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A New Kind of 'Perfect' While Dealing With Grief

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For so many years I lived a kind of double life. On the outside it looked like I had it all together. Yes, I had lost my only daughter to cancer. But I was “thriving.” I ran a successful nonprofit that grew more each day. I had the perfect marriage. I simply wasn’t going to let the grief ruin me or my family.

But none of it was real.

In reality I lived in daily agony. My marriage was anything but perfect. I wasn’t allowing myself to grieve my daughter, and it was starting to eat away at my soul. This successful foundation was the only thing I seemed to be doing right, and that success wasn’t because of me. The blessings have always come from above.

Life has settled down tremendously over the past year and a half. I have had to make incredibly difficult decisions, but little by little I see that each difficulty has brought me to where I am today.

Today my life is busy and far from idyllic most days. But in it I have found such true joy.

My life is not perfect. My family is not perfect. But it is perfect for me. They are perfect for me.

It has taken so much work to get to this place. And there’s no way I would’ve made it if it wasn’t for a small army who has surrounded me, loved me and fought for me when I didn’t have the strength to fight for myself.

I still struggle daily with anxiety. Sometimes it feels like my legs are too weak to carry me.

I have some serious PTSD from the traumas of this life. But my little army patiently guides me through those anxiety spells with such love and grace.

I am so grateful for each and every person who has made up my support system over the years. This road has been far from easy, but each of you has made it possible for me to take the steps to move forward. And I couldn’t love you more.

The Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer research in memory of Olivia Caldwell, who passed away from brain cancer at 20 months old in October 2013. To date we have given $225,000 to pediatric cancer research. You can learn more and donate by visiting

Originally published: March 19, 2018
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