Dear Mom

I realize that I just wrote but I am alone and tonight marks the one month anniversary of your passing. I hate saying death. It sounds so final. Passing feels better to my heart. People use the word passing in positive ways all the time. "I passed my classes," or "I am going to pass that car." In Joshua's case it would be, "I passed gas." Sorry. I couldn't resist.
It's easier for me to accept the idea that you have passed and advanced to a higher level of existence where you experience greater happiness and peace than you did here. Because in my heart and mind you didn't die. No one really dies, if you think about it, they just exist in a different state. Life is eternal and you will always be even if you aren't here with me.
I have been sitting on my living room floor thinking about the things I was doing exactly one month ago tonight. It seems like an eternity since that night and yet it was only thirty days ago. If only, I could rewind one month. If only, we had spoken that night. If only, if only, if only... I could go crazy thinking "if only."
My heart breaks thinking that the last time I saw you was at Joshie's wedding, when we took the above photo, together. Initially I wasn't sure if I liked this picture. I always said our lipstick was too bright but now I love it. I love it because we both look so happy and that was after we had a crappy day rear-ending the Krispy Kreme delivery truck. That driver was such a moron. Men.
My plan is to have a larger version framed so I can hang it in my home. Sister Boxer said after her mother died she put her photos around her home because it was comforting. It made it seem that her mother was still a part of her life. I think I will do the same. I look at your photos everyday but they aren't framed.
I also decided, and have since discussed it with Lauren and Harry, that we are taking a family photo in the cowboy shirts you got us for Christmas. Since you passed Dad has been wearing his frequently. He even had it up at Grandma's. I am afraid he is going to wear it so often it won't look as nice for the photo. Lauren may wear your cowgirl shirt, that matched mine, because she loves it so much. I love mine too. I can't wait to visit Steph in Montana so I can wear it like a real cowgirl. If only I was skinny enough to pour myself into a pair of Wranglers. That would be so hot! Then I could date a cowboy or a smoke jumper. Not really.
You always accused me of being boy crazy but for the past month I have been anything but. It's pretty pathetic actually. For instance, the other night, Rhonda, Larry and I were at an Italian restaurant having dinner. All of the wait staff were male; dark hair, olive-skinned men. I didn't really notice any of them until Rhonda started teasing me about this young waiter who kept looking at me. She did and said the same things I used to say to you and I responded exactly like you used to.
Anyway, as we were leaving I noticed this kid was looking at me so intently it made me blush. You know the phrase, "he was undressing me with his eyes." Well, that is exactly what this kid was doing. It was so intense that I couldn't even look at him, which is unusual for me. Usually I welcome looks like that from handsome men. Not now, though. Now I don't really care about anything.
It didn't stop with the look though. He even followed us out to the car. Rhonda waved at him while I hid in the back seat. You would love Rhonda, Mom. She has totally taken care of me since all this happened. She was with me when I got Dad's call. I tell her all the time that she reminds me of Stephanie. They are both so caring and so giving. Rhonda loves helping other people just like Stephanie and like Stephanie, people naturally gravitate toward her.
They say death comes in three's. We have already experienced three deaths in three weeks but I don't think its over, Mom. Dad called today and said Grandma had to be rushed to the hospital twice, two days in a row, for anxiety attacks. I know its selfish but I don't want Grandma to go yet. I am so tired of people dying. I just want her to stay with us a little longer, if possible.
Speaking of three's. I have pulled three solid white hairs from my head since the beginning of February. Last year I only pulled seven for the entire year. It's only February and I have already pulled three! That's insane! I have always said I wanted white hair but not at twenty-nine! I suppose it really doesn't matter though. So many things I cared about before seem trivial now. All I want to do is keep it real and I want to be around people who do the same.
I love you Mom! I am so sorry I didn't reach you this time last month. I tried. I called but you weren't there. If only...if only
Your Sissy Forever

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Dear Mom

As you probably know, last Thursday I flew to Charleston, West Virginia for Uncle Gary's funeral. It's strange to think I flew to Kentucky on a Thursday for your funeral as well. Both funeral services were on the Saturdays following your passing. Your caskets were even similar. Gary's was a little darker than yours but the scrolling and other details were the same. Recognizing this resurrected the memories I have of standing near your casket, sobbing as I tried to comprehend what your death really meant. I am not sure I will ever understand. I just know its the worst experience I have ever endured in my life.
Although the past three weeks have been very painful, they have also been filled with so much love. I feel as though my heart, though broken, has increased in its capacity to love. Every moment I spent with family last weekend I cherished. I held people longer than I usually do, thinking each time I embraced them, "What if this is the last time I will ever hold them?"
One of the highlights was seeing most of Grandma's great-grandchildren. Allison was there. Mom, if I ever have a little girl I hope she behaves like Allison. Although she's only 2 she is the sweetest little angel and I adore her. Ginger dresses her in cutest clothing, making hair bows to match each outfit. I am so glad you were able to play with her last August when she was in town for Joshie's wedding.

