The End and The Beginning. My Grandmother Part 5

*Written and shared at my grandmother’s memorial service

September 21, 2008

Cozy “Memaw” Morrow 10/5/17-0/17/08

When I was a little girl  we lived in a small house with my grandmother. I can remember times of waking up in the middle of the night. It was dark, quiet and very still. Not unlike most young children, I was afraid.

Memaw’s room was at the other end of the house from the rest of us. It was a long walk in the dark for a 4/5-year-old. It required walking down the hall and through the kitchen where there was a furnace in the floor with a grate over the top of it. Down under the house were all of my childhood fears. I knew with certainty that this hole in the floor was their entrance into our house.

But if I could cross over that abyss, her room was right around the corner. I remember lying there in my bed calculating the cost of making the journey. Was the end result worth the means  it would cost me to get there? The answer was yes. Because on the other end, was my Memaw.

It was her in her soft cotton nightgown that smelled of lavender. It was her with a  full, squishy grandmotherly embrace.  In her room, the morning always came. Where I was going was worth the scary, dark  journey to get me there.

I have always had my grandmother. She was a constant presence in my life and more accurately described as a parent to me, but with the knowledge of having her came also an early realization that she could be lost. I knew she could and would one day die and leave me alone. Unable to process such thoughts, I would dismiss them.  In that deep fear, I sadly made her larger than life.

This notion was easy to oblige simply based on the sheer determination of her will, the gentleness of her spirit, but mostly due to the well of faith in which she drank. Who was the woman whose life we are celebrating today?

From the perspective of the one she referred to as the ‘little one,’ she was a wife of one, a mother of three, a grandmother of five, a great-grandmother of eight, a friend to many, and a Memaw to hundreds.

She was my roommate from the time I was 11yrs old till I went away to college where she and I would argue constantly over the use of the telephone. Her having more and longer conversations than me as a teenage girl.

She was a basketball buddy.  She would tirelessly rebound shots for me out in the driveway, coach me on free throws, and she could stay up believing in the victory of the Boston Celtics or the Carolina Tarheels long after I had lost hope and had gone to bed.

Memaw was my math tutor, easily doing my high school math equations that I was at a loss to begin. She even understood SAT math which to this day is something I cannot comprehend.

She was a shrewd and diligent grocery shopper. She was able to stay under budget as church hostess for years by scouting out prices all over the area, yet she managed to feed everyone to their fill for Wednesday night suppers and for the school and day care five days a week.

Even when she was relegated to riding around in a motorized cart due to aging, my oldest daughter commented that Memaw could still beat her and my mother to the check-out counter on their weekly trips to Harris Teeter.

She was a chauffeur, a cheerleader, a cook, a counselor, a nurse, and an encourager to all of those who were fortunate to have her in their corner. But as my uncle and I were discussing the night she died, there were so many people who loved her and in which she gave of herself.

There were many in this church whether adults or children who received from her, yet there was, miraculously always enough to go around.  I remember early on hearing children my age calling her ‘Memaw’ and wanting to fight every one of them to prove the point that she was in fact MY Memaw and not theirs.

Shortly after feeling an immediate surge of jealousy and possessiveness, it would fade and then did fade forever because after about six or seven years old, I never doubted her affection for me and just how much I meant to her.  No matter how many lives she taught and touched in Sunday school, no matter how many long drawn out adult conversations she had sitting at those tables in the gymnasium- and they did go on forever-, no matter how many children insisted everyday of running up to her during lunch to give ‘their’  Memaw a big hug, it did not take away from how much she loved and devoted herself  to her family. Even two weeks ago, I told her that I loved her. She responded, “I love you too, Carrie. I love you all.”

On a deeper, more personal note, she was an orphan. She was a little girl in an orphanage who often times went to sleep with the pains of hunger. This is something that I want to emphasize about my grandmother. Is it any wonder at the economy of God who would take those moments of loss and use it to fuel a desire for that little girl to turn into a woman who committed her life to feeding us whether in body or in spirit?

She lived a painful reality in those early years and God used that redemptively in her life, allowing her to experience fullness to her emptiness as she fed on Jesus and then served Him to others. Besides her love and fierce commitment to individuals, this is what defined her life.  So whether it was a pound of spaghetti and a yeast roll lathered in butter, or a chicken patty sandwich or a word of encouragement, or a quiet prayer on your behalf, you would never leave her presence empty-handed.

