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A personal Thanksgiving timeline and why 2010 is our best yet

Typically here on AG, I cover technology and news and don’t write much about our personal lives but in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I would share with you what Thanksgiving means to me this year (hint: it’s less about turkey than you would imagine).

Back in 2002, Benn and I met at a Starbucks while I was studying for a horrendous science course I was taking at UT. What I haven’t told him but I suspect that he knows is that as soon as I met him, I knew I would never spend a Thanksgiving pathetically alone at Denny’s as I had the year before (long story for another day). In 2004, Benn and I got married and had our first married people’s Thanksgiving and because it was my first turkey to ever cook, I didn’t want any visitors, so Benn pulled out the Christmas tree while I carefully basted and re-basted the cheesecloth over the eight pound bird.

When the timer was done, I removed the cheesecloth and revealed a burnt carcass and nearly cried. Benn gingerly came over and poked around the turkey and realized it was so tender that the juicy meat had fallen off of the bone and was in the broth below. It was the best turkey we’ve ever eaten in our lives even to this day. After we stuffed our faces full, we started decorating for our first married people’s Christmas in our home together.

The next year, we found out we were pregnant and expecting our first child together, a son named Kennedy. We were caught off guard but were very excited and Benn offered up his beautiful french doored office as a nursery. But all good things come to an end and we learned that Kennedy wouldn’t make it much longer. Two days before our third trimester began, Kennedy came into this world as a stillborn on November 22, the most cruel of days (the very day President Kennedy was assassinated). But we had planned a very elaborate, beautiful Thanksgiving at our home with my parents and instead of cancelling, in a very doped up state, I cooked another wonderful Turkey just a day and a half later. It was beautiful. The meat didn’t fall off of the bone, but Benn watched me from the living room the entire time as if I were a piece of China teetering on the edge of the cabinet and wouldn’t allow my family to tiptoe around me and he gave me a sense of normalcy.

On September 23, 2007, we lost my little brother to a single car accident but this time, Benn and I were the only ones able to eat turkey with a smile because even though Aaron was our best friend, Benn has always been my rock and helped me to prepare a beautiful meal that didn’t disappoint.

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Fast forward to 2009…

In 2009, we drove to my mom’s in Wimberley and dreaded every moment leading up to it because my family still had (has) not recovered from the loss of my brother and they all still look at me as if I’m him and they have these sad eyes knowing how close we were. But not Benn. Benn has always been my rock and seems to be the only person in the world that knows that no pain or sadness will stop my world.

A month later, we were writing content on AG and Benn said he was having some arm pain. Because Benn shares all medical issues with me, I didn’t think much of it and kept working. At about 10pm, he said it was getting worse. In our marriage, it seems as if I’ve always been the one hurting and needing assistance. I’ve had labyrinthitis making it to where I couldn’t walk without his help for months or see straight for weeks, I’ve had an impacted wisdom tooth and subsequent infected jaw (pain worse than labor, by the way) and frequent losses. But now he was saying he wasn’t confident he’d make it through the night.

We jumped into the car and drove across the road to the hospital. All signs pointed to normal. All scans, bloodwork and tests showed nothing was wrong. They gave him a Mylanta and told him to lie down (which his body wouldn’t allow him to, the pain had become to severe). After several hours in the ER in a tiny room with a curtain where they were putting us to be ignored, his pain finally became so severe and nurses were ignoring us and his heart rate was so erradic that I took his leads off hoping that they would see him coding. I screamed in the hall that my husband was having another heart attack and there wasn’t even a nurse at the center island. They were going to let him die right there.

Because the doctor didn’t appreciate his short tone, they doped him up (which is the worst thing you can do to a heart attack victim although they said he wasn’t having any heart attacks). So then he could feel the pain but couldn’t communicate verbally. I watched his vitals and could tell when he was having an attack. After the eighth hour, he could no longer stand (the position his body wanted him in) and had to sit but couldn’t lay down. He was so doped up and if he was touched it would cause severe pain. I stood beside and behind him in the bed with my hands almost but not quite touching him in case he fell over because he was literally slipping in and out of life. I unplugged his leads again and they came to tell us he was being released.