Regina and her family drove in from Virginia. I finally met her son, Jacob and her daughter Lakin. Regina is as pretty as ever. It was so good to see her again. Rema and her sister even came to the funeral. She still looks the same. Funny how some people never change.
This photo was taken of me and Daddy at Clear Fork Baptist Church after Gary's funeral. Irwin, Grandma's preacher, hosted a dinner at the church for everyone who attended the funeral. There were so many people. It's nice to know Gary was loved by so many. I wish you could have been with us. You would have loved the fried chicken and homemade pies.
Although I look tired I like this photo of Daddy and I. I want to take as many photos of him as I can. We don't have a lot and I don't ever want to forget him and the memories we made together. He made me stand in front of him to hide his belly. I always tell him I love him just the way his is. I know you would have something snide to say in response but I think his belly makes him look more like a Grandpa. I'm only sorry he isn't one yet.
Matt and his kids were also there. I couldn't resist taking photos of his youngest Brayden. Like his older sister, Brayden has the cutest blond hair and the bluest eyes. He is also very particular about the company he keeps preferring his mother or Grandma Anna only. It's nice seeing Anna as a Grandma. She's so good with the kids and they adore her. She reminds me so much of you in some ways.
One night she fell asleep on the couch and looking at her I saw you. I just wanted to snuggle up next to her and pretend for a moment she was you. Instead I crawled in bed with Grandma and slept with her.
So many people from the community attended the funeral. People who have been friends of our family for years. During the wake, Dad introduced Lauren and I to Carl Cook. Mom, this guy was amazing. The stories he told us about Dad and Grandpa were insane. Lauren and I were laughing the entire time. Of course, Josh wasn't around so we forced Carl to sit with us at dinner the next day.
He told us about his first wife who came after him with a shot gun when he tried to leave her, about his mother-in-law who attended a snake handling church, how he went hunting with Grandpa Kidd and Dad. It was really cool. I learned things about Grandpa Kidd that I never knew. He even worked with him at Copperston mine. The Cook's own everything in Oceana from the barber shop to the DMV. The main street running through town was renamed Cook Parkway because there are so many of them. I can honestly say, though, all the Cooks I met were really nice. One Cook, the barber, wouldn't accept Dad's money when he discovered he was in town for Gary's funeral. Touching.
On the way to the funeral, Lauren spotted this sign. Josh and I were so dumbfounded we stopped on our way out of town to take a picture.
Am I missing something? Is this just a play on words? Somehow I don't think it is. I honestly believe someone living in West Virginia believes the correct spelling of "congratulation" is actually "congradadulation." It's beyond me.
It still amazes me that Dad ever got out. I am so glad he did and that he met you. I'm also glad you married him so Josh and I could be apart of such a loving, hard-working family. I marvel at the love they have for one another and am so grateful they extend that love to me.
I am not sure how things work where you are but if you are with Gary please give him a hug for me. Although he attended your funeral I didn't spend much time with him. I feel so bad about that now. I just didn't know it would be the last time I would see him.
One of the last things he did was hug me and say, "You are so beautiful. You know that girl?" I was so anxious to be near you, that I hugged him quickly, muttered, "Thanks, but I don't feel beautiful. I have to go inside now," and then walked away. If I had only known, I would have paused and spoken to him a little longer. I just wanted to be near you. I just wanted to be with Dad and Josh and I wasn't thinking clearly.
Tonya described it as walking through fog. It's true and although the fog is lifting it continues to linger. I am still having a difficult time concentrating and making decisions is a challenge, especially decisions that require commitment of any type. All I can hope is that God will lead me to where I need to be, providing a way for me to perform whatever work I need to do. I wonder if you will help me. I hope so. I long to feel you near.
I love you Mom. I wanted to call you so badly to tell you all about last weekend. Since you are gone this letter will have to do.
I love you Mom & miss you terribly
-Your Sissy