She was also tenaciously tough.  As a testimony to her spirit that was imprinted deep in my heart and mind a few months before she died, I had a dream of being in her nursing home room. I crawled in the bed with her; it was dark and quiet with a pale soft light. As I layed there she began waving her hands as if she was swatting away a bunch of flies.

I looked up and there were angels coming down to take her up. And I whispered, “Memaw, those are angels.” And she said with all reverence, “I don’t care who it is, I am not ready to go anywhere, yet.” When I woke up after I had called mom and confirmed that she was still here, I just had to laugh.

And this is what made my last few weeks with her so heartbreaking, beautiful, and life changing for me. Like I shared in the beginning, she was larger than life to me, and I honestly had convinced myself that she would live forever. I was still much a child in this notion. But there was no denying or overlooking that fact that she was becoming weaker and was unable to get better.

Two weeks before she died, I went into the nursing home to say good night. She had just come under hospice care. I was astounded at the change in just three days. I broke down and began weeping at her bedside, because I could see that she was leaving us. I felt an overwhelming urge to yell out and beg her to make me ok with it. To get her, as always, to make me feel secure with her strength.

But the Lord impressed upon my heart that night to give her a gift. My last gift to her which was to allow her to be human. To allow her to be weak, unsure, and weary. So, when I sat with her the next day, I told her how much I loved her, how thankful I was to be her granddaughter, and in spite of my own heartbreak that it was all right be weary.

I was able to return her 34 years of selfless acts to me with just letting her know that I would miss her so deeply but that it was ok.  And so, my life had truly come full circle from when I was a little girl.

Only she was the one having to make a journey into the darkness, wondering if what awaited her would be worth all the fear of taking the first few steps.

But she was not alone. She had her faithful children. Her son who would hit HWY 40 and head east when she needed him to bring a warmth that only a son can give to his mother and maybe even a broiled fish plate from Captain Steve’s or fried vegetables from Gus’.

She had her daughter, a constant companion over the years who would bring her coffee in the morning loaded down with her favorite International delight French Vanilla creamer and would also bring her home on the weekends so that she could still make banana pudding and wash dishes.

There were the five grandchildren who never lost sight of her impact in their lives.

The wonderful staff at White Oak Manner in whom she had crept in a captivated their hearts in her three years there with her outlandish spunk and humor, particularly her day time aide, Gertrude who would often come in on her days off toward the end to try to help her eat a bit.

The nighttime nurse Ilene, who would come in with medications, run her hands through Memaw’s thick beautiful hair and take all kinds of jeering from her on how nasty those concoctions were that she made Memaw drink for stronger health.

She had her pastor who visited her often, sometimes with a chocolate milkshake from Zack’s that she relished. And finally, but not exhaustively there was her loving extended family and her devoted church family paying visits to bring fellowship and music to her, because she was no longer able to get to them.

And so, I am very proud of her because she did it. She made the long walk through the valley of the shadow of death. She is now with her husband who died when I was a new-born. She is there with friends and siblings who went before her.

But mostly she is in the presence of her savior who undoubtedly said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful server.” She is in a place where the night never comes. And I truly believe she is happy, because she told me so the day before she died after about three hours of silence.  I know that she is either swimming, diving, fishing, or playing basketball. Or maybe even serving up some baked chicken, ham biscuits, and chocolate pie.

But what I do know for certain, is that she is no longer here, and I will look forward to the day when I see her again, not simply as her “little one” but also as a sister.

Puppies in Heaven: My Grandmother, part 4.

On September 16, 2008, I was asked to sit with my grandmother for the day. My mother, who had rarely left her side, needed to finish up some things at work, and my uncle was en route  from Albuquerque, New Mexico to be with his mother in her last days.

I got to the nursing home a little after lunch time. She was asleep and wouldn’t respond to me. I held her hand and said her name, but her sleep was too deep to hear my words or feel my touch. I sat down in the chair beside her bed and read my book. She was so quiet.

After about two hours of silence, I became very afraid…like a child in the dark. I didn’t know what to do. I began praying Psalm 23 over and over again to myself. Then, I took out my Bible to read the Psalm, filling in the parts that escaped me. I needed to hear words from someone. I needed to be comforted, because I felt so alone with the one person who was always near.