RELEASED? He’s dying in my arms and you want to F***ING release him? I threatened to call an ambulance to transfer us to the heart hospital and they said we could see a cardiologist in a few hours when it was morning. We insisted on getting a private room and they finally obliged.

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As new nurses that came with the private room came to retrieve him, they started firing questions at me and began giving him nitroglycerin. Why? “He’s having a massive coronary,” I was finally told as they carted him behind two solid doors I wasn’t allowed to go into.

He had had over eight myochardial infarctions and a final massive coronary that if we hadn’t been rude and insisted on a private room, he would have died from.

Let me tell you… losing a child and losing a sibling/best friend cannot compare with your rock, your love, your spouse slipping away and your not even being able to touch them. Nothing compares with that silent moment in a hospital in the cardiology wing that isn’t even open yet so the lights are mostly off and no one tells you what’s going on. Nothing compares to the pain of knowing you probably just saw your everything carted off for eternity.

A few hours later and two stents later, he came to and he was so confused and the meds had him all mixed up. He thought I didn’t want to be there and he kept insisting he could get up despite being told he had days to spend in the ICU recovering. I would have given anything to trade places with him as the doctors affirmed he had 9 total heart attacks as his valve would shut close and stop blood flow then start back up again.

That was 2009. This is 2010.

I can smell the evergreen candle burning in our kitchen and Benn is on the couch with our daughter (my stepdaughter) watching stupid Thanksgiving shows. We’re eating cutlets this year to ensure there’s no fat because even though the heart attacks were not diet or exercise induced (which the cardiologist told us we’re doing well with) but simply a bad valve, we want to keep life going for as long as we can, just in case. This year, we are at home again- a simple, yummy, quiet Thanksgiving just the way we like it just like in 2004.

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2010 is the best year because I consider these bonus years. If I were alone this Thanksgiving, I would quietly be at a Denny’s and would never tell my friends I was sad or alone. I wouldn’t have my solid foundation, the love of my life, the person I’ve been with for almost my entire adult life. 2010 is the best year because in this bonus year, we’ve gotten to know some amazing people and work on some really incredible projects. We get to continue watching the world change and we are together and there is literally nothing more in this world that I would want.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I hope you will consider this your bonus year as well and look your loved ones in the eye with the deepest gratitude, especially if they are your backbone, your heartbeat, the air you breathe and your everything the way Benn is mine.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Jenz

    November 25, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    That was beautiful, Lani, thank you for sharing that!

  2. LesleyLambert

    November 25, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Lani and Ben, please hug each other and say “this is from Lesley”. I am so touched that you shared this story and I will live today as an extra day and each one after that. Love you guys.

  3. aMY L cavENDER

    November 25, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    You guys are awesome! Thank you for sharing your story. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


    November 25, 2010 at 3:55 pm


  5. BawldGuy

    November 25, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    The gift of knowing how blessed we are, while we’re young, is priceless. The rest is epilogue.

  6. Melissa Zavala

    November 25, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Wow, Lani. What a story. I admire you for sharing it, and wish you a wonderful day with the ones that you love.

  7. Ken Brand

    November 26, 2010 at 7:30 am

    There’s a 101 reasons you guys are easy to love, this is a beautiful story about beautiful people.

    For me this is the the amazing and rare thing, and it revolves around this quote, “Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it”.

    You two are supreme givers and life-lovers, when it would be so easy and normal (and understandable) to go the oposite way – but you rise:-)

    Happy Thanksgiving for decades to come. XO

  8. Paula Henry

    November 26, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Lani – what a beautiful story of love – wishing you many happy Thanksgiving’s together.

  9. Greg Barnhouse

    November 26, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks for sharing such a touching, yet moving part of your lives, Lani & Benn. It’s reassuring to know that in spite of the challenges one faces in life, there are motivating positive examples out there like the two of you. I enjoy hearing, even though they were tough times for you, about difficulties others face in life and how they have overcome the hurdles they faced. Life comes at you pretty fast, and this shared knowledge helps other people to endure to the end.

    We have so much to be thankful for!

  10. Coleen DeGroff

    November 26, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Lani – Your post brought me to tears. Blessings to you and Benn….for everything you’ve been through, for today, and for everything that is to come.

  11. Lani Rosales

    November 26, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Thank you everyone for your kind words, we count ourselves lucky to have friends like you 🙂 We hope you enjoy the rest of this holiday!