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Dear Mom

Although I've already told you about the friends and family that traveled from near and far to pay their last respects, knowing you, I knew you wouldn't believe me unless I proved it to you. The most effective way for me to do this, I believe is through photos.
After your funeral service, which was private, everyone was invited to the Richmond Ward to eat dinner. Kristy arranged for the Relief Society to make and serve dinner. I am not sure who made the fried chicken but it was scrumptious. Joe Alexander made these cookies that Lauren loved. I can't imagine Joe cooking anything but it makes me smile just thinking about it.
Lauren wore the turquoise earrings you bought her for Christmas last year. You can see them in this photo of her and Joshie.
Mark wanted us to take photos before he left so we gathered in the Primary room beneath the words, "I am a Child of God." I thought this was very appropriate since we played that song at your funeral.
This is one of the photos we took together; The Kidds and the Elliotts. I can't believe how tall Mark is. Danny kept asking me about my blog. I gave him the name and address. I am not sure if he is reading but I hope so. He was wearing an Elliott tartan tie and seemed impressed that I recognized it as such.
Dad wore the Save the Children tie you bought for Joshie because he knows how much you like it. I wore the same suit I wore to Alisha's funeral. It's strange because it's also the suit I was wearing the day I heard about your passing.

Here's a photo of your two Sissy-Gals. Kelly has terrific hair and it looked perfect all weekend. I look like a wreck, of course, but hell, who cares? I actually can't believe I looked that put together considering the circumstances. Don't worry I have looked and felt like a mess every day since.
Bishop Christensen's wife took a photo of all of us girls on the bed but I don't have it yet. I will post that later so you can see it. Steph and Kelly look terrific. I look like someone punched me in the face; Rae looks tired and Kate looks like our spiritual leader.
Joshie and I were a little worried about ZuZu and Mary. I think they could sense something was wrong. I also don't think they enjoyed Dad's full house. Zu hid in Dad's closet. When I discovered her hiding place, I grabbed my camera. Just as I was set to take this photo she took her paw and pulled Dad's shirt sleeve closer to her face, as if she was saying, "go away and let me hide from the world." I knew exactly how she felt.
In addition to all the people who attended your service, you received some lovely flowers. These were sent by some of Dad's friends. You always claimed Dad never had friends but you were wrong. He has a lot of friends and they sincerely care about him. They knew how much your passing would affect him and they sent flowers to acknowledge that.

These are the arrangements we left with you.The large arrangement of bright pink roses are from folks at FEMA. Lauren and I picked out the wreath above it while Marketing sent the pink and white arrangement to the right of the wreath.
Flavous, June, Doris and Charles all sent flowers while Dad's family gave Joshie and I matted and framed photos of you. They were really nice and I am so grateful they were able to attend.
Before tonight I wasn't able to write about your funeral. Although I have bought "Thank You" cards I still haven't been able to write and mail them. I am just having a difficult time accepting that you are gone and nothing can bring you back to me.
Within the past three weeks I have lost you and now Dad's family is mourning Uncle Gary's sudden passing. I can't help but wonder if you already know about Gary and were waiting on him when he arrived. Either way, I hope you are both at peace and that you realize how much those you left behind miss you.
Good night Mom. I love you!
Sissy




















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Dear Mom

Last weekend I scanned this photo and was struck once again by the look on your face. You will probably recognize it immediately. It was taken at your Mother's funeral. You were twenty-seven or twenty-eight but you look so much younger. Although you were taller than most women you look so small beside Danny. I'll never forget how you reacted when you found out your Mother was gone. You were on the phone in your bedroom crying. Seeing you cry made Joshie and I cry too. Even as you grieved you comforted us and told us you were alright but you weren't alright. When someone you love dies, it feels like a part of you dies with them. A part impossible to resurrect. I know a part of you died along with your Mother. I know, because a part of me died with you.
Looking at you in this photo is like looking in a mirror. My face has adopted the same drawn, tired expression that results from the interal feelings you experience.
Often I feel as though my soul was sucked, without warning, into a dark vacuum. Instead of being an open space void of any matter, this vacuum is populated by a forest of thorns. Remember the scene in Sleeping Beauty where Prince Phillip is trying to cut his way through a forest of thorn bushes to the castle? That's the best imagery I can think of. Although it's possible to emerge from the vacuum, one must carefully manuever through the thorn bushes. This is a tedious process that requires great care. One must be on their guard at all times to prevent additional hurt and pain. One never knows how long the journey will take because starting at the beginning its impossible to see the end. I am not sure if my analogy makes sense but that's exactly how I feel and I think you probably felt it too. I am only sorry I was not able to offer you the comfort you needed then. The comfort that my friends have offered me.
I think the reason I am sharing these thoughts with you today is due to an experience I had this morning at work. A man approached the desk and smiling said something like, "Amber, it's good to have you back." Assuming he knew the reason for my absence I thanked him. Then, to my shock, he asked, "How is your mother doing?" Instead of asking me a simple question, it seemed like he had delivered a swift kick to my stomach. I just looked at him dumbfounded until I quietly replied, "My mother passed away. That is why I was gone for so long." He apologized and then went on and on about how we were best friends and yada-yada. All I could say was, "I don't want to talk about it." I know he wasn't to blame but, in that moment, it was all I could do to contain myself. Since your passing I have experienced these random flashes of intense anger and frustration. Everyone says, thank goodness, this is normal but I still feel guilty anyway.
When others stole moments to offer their condolences throughout the day I couldn't fight the tears. I don't even know why I try. It's useless. I don't want to be angry Mom. I just want to feel peace. Please help me not to be angry or bitter about loosing you.
After work Joshie called to say they were going to Rupp Arena tonight to watch UK play Georgia. I'd like to think you would be cheering for Georgia, especially to annoy Dad.