All of a sudden my phone registered a text. It was from a sweet friend who knew that I was with my grandmother for the day. She asked, “Are you alright?”

I responded, “I am just praying Psalm 23 until I believe it’s true.”  She told me that she and her husband were praying for me, and that I was not alone.

I took my Bible out again as the tears ran down my face. I felt so little again, trying to get to her when I was afraid.

And then it happened. It spoke to me. It spoke to me in ways that my grandmother could not.

I got a highlighter out of my purse and began marking the words.


Psalm 37 “The one thing I ask of the Lord– the thing I seek most is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.  For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me.

At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music.

Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me. My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds……”Lord, I am coming.”***

The words poured over me, and I felt better. I was more at rest. So much so, that I picked up my book and began to read.

Another 30 minutes passed. All of a sudden, my grandmother cried out….”Oh, I’m SO Happy!!!”

It startled me. I jumped and turned around not knowing what just happened. She had been silent, save her breathing for four solid hours. Then, with her eyes still closed she said it again.

“Oh, I’m SO Happy!!!” I went over to her and called her name. “Memaw,” I said, “Can you hear me?”

She didn’t respond. Then she said, “Oh, I’m SO happy!!”

I said, “Memaw, Are you So happy?”

She said, “Yes Ma’am.”

I called my mother and put my grandmother on speaker phone.  My mom left work immediately.

I went and sat by my grandmother’s side and held her hand. Then prayed, Psalm 23 out loud. over and over.

She then called out, “Oh, and I found my Puppy!!”  “I found my puppy!”

I began to cry and laugh at the same time. I had tears in laughter. It was such a striking contrast. My heart was breaking, and it was also rejoicing. Out of all the things she could have said, this brought me the most comfort. I love puppies, and I loved that she was happy.

“Memaw, did you find your puppy?,” I asked.

No response.

My mother came in, and we both just sat with her. My mom said earlier that morning, my grandmother told her, “We’re going to miss you.” Meaning, they would miss each other.  Memaw didn’t say anything else. Ever. Again.

The next day, she left this earth. My mother, my uncle, and myself were there when she took her last breath.

Never before had Heaven felt so near. And, I am happy to be confirmed in my suspicions that there will be puppies there.

***here are the other verses that He gave me.***

Psalm 22:24 “For He has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy, He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.”

Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 25:4-7 “Show me the right path, O Lord, point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love. Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord.”

You have always been my helper. Don’t leave me now; or abandon me. O God of my salvation. Even if my mother and father abandon me,(My grandmother was an orphan) the Lord will hold me close.

v. 10 Lead me along the right path.”

Yet I am confident that I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”

Psalm 30: 11-12 “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks…forever.”

The Final Chapter and The Good Shepherd: My Grandmother part 3.

**If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, then you are aware how my home school curriculum works. By that, I mean that I follow a teacher’s manual that tells me what to read and when.

If you are unaware of what I am referring to, then you can read:

The Divine Chuckle or Setting the Record Straight.**

Two years ago, this week, my grandmother was in her last days on this earth. I did not know it then, but her life did feel very fragile to me. She was responding less and less and no longer eating.  I remember being very overwhelmed with the unknown’s of death. I had a lot of questions. Childlike questions. What would it be like with her gone? What should I do in these last few days? Are these the last few days? How can I tell? Does that even matter, really?

How does one prepare for the loss of someone who has had a huge impact in their life? So, much so that you were convinced they were immortal because you could not fathom their absence.

Whether I was prepared to answer these questions didn’t really matter because we were encouraged to bring in Hospice to aid the family with her care. The end was drawing near, and even her friends were coming in to say their good-bye’s.

I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience in a world I neither welcomed nor understood.

I decided to go ahead with our schooling as much as possible. I would spend time with my grandmother every day, but try and stay on track in the unknown. Besides, sometimes when you are lost, it’s best just to stay put. And routine is a blessing.

That fall, we were studying the ancients with My Father’s World Curriculum. They assigned some read aloud’s early on in the school year that did not seem to fit into the larger scope of our learning. Usually, our fiction has to do with the time in history that we are studying.

I would come to find out in the last week of my grandmother’s life, that God is often about the small, personal details as well as the bigger picture.

