I went to a wedding over the holidays. Not just any wedding, it was Joe’s best friend’s wedding. It was beautiful, it was full of love and it was the hardest thing I’ve done since losing Joe.

The bride and groom honored Joe in every detail from the ribbons the groomsmen wore to inviting Mira to be a flower girl. I handled the day like any other busy mom of a toddler, chasing her up the aisles during the ceremony and carrying a napless two year old to the car. I put on my lipstick and handled it. I handled it because I knew how much it meant to the groom who pulled me aside on the most important day of his life, with tears in his eyes to ask for my approval on the bright blue ribbons with Joe’s initials.

Ribbons worn by groomsmen at Joe's best friend's wedding.

Ribbons worn by groomsmen at Joe’s best friend’s wedding.

It was after I sent our girl home and I headed into the reception that I felt the emptiness next to me. Friends nuzzled me between their own coupled up chairs and quickly sent their husbands to get me drinks and make sure I didn’t feel alone.

When you take a life as big as Joe’s out of a room there’s no way not to notice it. As each song played I’d have a moment where I was sure I’d turn around and there he’d be. He’d be bringing me a drink and dancing his small step shuffle all the way to me. He’d kiss me on my neck and make me drink a water then pull me to the dance floor where we always seemed to take over with our ridiculous spins and Beyonce hand waving.

Joe was the life of every party, every group, the loudest in every conversation and the last to go to bed.

When I’m hit with heartbreaking pain like I felt that weekend I quickly start to think about what I need to do next. What can distract me and help heal these wounds?

A party.

A huge party.

A party the size of Joe’s love to help others.

It makes sense and it’s what’s next on my list of this year’s life goals.

A Cocktails & Chemo Foundation gala to raise some big money and help even more cancer caregivers this year.

So Joe used to always say when you put things out there they start to happen. We lived a “fake it til you make it” motto and often found that living the life you want gets you there. (Just don’t buy a Louis Vuitton you can’t afford, that life is not coming to you.)

Cocktails and Chemo is in the running to win a FREE gala at a beautiful venue in central Florida. The Bella Collina gala contest could be our ticket to throw an event the size of Joe’s bigger than big life and love.

Send us all your good vibes, share this blog, put the tag #WINABELLAGALA and let’s show this contest how much love we have behind us to make this happen!

Bella Collina