Speaking of Dad, his poem arrived today. To end on a positive note I will include it below. I noticed when I received it he had not titled it. We discussed a possible title and I think we agreed to call it...
A Mother's Legacy

These words are dedicated to a woman
who was a major part of my life
For ten short years she was
my love, my partner, my wife
Our differences were many
Our common interests few
But something brought us together and
created a bond that time could not undo
That bond was in the form
of a gift from heaven above
We were entrusted with two spirits
To nurture, teach, guide and love
Though these differences eroded
our love for each other
You never forgot the importance
of your stewardship as a mother
You tried to do the things
that all good mothers do
And that's what I respected most
of all things about you
I thank you from the bottom of my heart
For all the things you have done
Because you tried to be a good mother
To our daughter and son
God knew your troubles were many
and your demons were strong
He promised he would never leave us and
during your final night on earth, he was along
Sleep, sleep God's worried child
Death tries to say to you
But with the end to this life's suffering
God has new plans for you
Life is but an unknown number of seasons
They vary for each of us, we know not why
But one thing that is for certain
We're born, we live and we must die
Birth is a time of celebration
Life is a time of many trials and tests
Death's sting is oh so brief
Before eternal peace and rest
Life is not measured by our wealth and gain
When Heavenly Father says we must go
It's the things we have done for others
That testifies of our works here below
Janice, you have sewn good seeds
as we in this world do know
Those seeds have produced good fruit
Because of this work your garden will continue to grow
God loves all his children big and small
Now that you are there with Him
Please keep a watchful eye on us all
When we stumble on our journey
Please whisper in our ear
Remind us to hold fast
For we know eternity is near
Good night Mom. I love you!
--Your Sissy-gal

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Dear Mom...

I am not sure where to begin. I guess the first thing I want to say is I love you. I hope you know that. I love you and miss you. Since you passed away nothing has been the same. I have experienced sadness and pain unlike anything I ever imagined. During the past year I have read several books about loss and grief and I thought I understood but I was wrong. My soul feels like it has been rent, pulled apart to be strewn about; vulnerable to the entire world. Shawna describes it as being hit by a bus. Although you are lying face down on the pavement and in need of help, everyone around you passes and acts as though nothing has happened. In other words, although my life has stopped the rest of the world continues, taking little notice, if any, of what happened. Sometimes this realization deepens the sorrow I feel because there are so many who should have known you but didn't. The fact that I did, and that you were my Mother, causes me to wonder. Were you perfect? No. Did you struggle? Yes. You were human but you were also one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen.

I have been scanning every picture we have of you since the funeral and as I look at your photos I can't help but wonder at your beauty. You had perfect features. A perfect nose, perfect teeth, perfect hair and eyes. I wish I resembled you more. During lunch at Bananas, Lauren said, "You are such a bitch. You are just like your Mom. You have perfect hair." I love her. She has been so good for Josh and your passing has only strengthened their marriage because Lauren knows exactly what Josh is experiencing. She can anticipate his needs in ways other women would not be capable of. She also spoke at your funeral. She talked about how much you loved Patricia Cornwell and how much we would miss playing games with you; especially Balderdash.