My girls and I were reading a book together by Patricia St. John called The Tanglewoods’ Secret. I had never heard of this book nor the author, but just opened it up a few weeks prior to my grandmother slipping away, and read our alloted pages. That week, the book took a serious turn with one of the characters.

Terry, a young impoverished boy whom the main characters, Ruth and Philip, had befriended had fallen out of a tree. It seemed through our reading that he would recover, but as we read this week two years ago, Terry began to question whether he was going to get well or not. He was suffering and in a lot of pain.

Here are some excerpts from the chapter I read five days before my grandmother died.

Pg. 144 The Tanglewood  Secrets

“Ruth,” said Terry suddenly as we sat in the twilight, “what’s dying like?”

I shuffled my feet uneasily. “Oh, I don’t know,” I answered, “but I think it’s very nice. At least, I think it’s just like going to a beautiful places where Jesus is, and where everyone is happy. Why? Terry?”

“Because I heard the doctor in the hospital say it. He said, “It’s all up with him, poor little chap!’ That means dying.”

“Ruth, does everyone go there?”

“I’m not sure,” I answered slowly. “I think perhaps you have to ask the Shepherd to find you. I think you have to belong to him. But that is quite easy, Terry. You only have to ask to be found, like the sheep in the picture.”

He frowned. “I was a bad boy,” he admitted.

“Ruth,” he said at last, “where’s the picture—the one you gave us?”

“Oh, you mean, my picture?” “I don’t know, Terry. I suppose your mother’s got it.”

“I’d like to look at it again,” he said. “I told Mum to take it away because it upset me to see that sheep stuck on the rocks and wondering whether maybe the Shepherd couldn’t reach it. But as it’s Jesus, I expect He could reach anywhere, couldn’t he?”

“Oh, yes,” I answered, “Jesus can reach anywhere. Nobody could stray away so far that Jesus couldn’t bring them back.”

“What I’d like would be a picture of that sheep after the Shepherd had picked him up, when he was safe in the Shepherd’s arms and being carried home. “I’d really like that.”

pg. 150

It was a framed picture of a meadow full of clean white sheep all walking one way and nibbling the grass as they went. In front of them walked a Shepherd with a crook, and in his arms lay a little lamb, peacefully asleep.

“Where’s He carrying him to?” Terry asked.

“Home, Terry,” answered Mr. Robinson.  “Safely, through each day until they get home.”

“Where’s Home?” went on Terry.

“It’s the place where the Shepherd lives and where we see Him face to face,” Mr. Robinson replied. “Shall I read you something about home Terry?”

The boy nodded, and Mr. Robinson took his New Testament from his pocket.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.”

“No more pain! That would be brilliant,” Terry said.


I caught sight of Terry’s face. It was even whiter than usual and all twisted up with pain. I wriggled nearer to the bed and took hold of his hand.

With a sob he said, “I wish I could go to that place where there ain’t no more pain.”

Philip and I were very upset, for we had never seen Terry like this before.

Philip had never prayed aloud before, but kneeled by the bed.

“Dear God, please take away Terry’s pain. Please make him well soon. Amen”

We looked at Terry and his eyes were fixed on his picture which hung just above his bed.

There were many footsteps around the house that evening, but no one heard the feet of the Good Shepherd when He drew near and picked Terry up in His arms.

Before the sun had risen again, while the stars were still high in the sky, Terry left his twisted, suffering body, and all his pain, behind him forever.

The Shepherd had carried him home.”

When I finished reading that assigned chapter, I had tears streaming down my face. I did not pick that book to read at that time. I did not know it was about a young boy who would die the same week as my grandmother.

It was a gift from God, beginning to prepare me as the Good Shepherd was drawing nearer to my grandmother. To my ‘Memaw.”

My Grandmother: part 2

“It’s not the cleaning I’m after….it’s the sweeping” Part 1

This is the journal entry from the evening I referred to in the previous post about my grandmother. I’m not sure what I want to call the series, but I think it is good to remember when your heart is longing to do so. Even if it’s a little painful.

Sept. 4 2008(two years ago today)

I went to see Memaw to say good night. My mother said she was not doing well today.

