No, January 29, 2019, was not the day we were all requested to shelter in place due to the COVID-19 virus and it was the not the day I had to make a decision as a small business owner whether to remain open or not amidst these turbulent times.

January 29, 2019, was the day my youngest special needs daughter suddenly and unexpectedly passed away in her sleep. My daughter's death 14 months ago was preceded by the deaths of my entire immediate family within a three year period. I feel so deeply for families being effected by this horrific virus. 

Even BEFORE the pandemic that is now before us, the past 14 months have been a blur and the cumulative grief and loss I have experienced has been devastating. When daily life can be challenging, making huge decisions such as this are anything but easy.

My dear friend and co-worker, Leslie, whom many of you know well, has carried this business along basically on her own with the support of our wonderful production plant in Dallas. 

On Monday we were notified that our production plant responsible for printing and shipping our orders would be closing indefinitely by order of the Dallas Mayor furloughing employees (after already cutting hours and positions) and making it impossible for us to stay afloat. I was prepared to close Cup of Arms after facing so many unexpected obstacles.

Six hours later, however, the plant was granted special permission to stay open and after several days of debate I have decided to try to weather this storm as long as possible in support of the team who has supported me. By remaining open we are helping the remaining employees of our production plant keep their jobs and support their families. 

We too are part of the hospitality industry that is suffering so badly right now and we are feeling the effects of this catastrophic time just like the rest of our industry and the rest of the world. Our products, for the most part, are ordered for the celebrations of life, for the "happy places" for which we choose to spend our time with those we love, for holidays shared with families and friends and for large corporate events, all of which have halted.

We may be able to just stay afloat for a few weeks, or maybe a few months. During these uncertain times we cannot be sure of anything.

As a small independent business it has already become harder and harder to compete against the Amazon giants and large commercial promotional companies with hundreds of dollars to spend on SEO and AdWords so we cannot say how long we will be able to survive. This is historically our busiest time of year which makes things even more difficult.

Many of you are customers turned friends and there are no words to express our gratitude for the continued support you have given us. We hope your celebrations and need for our products will continue when life resumes and that you may decide to go ahead and place your orders now in anticipation of life after this.

Any order we receive right now will not only help us remain in business, but will also help the employees of our plant keep their jobs. In light of the current economic uncertainty and loss of jobs across the nation please know that we do realize our products are not essential by any means.

In the midst of so many closures and shutdowns what will never cease is our ability as humans to share our love and kindness.

Therefore, what I can say to each of you at this moment is cherish this time together. Love the people you are with. Do everything in your power to regard the CDC recommendations to keep your family safe and healthy.

For those of you who may have already lost a family member during this pandemic please know my heart is with you and I feel your pain to the depth of my soul. 

I will live with the sadness of losing my happiest and most joyful child forever. As parents and siblings, the pain and heartbreak does not go away, you just learn to tolerate it and search desperately for the blessings that remain.

I would love to be homeschooling her right now, to be watching movies snuggled on the couch with her next to me slipping her precious dog (and best friend) treats under the blanket, to be going on a walk with her, to be touching her, hearing her, seeing her, holding her and cheering her on in her life. But I am not now, nor ever in the future, able to do those things with her again. I urge you to never take these seemingly simply things for granted. 

For those of you who still have this opportunity to lean on and love your people don't waste it.

Let your parents and children and siblings and families and friends know how much you love them especially during these difficult times. Squeeze them tightly and memorize everything you can about them etching them on your heart.

And be smart not jeopardizing anyone's health. 

Finally, I tell you all, just as I told my precious daughter when I told her how much I loved her and put her to bed on the last night of her life ,  "GOD BLESS YOU".

And may He indeed bless us all.