Joshie also spoke. Mom, you would have been so proud. He was terrific. He shared the story about the He-Man cake you bought him for his birthday. I had forgotten all about it but he remembered.

Joshie also selected the music for your viewing and funeral service. You should see the playlist. Not your typical music but music we believe you would enjoy. I added some of your favorites, "Fly Me to the Moon," "Spirit in the Sky," and "Moon River" before he completed the list.I forgot "Walk On," though. Sorry. I hope, somehow, you were able to hear it too. I know you would have liked that.

After Patriarch Marchant spoke about the Plan of Salvation, we asked him to conduct, Dad spoke. He was so good. I think you would have been impressed. I wasn't sure how Dad would take it but he's taking it pretty hard. He loved you much more, I believe, than any of us ever realized. He finished the poem he promised to write you. It's five pages long. He's mailing it to me. I will post it later, with his permission, of course.

Although I flew home on Thursday and had two days to prepare something, I couldn't prepare anything. I just couldn't put anything down on paper. I selected photos for your slideshow, I picked out flower arrangements, I dressed you and did your makeup and hair. Well... actually Stephanie and Kristi initially dressed you and then I helped a bit later. I think you would have loved your outfit. We got your a Pendleton skirt in the Stewart tartan, white hose, and an off-white caul-neck sweater. I decided to leave your CTR ring on your finger. I already have a matching one so it doesn't matter. Ralph said I might want it for my little girl but I told him I didn't have one and there were many other things I could pass on, should I have children one day. It's your ring and you should keep it, especially if you were wearing it when you passed.

Kelly helped me do your makeup and hair. She flew in from Utah at a moment's notice, along with Desiree. I couldn't believe Stephanie, Kelly and Desiree were able to come. It was so nice having all my close friends near me. Kate and Rae drove down from Virginia and all five of us girls, Steph, Rae, Kate, Kelly and I stayed at the Bishop's house. I used your favorite Cameo Shrimp for your lips and I curled your hair in loose ringlets. It looked really good. Stephanie painted your fingernails bright pink, the same color we'd use for our toes in the summertime.

Although I had a difficult time focusing on things I did manage to speak during the service. I read the Primary hymn, "Mother, I Love You," and shared the story about the Stripling Warriors. I spoke about your testimony and how you did not doubt. I am so grateful for all the time we spent together; long discussions on our evening walks which continued on the porch swing where we sat in our nightgowns watching the cars pass and the fireflies flash. The frogs would croak in the nearby pond while inside we could hear Joshie playing music or video games. We talked about everything. Sometimes the conversations were casual, sometimes they ended in anger or tears. However, in retrospect I am so thankful for your patience and devotion. The attention you paid me even when you were tired or had better things to do. I will miss those long, summer evenings and our conversations. I will miss you.

I will also miss coming home and having you still tuck me in. I loved that. I loved how you would sit on the edge of my bed and we would talk briefly before you would walk across the hall to your room, leaving my door cracked just a bit. I miss screaming your name, "MOM," down the hall while you were tucking Joshie just to annoy you. I also loved how you would find the cat and bring her into my room so she would sleep with me. It scares me to think about my future children. If they are anything like I was I am not sure I can make it but one thing is for sure. Since you passed my desires to be a wife and mother have become absolute. I want a family more than anything. I want to share all the positive things I learned from you with my children. I want them to know how wonderful their Grandma Kidd was. I want them to know the best things about you and to live good lives because you tried to teach Joshie and I to do so. I am not sure if or when I will have a family but Linda says when Allison was born she saw Roger in her granddaughter. I hope I feel the same way. I hope there will be traces of you in my children and if so, I can't wait to meet them. I believe that will bring me more comfort than I can imagine now.

Today Jacqueline said something I found interesting and Shawna mentioned the same thing. They both said that you will be able to help me. That you will lead me to my future husband. That you will prepare my children. I sincerely hope so but please, please be generous with the husband. You always teased that I would marry the biggest dork ever. You may be right but please lead me to a dork I am attracted to and can live with. Someone who will be devoted, honest and loving. As for preparing my children...please don't give away all your secrets.

I find it ironic that you always remarked I was fortunate because I would have a mother who could be there on my wedding day and help me with babies. You were wrong, Mom. I won't have that but I have been blessed with women in my life who have offered their help when I need it. In a way, they will be my surrogate mothers to help in ways you won't be capable of but I hope and trust you will be near and will help when possible. I can't wait until the day I feel you near me. People say it takes time and I understand that. I know now that I have to trust you are with Heavenly Father and you are safe. The first time I was alone after the funeral for more than ten minutes I offered a prayer asking God to take care of you. A distinct thought came into my mind at that time. Kristi told me I had to write it down so I could remember it later. The thought was, "She was my daughter long before she was your mother." Of course, my tears fell even harder. It was something I already knew but my pain is still so raw I have a hard time fighting the tears.