I am so glad that i did. She is in such a state.  As I walked down the hall in the nursing home, I wondered how many times I had made that trek in the last two years. Not nearly as much as my mother or uncle. She’s rarely without company.

Tonight that hall way went from being despised by me with its horrible smells of aging that are undeniable, to being one i desperately clung to for support and encouragement when I saw that my grandmother’s door was closed.

Why was the door shut?! It’s rarely shut. I was a little panicked at that because she has been going down hill since last month, but I was relieved when I knocked and saw the nurses head peek out.

She was weighing memaw.  When I asked the results she said it in such a way that felt defeated. 109 lbs. She is still losing weight.

As I stood outside, waiting, I could see into the room across the hall. The woman that was in the NH due to a stroke. It made me squirrelly; she was so young.

I thought of all of the people who have died since my grandmother has been a resident.

It hit me, that once so full of spunk, she has now become “one of those people.” She has become one of those people where you walk pass her room and feel such a sense of despair. of hopelessness. of discomfort with the painful reminder that we all will have an end that we cannot control.

It makes you want to look away. To pretend it’s not the way it really is. Now people pass her room with the same look that I would give others when I scooted by pushing her around in the wheel chair.

But all of those stories. All of those people. It can’t be hopeless, it can’t be meaningless.  They all had lives and have stories that matter.

And for memaw, the end means freedom. Freedom from a body that doesn’t work anymore. I keep trying to tell myself that she is preparing for a home-coming. But then, why do I feel so afraid?

These are  not things we can make sense of, we can only receive what the Lord has to show us in it.  My hands are open to receive from you, Lord. Help me to stay connected til the end. Help me not to be afraid. Help me not to run away, from her going away.

I sat on her bed and held her bony hand in mine. Mine that looked once again like a child’s hand in her own. How many times have I needed her hands? To take care of me. To help me with my math. To make us dinner. To drive me to practices. To buy me things that only a grandmother can be manipulated into doing so. To think that soon I will no longer have access to them.

I sat and looked at her face. Her head was cocked back and she was asleep. I could see her face at rest, I mean in the final rest. This was totally different from anytime before. And I started to cry.

What is it like to be a month away from your 91 st birthday,  and know that you may not make it to that? To see and sense, that you are on a threshold of some sort.  I swear, she has always seemed immortal to me. Or maybe it’s just what I needed to believe.

She woke up for a moment and told me that she was tired. It pained me to do so, but I told her it was alright to be tired. She’s worked her entire life, never allowing herself to rest. Some people just need our permission. I gave her mine. And she smiled.

I told her that I loved her. And she said, “I love you too. I love you all.”

And then she fell back asleep. It was dark.

I said a quiet prayer. “Thank you Jesus, for all of those years. For honoring my little girl request that she see me grow up. That she meet my children. For giving me so many more years than I hoped for.”

**we had two weeks left with her. she taught me a great deal in those final moments.**

Sydney’s Sunflower Story

When I was tucking my youngest into bed the other night, in the dark she asked, “Will you tell me Sydney’s Sunflower Story again?”

It went something like this…..

The other morning, I was taking my daughter to the doctor first thing.  Knowing that we would be close to the neighborhood of a good friend, I called her to ask if she would be seeing Sydney later that day. I wanted to get some fresh sunflowers to her, and knew now that I was dealing with a sick child, I’d be unable to see her myself for a while. I did not get a response.

Once back home and settled in, I got the call that she was in fact heading to see our sick friend who is in a palliative care facility 30 minutes a way. I asked her to give me half an hour to scribble a little note and go pick up some flowers.  I raced to the local grocery store where I had seen the beautiful sunflowers the week before and wanted desperately to get them to Sydney, who has been cooped up indoors for way too long.

I scooted into the store and saw a woman with her back to me. Her arms were loaded down with sunflowers and there were few left in the display canister. I became very angry and possessive walking up to her, until I noticed her blue jacket and name tag. She was the manager of the floral department. She felt me hovering and turned to ask if I needed help. I told her that I needed a bouquet of sunflowers, and she responded that I was in luck. She had just marked them down.

As I walked over to the counter, I realized that she could cut them for my vase that I had left in the car. “Would you mind cutting them to a good length for me if I run and get my vase?”, I asked.

“Sure, dear,” she said in a grandmotherly way. I was now getting very excited about my good fortune. Left to me, they would have gone to Sydney leggy and clumped.

