I watched my grandmother slowly disappear over the last six months and yet the moment of passing was so full of shock, I still feel as if I’m reeling. I’m still quite sure that if I drive up her quiet neighborhood street, she’ll be there in her garden. Tending to tomatoes, okra, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, maybe even carrots.

She was always tending.

Tending to me and to others, in a way that a substantial loss such as this leaves me feeling sick to my stomach, empty, and angry. I once wrote about her here not knowing how deeply my own words might comfort me one day. Because those words are true, and I miss every quirky and perfect thing about her.

As my husband and I drove to my grandparents’ house the evening of her passing, I told him how much I wanted to be like her when I grow up. The words spilled out in a soft and silly way, an attempt to bring a smile to my own dismayed face. She was faithful to the life God gave her. She loved her husband well and gave fully to her family, her grandchildren, her friends. And she could befriend just about anyone. I can’t count the number of times that I warned my friends, “My grandmother will hug you when she meets you.” She rode bumper cars and roller coasters with us every year at Dollywood. She helped me grow my first garden. She was my and my brothers’ own personal nurse, with the dining room as her exam room. She was always one of the first people in the stands at my basketball games or track meets, walked miles on end to support my brother in golf tournaments, and adamantly sat in the front row to hear my oldest brother speak at church. She sought simplicity by nature, never fooled by the bright lights of this world. She showed up when it mattered because it always mattered to her; I knew I could count on her.

But with so much sadness comes an abundance of gratitude for having this woman in my life who cared so deeply. She was full of life and love and joy. Her hugs were full of energy. How proud she was of all her grandchildren and me is humbling. Having known her gives me confidence. The world would be a stronger, more forgiving and encouraging place if we all had one like her who fully believed in us. My heart hurts this week but in the best of ways, for my grandmother was a good one.

A spunky, beautiful, loving good one.

The Emotional Ones

The Emotional Ones

Weddings feel like goodbyes. Let me say from the beginning that I do not disapprove of weddings, for I am secretly one of the Emotional Ones, the ones who will feel all the feels, both joy and sorrow, while hiding my teary eyes with sunglasses and a smile. Though my natural pull may be more inclined to notice the sorrowful, weddings are certainly some of the most joy-filled days in our lives, and my heart is so grateful for what the covenant of marriage means. The sacrifice of self and the promise of overflowing love point us to the beautiful and bigger love of Jesus. And I will say it a million times over: that marriage, though challenging and soul-struggling at times, gives me a small glimpse into that beautiful and bigger love, that hope for eternity. My heart is full of gratitude for the opportunity to watch my brother take that leap of faith over the weekend. But even with so much goodness, weddings still feel like saying goodbye. Goodbye to yesterday, to the person you were. Goodbye to roommates and twin beds, to a family of five, four, three, or two; so long to simplicity of holiday scheduling. To an identity you’ve clung to or maybe despised. Maybe it’s goodbye to dreams that dissolved into greater desires. To putting your own self first. To the luxury of disregarding your own messes. It’s goodbye to two people who will surely come back different and changed, beneath the surface, in ways even they cannot be sure of just yet. Some goodbyes can be so enriching, so life changing, so good deep down. Weddings feel like goodbyes because the event marks another milestone, acts as a reminder of this trip of a lifetime continuing to carry us forward at what feels like light speed, into unknowns and new identities.

. . . . .

His bride was walking down the aisle, and he couldn’t take his eyes off her. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I watched as he and our other brother stood at the altar, both with teary eyes, reminding me that being one of the Emotional Ones is more than okay, too worthy to say goodbye to.