  12. Audie Chamberlain

    November 26, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Happy Holidays Benn and Lani. Wishing you continued success and good health in 2011.

  13. Missy Caulk

    November 26, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Lani, I can hardly type through the tears. Oh my bless you all for sharing what your journey has been. I don’t even know what to say about the hospital. Since my husband has had 2 heart attacks, and yes I drove him the first time too, I can’t even imagine what you were going through.
    Well at least up here they are very conservative when you come in with chest pains. I can not imagine Benn having to suffer like this.
    Love you guys!

  14. Kelsey Teel

    November 26, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I LOVE BENN AND LANI ROSALES! 🙂 You guys are the best.

  15. Greg Cooper

    November 26, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    I hope you’ll tell that story again in 20 years after you two have celebrated another two decades of Thanksgivings together.

  16. Dan Connolly

    November 27, 2010 at 12:39 am

    Wow Lani,
    I think you made up for all of the “don’t write much about our personal lives” in one fell swoop.

    Your post is important to let people know that if you love someone you have to take an active and aggressive role in their medical care. I had to have a full blown fit in the ER to get them to take my wife in immediately, after they had released her after breast cancer reconstruction surgery. I knew something was terribly wrong and wasn’t about to let her sit in the waiting room. It turned out she was having a pulmonary embolism, (blood clot in the lung) which could have been fatal. Everyone should know that hospitals make mistakes and you should always sleep in the room with a loved one and check their medications before the nurse gives them. My mother died at 67 after going to the hospital because she felt strange and they missed the fact that she was having a heart attack and sent her home. She died an hour after she got home.

    When things like this happen and you survive, all of the petty bulls#!t evaporates. Life becomes more precious. Sounds like you have a lot to be thankful for, thanks for sharing.

  17. Matt Stigliano

    November 27, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Lani – I’ll never forget reading tweets about Benn that night. I can remember how worried you sounded and how worried it made me. I (along with many others) are thrilled that Benn got the help he needed, but more importantly that you two have been there for us and that you’ve shared some very personal moments, always teaching me something each time.

    You know I consider you two like a strange sort of mother and father to my real estate child. Your story made me reflect on a few personal things from this past year and you know what, despite everything, it is a bonus year for me. Thanks for the reminder.

    Please tell Benn (or eventually I’m sure he’ll pass by this comment) I wish him continued health and I wish both of you that same love and strength you’ve found in each other.

    We’ll have to swamp Denny’s stories some day.

    • Matt Stigliano

      November 27, 2010 at 8:41 pm

      I think I used the phrase “more importantly” a little wrong there. I didn’t mean that you being there for us was more important than Benn’s health. I think you know what I meant, but my fingers get ahead of themselves occasionally. You know that I think the world of you two. Keep rockin’ and giving so much.

  18. Jim Dague

    November 28, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Best article I’ve read this year! (And I read A LOT.)
    Thanks for the wake-up reminder.
    I am grateful.

  19. Lani Rosales

    November 29, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Thank you all for your support and thoughts and for reflecting on your own situations. It is hard to be sad when there is so much suffering in the world, our difficulties feel so minor in comparison to so many other people. But both others’ suffering and our own has taught me that all days really are bonus days- we could all go any time.

    You guys are all wonderful, thank you for being a part of our family!

  20. Jennifer Klaussen

    November 30, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Lani – you will never again be alone at Denny’s no matter what because you have captivated the hearts of so many of us I think a fist fight would break out to see who could be there for you the best, fastest, etc… I’d be leading the charge – but meanwhile, long live Benn & Lani! <3 to you BOTH!

  21. terrillific

    November 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    That’s a very touching story. You all have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

  22. Kristin Moran Esparza

    November 23, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    That was beautiful, Lani. Beautifully written & I loved every word. You know the true meaning of appreciating people in your life, what a ton of us can learn from. I speak for myself as well! Happy Thanksgiving to ya'll!

  23. James Shaw

    November 24, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Thank you for sharing your story Lani; beautiful! Forget business and work life.. It's all about your friends and family at the end of the day. Ive been lucky to find my soulmate and have gone through some tough times too, losing our Jake at 36 weeks. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  24. Missy Caulk

    November 24, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I love you Lani and Benn!

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