When I returned, she began measuring and cutting. Casually, she asked me what they were for. I never really know how to answer this question. It has become very personal, and to the average onlooker there are just no adequate words.

I took a deep breath. “They are for a sweet friend of mine, who is recovering in a palliative care facility from complications with her brain tumor,” I said.

“Oh,” she responded. She got quiet and continued to work. As she shaped them, my vase began to transform. She then asked, “Does she have any children?”

I hate this part.

“Yes,” I said. “She has three children under 8 years old.”

“Oh dear,” she whispered.

Snip. Cut. Arrange.

“That is looking AWESOME!” I said. “Do you happen to have any ribbon?”

She turned her back and began to dig deep into a cabinet. She set two ribbons on the counter. One was yellow with orange and pink stripes. But the other one I picked up, and held in my hands.

She turned to get some other choices for me and I said, “Oh, no. This one. The one with the butterflies on it is perfect.” She smiled. And I said, “This is her. This is Sydney.”

She took the ribbon in her hands and began forming an intricate bow. She seemed to be lost in thought, and I heard her say barely audible, “My mother died of a brain tumor.”

“Oh,” I said quietly. “I’m so sorry.”

“Yes, it was a long time ago” she said.

As she worked with her hands, it stayed quiet.

“You are a very good friend,” she broke the silence. She smiled at me, and placed the tasteful, ornate bow into the vase. “It’s just so hard,” she added.

“Thank you so much, Mini” I said, noting her name tag. I could tell that this project was not just for me and Sydney. It was for her as well.

As she continued to work, she told me about the type of tumor her mother had. She told me how it mercilessly wrapped itself around the back of her brain. She said that it was inoperable.

As I reached for the bouquet, she grabbed my hand gently and said, “Wait a minute. I have something else.” She went around the corner and began digging in a box with her back to me. She then turned around with a beautiful, very realistic butterfly the size of my palm. Had I not seen her pull it out from storage, at first glance I would have thought it real.

“Wow! Mini! That is Amazing!” I exclaimed. She smiled and worked some wire around the middle of the orange butterfly. She then fastened into the center of the largest, tallest sunflower of the bunch.

I was speechless because Mini had no idea that four weeks ago, I had given Sydney this photograph as a gift to let her know how I see her. And will always see her.

I was also a little worried because I didn’t have much money to spend on this arrangement. Though I was positive that I was not going to leave without it.

“There,” she said satisfied. She turned her back to print up the price tag.

I didn’t want to look at what it was going to cost me.

“Thank you, Mini. This is going to be spectacular in her room. I hope you have a good day,” I said.

“You’re welcome,” she said. “She’s very lucky to have you.” She smiled wistfully.

I went to pay for my bouquet. It rang up as $4.00.

When I took the arrangement to my friend, for transport, the first words out of her mouth were…..”Carrie!! Those are amazing. That is way too expensive.”

I thought to myself that it did cost a lot. But, not in dollars and cents.

I looked at my youngest barely able to make out her face in the dark that night after the telling of my tale.

She said, “Mom. Do you think we could go and visit her sometime?”

“Well, I don’t know if they allow children where Sydney is, honey.” I said.

“No, Mom. I mean Mini,” she said. “Would you take me to meet Mini, the flower lady?”

“Sure,” I said. “I’m sure she would love to meet you.”

Colors, Cars, and Clothes: A Conversation with Sydney

Sydney Boone Gaylord

April 13, 1976 – August 29, 2011

Today, on August 29, 2011 at 3:04pm my beautiful friend, Sydney Gaylord passed away from an almost 3-year battle with brain cancer. We thought were going to lose her in December, which was when I wrote this post. 

I’ve been comforted by the prayer I prayed in her kitchen in December. I prayed that my friend would walk again.  Paint again. Dazzle again. Obsess again. Glow again.  God answered that prayer.

She did walk again.

In late March, she walked into my birthday celebration and later found herself passing a driver’s test on her 35th birthday a few weeks later.

Today, this prayer has certainly been answered in a way that I can only dream of but one day will see with my own eyes.

I love you, Syd. So much. And I miss you already. 

