Hey there. Welcome to 6 Kisses.
My name is Joshua Hanlon, and my sister, Grace, and I created this blog specifically for you. Not because we know you. But because we have pasts of our own, and we know what it means to experience life's troubles.
Together, we have prayed long and hard about what we should do with our lives. Over time, our passion to help others became the only thing that really mattered. It is this passion that fuels the content of 6 Kisses. But before you can understand our mission, I want you to know where we’re coming from.
Our lives have not been easy, and it seems like we have been searching for answers to our hardships ever since the beginning.
Our loving parents, Mike and Penney Hanlon, began their life together when they were married on April 29, 1995. To their surprise, their first child came within their first year of marriage. A perfect, beautiful, stylish baby boy. (If you haven’t guessed it, that child was me, and I’ll admit to a bit of bias). They were quickly thrown into the world of parenting.
One year and one day later, my baby sister Jessica was born. However, her time here on earth was short lived, due to a tragic incident at our house. She passed away on December 9, 1997 after only 10½ months.
Growing up, I always struggled with her death. I can distinctly recall questioning why my sister wasn’t with me on a daily basis. Ever since I can remember, I have struggled to comprehend the meaning of life, emotionally striving to understand why our lives are so fragile and fleeting.
A year and a half later, my parents had my sister Grace. (I’ll try not to abuse the power I have in writing this section of the blog, but to just think of all the ways I could get back at her now… I’m getting sidetracked).
Following Grace, my parents had another daughter. This was my sister Gabrielle, born a year and two days after Grace. Gabby is the inspiration for this blog, but it isn’t enough to leave it at that. She was an inspiration to anyone who was lucky enough to meet her.
Before Gabby was a year old, she was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease. This disorder occurs when the mitochondria, the organelles that produce energy for the body, malfunction. The disease is extremely rare and chronic—since a cure is not yet available. While symptoms of poor growth, muscle weakness, and developmental delays can be managed through physical therapy, some cases of the disease can prove to be fatal.
My sister Gabby was one of those cases. The disease ended up causing her brain damage, and it left her movement severely hindered from the waist down. She lost all control of her senses and was fully dependent on my family for her survival. To make matters worse, doctors informed my parents that they didn’t expect Gabby to live any longer than another year.
I’m happy to say that my sister proved those doctors wrong. She lived for 15 years, 2 months, and 2 days, until she passed away the summer of 2015. She was a living miracle.
Grace and I will be the writers of 6 Kisses; posting a variety of topics, wisdom, stories, advice, and personal experiences. While we are relatively comfortable sharing our story now, and we recognize that the misfortune in our lives has been a blessing in disguise, it hasn’t always been this way. Growing up and knowing that your baby sister’s health could plummet at any moment affects you drastically. Pair that with stress management issues and anger at the world for taking away your other loved ones, and you have a recipe for disaster. No one is ever prepared for death, and the death of a loved one hits you the hardest.
Grace and I have struggled with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Battling against overwhelming emotions that threaten to swallow you every moment of every day is one of the scariest obstacles someone can encounter in life. I am thankful to say that we have never succumbed to the pain.
So there you have it. A brief look into some things Grace and I have experienced in our lives. It has all been a hard reality to come to terms with, and we continue to rebuild ourselves both spiritually and emotionally every day.
The name of our blog, 6 Kisses, is a memento for our sister Gabrielle. While she could not talk, she learned how to communicate through her kisses. It was one of the only things she could do. One kiss meant “yes.” Two meant “no.” And six kisses meant “I love you.” She came up with that one herself.
If you have read this far, then it’s likely you’re seeking guidance in some way. We all are chasing something in this life, be it happiness, success, freedom, or all of the above. This blog is not focused on where you’ve been, but on the life you have ahead.
Let me take a moment to say that you are special. You have meaning. You are loved. You are wanted. Your life is meant for something bigger than yourself. You have a purpose to live on through the trials of life. The book of Psalms tells us that we are each fearfully and wonderfully made, and you are no different.
Grace and I may have never met you. We may not know your story or have any idea what it feels like to have experienced the things you have been through, but I hope you can feel our love and support for you through this blog. Without love and support, the deck is stacked against you. Our mission is to change this reality, bring troubling trials out of the shadows, and offer a gentle hand to others. Everyone deserves to live a life worth living, and nobody deserves to walk through life alone.