In the meantime I have been listening to a lot of Anne Murray. I heard "Band of Gold" on Saturday and started car dancing like we used to do whenever we would hear it on the radio. I was brave until half-way through and then I broke down. I couldn't help myself. I miss you and I hate that I will never belt the lyrics with you again. I hope you can feel that.

I am not sure how often I will write but I have so much to tell you. Linda says she writes Roger first thing every morning. I am not sure I can do that but I will do my best to write often. I love you Mom. I love you, I love you, I do and I can't wait to see you again. To have your arms thrown around me and listen to you squeal with excitement while you sway me back and forth. I can't wait for you to call me Sissy again. I long to understand so many things about you and how you died. Dad says there are some things we may never know. I think he may be right. And it really doesn't matter. Like Sister Orton says the only thing that matters is living a righteous life so we can be with our families forever. So I am going to do my best. I'm not perfect and I will stumble along the way, but I will be better than I was before. I must. The promise of seeing you again, whole and complete is reward enough.

Goodnight Mom. It's past my bedtime but I love you and will write again soon. If you are able please be near me and Joshie and Dad. We need you.

Love-
Sissy

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When will girls learn?

I was watching Brothers & Sisters tonight. For those of you who haven't seen that show, I find it hilarious. There was, of course, an affair between two of the characters (not related, it should be noted, after all this isn't HBO). The girl involved was single and, as she was leaving her job and the man in question behind, the older female character offered the advice, "Use this chance to find something all your own."

I thought it was sound advice. When it comes to men, we need to take the time to define our own relationships with them, make sure that there is a space for us and that the shape of the space fits the shape of our souls.

Trying to fit into a mold will never work. And sometimes we explore the shape of the hole and find that we'd mostly fit, that it's just about right. But, like Goldilocks, we need to move down the line until it's just right.

And that's all I have to say about that.

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The heart of the matter

This weekend I was reminded of the wonderful power of family connections. As I'm sure most of you know by now, Amber's Mom passed away. She may write a post on that later, she may not. I spent, as did Rae, Kate and Kelly, the weekend with her in Kentucky. While it was not the best reason for a trip, it was the perfect time for one. I needed my friends and, for that moment, they needed me.

Sunday morning brought a trip to Dad's house for breakfast. Loving chatter, biscuits, gravy, bacon and laughter--the best menu one can have in a situation like that. I sat in the rocker beside the kitchen for a bit when we got there just listening. Never have I been to a family event like this where I don't end up loving the family I'm with and appreciating my own. Amber has talked to me about her family for ages, done impressions of their accents (which are spot on!) and told me stories relating some of their quirks. It was amazing to see those in action!

Later in the day we had a quiet church meeting with just us girls. I haven't ever been to a better sacrament. When we were there Kate said (and sorry if I misquote you!), "It's always surprising to me that so much love can come from death."

When I looked around the room at the strong, beautiful women who I'm lucky to call friends, then later at the amazing children Janice has left as a legacy talking to and comforting each other, at the family and church members who opened their homes and ovens and even to a random salesperson at a jewelry counter I'm simply amazed at the love in the world. So often our challenges in life involve feeling isolate or unimportant. Frequently we fall into the trap of thinking our life has one meaning. We're just wrong.

Despite what you may be able to see now, you're an important thread in the web of life. People would notice if you were gone, they would mourn.

Amber and I slept in the same bed all weekend. We talked and cried and laughed wondering all the while about the big picture, why this happened, what it really all means. I wish I had more answers. The objective, even with it's harsh edges, can be key to understanding any experience and in this case the objective is hard to find outside the final truth of death. Like the love that Kate mentioned, there's eternal life as well. Not only just for Janice's soul but here on Earth. I look at her daughters and son thinking of all the beautiful lessons she taught them, how her devoted hands formed their lives and I know she'll never be really gone. It's appropriate that her legacy will be passed through the spoken stories of her children to their children and onward. As long as we remember them and hold them near I don't think we ever really "lose" one we love. Just the ability to hug them as readily.

Luckily, we have friends. And as I remembered this weekend, when you have friends there is never a shortage of proxy hugs available.

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