December 2010

Two weeks ago, we had a prayer meeting for our friend, Sydney. She’s been struggling since the summer with complications from the swelling in her brain caused by a tumor. She is young, vibrant, and beautiful.

As people began to share updates on her so that we could pray more specifically, I became overwhelmed. Not only because she is suffering, but according to those closest to her she has had only two days in the last 8 weeks where she seemed very much like her real self.  The tumor is robbing us of her in many heart wrenching ways. Her husband described it this way on her most recent Caring Bridge Update:

“Because of her lack of recovery, the doctors are concerned that her brain may have been injured beyond its ability to regenerate. This is not common in young people, but it does occasionally happen. Additionally, the doctors are beginning to put her tumor in the camp of gliomatosis cerebri, rather than just an infiltrative astrocytoma. This type of tumor is very rare and frequently pervades throughout the brain in a way that cannot always be seen on an MRI. This type of tumor would be more able to traumatize the brain.

In any event, while she is not in any real physical pain, her anxiety, agitation, and delusional state are by far our biggest challenge right now. Effectively, she is suffering from mental illness and addressing this is our first priority.”

It turns out that her two ‘good’ days were on December 22 and 23rd. The same two days that she had asked me for some music, and I went to give it to her.  It was as if a dark cloud went away for an afternoon so that you could finally catch a glimpse of the sun. You know the sun is always there even if it is hidden, but you miss it all the same.

As I sit and think on it, I am unsure why I was given that gift of “seeing” her again. I am not her closest friend in life though we have been connected on a deep heart level for several years.  Lately, the thought has occurred to me it could have been so I could record it for others. For all of the people in her life that love and miss her so much, because I am one of many.

On December 23, 2010, I stood on the front porch of my friend’s house bearing gifts. I looked at the colorful wreath hanging on the door and remembered walking into the same house a year ago with over 70 other ladies for our church’s annual Christmas party. It was a night alive with people, activity, and chaos. Exactly the way Sydney likes things and is, amazingly, able to thrive.

I knocked gently on the front door honoring the handwritten sign tapped over the doorbell. Though cautioned of her current state, I was still stunned to see her lying in a hospital bed. As I peaked in at her, she saw me. She got very excited and perked up. I sat down in the wheelchair next to her and positioned myself to see her better.

Of all things she asked me how I was doing, inquired after my husband’s schooling, and our new church. As we sat talking and catching up, her husband brought in a hot, steamy bowl of pepper and olive oil linguine. She insisted that she and I have lunch together. He smiled at her and said, “I’ll get Carrie a bowl, but first I want you to taste it to see if I’ve gotten it just right.”  Picking up a wad of pasta with her fingers, she took a bite and confined he had.

As we ate, I looked up at a painting that hung on the wall beside us. I asked, “Syd, did you paint that?”

It was an enormous starburst of bright, bold color. She told me that she had painted it last year while taking a class. Then she said with a smirk and a shrug of her shoulders, “He said you could not do a painting with a putty knife.”

I laughed out loud as I assumed she was referring to the teacher and noticed the thick, blunt streaks that were clearly made with such an instrument.

I asked her to tell me more about her major in college. She took studio art at Carolina, and I never tire of hearing her experiences with creating things, though she never gives herself much credit. I asked her who her favorite artist was which led her into a dreamy reverie of Vincent Van Gogh. She told me of how she fell in love with his colors many years ago.  Then almost in the same breath, she looked forward and said, “That’s Kasey Kahne in that commercial. I’m obsessed with him.”

One thing I love about Sydney is her use of the word ‘obsessed.’ When she gets excited about a new thing or person, which is often, that is her indicator that something new has been born.

I looked at the TV and laughed out loud remembering her recent fascination with Nascar. “Sydney” I said, “only you could love those two things together” as I pointed up to her painting and then to the young driver sporting the #83. She laughed.

As we sat together, she asked if I had received the email about their Christmas party that was taking place at the house that night. I was confused. She got upset thinking that my expression was one of feeling slighted for my lack of invite.  She said, “Carrie, just come anyway. It’s going to be huge. EVERYONE is invited”

But that was not the reason for my puzzlement. I took a good look at her, lying in bed in her nightgown. I knew deep down that there was no party, but I realized that if she had been well again, there most certainly would have been because that’s how she rolls. This painful reality made me sad.

