eric. I love you.” 

In late April, one of our dreams came true as we closed on a beautiful home in our favorite place, the place we were married just 12 years before, Lewes, De. As we stood in the kitchen, popping open a bottle of champagne, I thought to myself, “We’ve gotta dream bigger. What else do you really want, cause you Can have it all.” 

A Dream Came True 

The dream of having a getaway home in Lewes began just 18 months before we closed. We did not think it was possible, given our income level, but we went out and looked at homes anyway. It was strongly a sellers market, there were bidding wars, and we could not imagine staying in any of the homes we were looking at. Part of me wanted to throw in the towel, another part of me just wanted to keep looking. 

Then, one day, Yvette saw a piece of land that looked like it was going to be developed. These homes were way outside of our price range, but still Yvette wanted to go see the model homes which were 40 minutes away. It was a beautiful summer day, the last day before we were to head back to Baltimore, and Yvette wanted to use that time to go look at the model home. 

Given the cost, it didn’t seem worth the effort or time away from the beach, but when she said, “I have a gut feeling about this,” we got in the car and went. I’ll never forget the discomfort I felt in my stomach as I watched her fall in love with this home. It was more than double what we thought we could afford.

Wait for the Miracle 

Then, some things happened, and suddenly this home became a possibility for us. We closed at the end of April, our neighbors are the kind I’ve always dreamed of having. We share everything, check in on each other, and do fun stuff together. Today, we will do the polar bear plunge at Lewes Beach.  

In September, I listened to another gut instinct and headed to Pennsylvania for a silent meditation retreat. It was hard in ways I could never have imagined, and a blessing beyond anything I could’ve ever conceived. Here’s the long story, made short… 

The retreat was held at a Jewish facility, which meant that I could not bring outside food on campus. Two weeks before the retreat, I had begun an elimination diet, hoping to figure out which foods were contributing to inflammation in my body. When I saw bagels and cream cheese for breakfast the first morning, I nearly lost my mind. In an effort to rid myself of this discomfort, I proceeded to eat every cookie I could find.

An Unwanted Blessing 

Sitting in meditation with people I was desperate to learn about is already hard enough. Add in shame and physical discomfort and it’s nearly impossible. Anger and frustration grabbed my mind, begging me to throw in the towel and tell Someone about how upset I was. So, I went into the forest and talked to the trees for an hour. It was among those baron trees that I heard what was most upsetting for me… I heard… 

“You don’t matter.” 

It was the first time I heard that shitty thought. In the moments that followed, I took a step back and noticed all the ways in which the Universe (and Me) was showing me that I mattered. That belief, held in the light, lost its grip. No longer do I need to hustle for my worth… I matter to Me, and I know that I have always mattered to the moon, sun, and stars, along with the one that placed them the exact distance from each other to ensure just the right amount of warmth.

The Death of Denial 

In November, I received a call from my mother… the first one I had received in years. “Your father has Lewy Body dementia. He’s in a nursing facility now,” she said. I didn’t know what to say or do, and so I just listened and offered love. 

The next day, I received a text… “he’s in the hospital now.” My mind spun as I sought the answer to my question, “What would love do?” This time, because of my experience at the retreat, I was included in the answer. 

A day later, she called to let me know he had passed, there would be no service, and she didn’t want me to come. And so, I sat with the deep knowing that my humanity—that part of me that cries when shit hurts and tries to offer comfort to others who are hurting—was the part of me that she didn’t want to come. “What’s the point in crying about it… it is what it is,” she said. 

When Grief Is Gripping

Overwhelmed with grief, and sometimes confusion (I don’t know if the decision not to feel will ever make sense to me), I listened hard for the nuggets of wisdom that have always come from such immense difficulty. This is still fresh — I am still mining. 

A few weeks later, I received a message from one of my nieces, asking to visit for Thanksgiving. Given her disappearing act over the previous several months, I wasn’t sure how to reply. “Of course you can come,” I said, trying not to think, or feel into this, too much, though something didn’t feel right. 

At 6am, I received a call from her mom. It was incoherent, but clearly concerning. When I finally got ahold of my niece, I learned that she had been on a two-week bender and was hoping I could fix her alcoholism. I’ve been in Al-anon (a 12-step program for friends and families of alcoholics) for long enough to know that she needed help I could not give her.

Love Looks Funny Sometimes 

I flew her back home, and then cried my eyes out over the phone with my therapist, who ultimately said, “Misti, love looks funny sometimes.” Something about those words felt right, and so I told her how much I love her, and made sure she got home safely. 

Two weeks later, I realized that the food situation at the retreat was also “love looking funny.” Things don’t always go the way I think they need to for me to feel ok or safe in the world, but they do always go exactly the way they need to for my spiritual evolution.  

As I enter 2023, I am carrying three gifts of 2022 with me— 

  1. Let love cast out fear,
  2. Love looks funny sometimes, and
  3. Dream big and pray… with a hoe in my hands.

Join me? 

Happy New Year!  

Here’s to your greatness, 

Misti Burmeister 

Misti Burmeister helps companies and leaders motivate and inspire excellence. For nearly 20 years, she has facilitated communication that results in trust, increasing engagement and productivity across generations. Make sure your communication is coming across the way you intend, visit