It was the evening of September 11, 2003. We were watching TV coverage of the anniversary of 9/11 and the phone rings. My mother, who had already been sick for over 5 years speaks with a weak and somber voice. Across the Atlantic in The Hague, Netherlands, her step-mother, my Omi, was found in her bed. She passed in her sleep and was now at peace.

Quickly, we had to make arrangements to travel to Holland together so I could help her. My brother would meet us there since he was flying from yet another part of the country. Coordinating the three of us from different states and less technology than we have today was no easy feat.

An oncoming storm, later becoming Hurricane Isabella, was aiming for our area so we knew we had to depart before it could strike and there was no real time to prepare.

My daughter was 4 so her father and I agreed it best that I take this trip with my mother alone and he would care for her while I was away. This turned out to be even more challenging than we predicted when Hurricane Isabella’s wrath resulted in several days of no power or water but I could do nothing to help from across the ocean.

How fortunate was I to have a great team at work who could take over the wheel of my business. Everything was moving so quickly.

The last time I was in Holland was the summer of 1987. One of my biggest regrets in life was to not prioritize travel to family when we could and to not spend more time with my grandmother who had grown to become a fan.

Observing my mother, I felt her grief had an added twinge. Perhaps it was fear of what was to come for herself. I know the idea of proper succession occurred to me. Since no mother should ever have to bury a child, Omi’s passing created a path for my mother’s. For the first time, I contemplated my mother’s passing. I was only 35 years old at that time and could feel the void of that loss but had no way to anticipate the magnitude.

While we grieved the loss of my grandmother, I was unaware that I was experiencing the beginning… the underwater earthquake that would create 7 years of turmoil, loss, pain, change, growth, enlightenment and rebirth – my life tsunami.