The doorbell rang at six a.m. in the morning.

I lifted my head from a deep slumber and rubbed the sleep from my eyes.

Who in the world would be visiting me this early on a Sunday morning?

The doorbell rang again, and I realized that I was no longer in a dream.

I made myself presentable and then hurried down the stairs to answer the door.

As I creaked the door open, I saw my boss and his wife, who had driven four hours to my apartment.

Ok, I guess I better let them.

We all sat down around the dining table.

Then my boss uttered the words that made time standstill.

Damon, I’ve got some bad news to share with you…

Your mother passed away last night.

A blank stare came was all I could muster.

I mean, what do you say when you hear bad news?

And what do you say when that bad news belongs to you.

I felt nothing at first.

And then, pain.

This was too big for me to comprehend.

It was so sudden.

I didn’t even know there was anything wrong with her.

And then the sobbing began.

She had been my rock.

She gave everything to me.

And now she’s gone.

What was I going to do without her?

I was twenty years old at the time living in a small town in Belgium when I received this news that would change my life forever.

The last time I talked with her was a few months earlier on Mother’s Day.

We had such a wonderful talk, and she shared with me how proud she was of everything I was doing.

That last phone call I had with her on Mother’s Day in 1994 reminded me of all those late-night talks we had as I was trying to navigate the challenges of adolescence.

Now, who was I going to talk with?

Who was going to help me through this challenge?

There was a gaping hole in my soul now.



And more soul-crushing sorrow.

What in the world was I going to do?

So I did what I had been doing for years now.

I took one step forward and focused on getting through the next minute.

Then I focused on getting through the next hour.

Then I focused on getting through the next day.

When overwhelm and grief consumed me, I went back to focusing on just one step at a time.

I did what I had learned from watching her.

For much of my childhood, we had a happy family.

And then the shouting began.

Then my father left, and there she was a single mother with four children and no job.

Even though she had a college degree, it didn’t help her find a job because she had spent the last decade and a half devoted to raising children.

So she did what she could.

We went on welfare to put food on the table.

We woke at two in the morning to throw newspapers each morning.

Then I’d go off to school, and she’d go to her job as a teacher’s assistant.

Then after dinner, she went to night school so she could get the credits she needed to become a full-fledged teacher.

She had this indomitable optimism and love of life.

Perhaps the greatest lesson she taught me came from the way she lived her life.

There was one message that rang through in everything she did.

Tomorrow will be a better day.

I held onto that message, and it became my new rock.

Tomorrow will be a better day.

Life didn’t turn out the way I expected.

It’s become much better than I could have ever dreamed.

Every time life threw me a curveball and kicked me in the teeth, I looked down at the rock that I built my life on.

Tomorrow will be a better day.

I learned that there are three P’s that make life worth living.

  • Pour Your Heart Into It
  • Persistence
  • Patience

Pour Your Heart Into It

Your heart changes when death robs you of a loved one.

You’ll feel numb.

You’ll want to quit.

You’ll collapse with the weight of grief.

Yet, you’ll receive a priceless gift.

You’ll come face to face with the realization that life is short.

Each day is a precious gift.

I’ve lived most of my life knowing that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

I take each day one day at a time and give each day everything I have.

I don’t know any other way to live.


Life is this amazing menagerie of ups and downs.

One day, I’m up, and the next day I’m down.

Everything that has filled my soul with joy is the result of my persistence.

When I faced self-doubt, I took one step forward.

It only takes one step to put myself in motion.

I don’t care if that one step is a step in the wrong direction.

Motion is critical

You can’t change directions if you’re standing still.


Life has its own timetable.

Everything takes time.

I’ve learned that I can’t rush greatness.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I have to do the work and put in the time to get the results I want.

Every time I get frustrated that I’m not progressing as quickly as I want to, I take a step back and remind myself of the following:

I’m not good enough yet.

Patient persistence will make me good enough.


She only lived for 44 years.

This April, I will turn 46 years old.

All my adult life, I looked to the day I would outlive her.

What would my life become?

Next month my wife and I will celebrate twenty years of marriage.

We’ve built a life together that brings tears of joy to my eyes every time I take a moment to smell the roses.

We have four beautiful happy children.

Each day I do work that I love that makes a difference.

I’ve used the three P’s that make life worth living.

  • Pour Your Heart Into It
  • Persistence
  • Patience

Above all, I’ve built my life on the rock of the most important lesson I’ve ever learned.

Tomorrow will be a better day.

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