I let her know that I had not checked my email in the last few days and for her not to worry. She  got really excited and told me to go into her closet to look at her “sharp, red pants suit” for the party. I mentioned I had just read an article in the paper about how they were coming back in style, as if I was any kind of authority on the matter. She totally agreed and insisted again that I go look.

I got up and walked to the closet with her back to me. I opened the door feeling a bit sheepish for looking inside. It felt too personal, and I knew that Sydney has never been one for ‘tidiness.’ I took a deep breath and relaxed when I realized that she was never one to care that she was not either.

The closet was neat which actually deepened my sadness. It was just another indication of her lack of mobility. I looked to the left for her pants suit but only saw her husband’s clothes neatly arranged.

Then I looked to the right, and I froze. I saw all of her clothes and shoes. Syd is known for her clothes; the styles and color combinations that only she can pull off with brilliance. Here she was again vibrant, beautiful still hanging and folded in her closet. I ran my hand over her lime green fleece, a favorite of mine and moved a couple of shirts to take in all of the bold prints.

I looked at her jewelry knowing this was not even half of it.  I also knew that she didn’t know or care where the rest of it was due to loaning out so many beautiful things. If you ever admired something in her presence, it quickly became your own because, she made claims on very little.

I saw my favorite shirt of hers. The last time I saw her in it was at our women’s bible study this fall. I remembered her telling me that she was worried because her right side had started to freeze up. She showed me the remnants of her coffee that she dropped and spilled because her hand had spontaneously given way. I felt sick inside.

I saw the salmon blouse that she was wearing the last time I saw her walking. We were at a cookout together in October where we sat and chatted. She leaned forward and told me that she wanted me to come over sometime. She wanted me to sit by her bed with her and pray.

I stood there taking in her amazing sense of style and relaxed beauty. My friend, Julianna and I still laugh at the time we were at a TCBY last spring, and Syd randomly walked through the door. Frozen Yogurt had become a new “obsession”.

We looked at her dressed in a cute short, brown dress, a bright pashmina, and rain boots with polka dots on them. There was not a cloud in the sky, and she looked stunning.

All of it just rushed over me as I ran my fingers across her fleece. Wondering. Just wondering.

When I sat back down, she asked me if I had ever had a certain type of cookie that she loved.  She asked me to go and preheat the oven, because she was going to get up and make some for me and my girls. I smiled and went into the kitchen.

I did not know what to do. I felt so aimless, small, and out of control thinking over the last few months.  I stood all alone in the quiet and just prayed. Prayed that my friend would walk again.  Paint again. Dazzle again. Obsess again. Glow again.

When I sat back down with her, I could tell she was getting tired. Though our talking got slower and quieter, she told me about all of the things she wanted to do this year. All of the things she wanted to learn. I listened to her idea of a taking a trip on a bike designed by a friend to accommodate her special needs. She mentioned kayaking, and a list of other things.

She began to close her eyes more often, and I ran my fingers through her hair. She smiled. I said that it was so soft and pretty. Her eyes were closed as she said, “My hairdresser came yesterday, and I had it done. I’m obsessed with her.”  I smiled.

“Sydney,” I said, “I’m going to go and let you get some rest” still running my fingers through her hair. It felt like a baby chick. I stood up and heard her trying to recite the fruits of the spirit. With her eyes closed, she got stuck on one. I leaned down to give her a hug and whispered the word ‘gentleness’ in her ear.

As I was leaving she said, “Carrie, you know what verse I’m going to put on our Christmas card this year?” I stopped and turned around.  She said “what Mary said,” with her eyes closed. I asked if she meant what Mary said to the angel Gabriel. She nodded trying to recall it.  I recited, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” She nodded, and I left quietly.

As I walked away, I treasured up all of the things and pondered them in my heart.

A Love Note From Above

This morning my youngest found a note tucked into a book that I received at my last birthday party. It has been on the shelf for 13 months. I’m overwhelmed love how the Lord uses people to speak truth into our dark places even when they are no longer with us.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses….let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, despising its shame. Now, he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Heb. 12 NLT

The Birthday Girl

(*photo by Eugenia Grow)

It had everything one might expect at a birthday party. A string of colorful balloons and streamers lined the front porch. Two young girls in fancy dresses pranced in and out of the front door like wild ponies full of excitement as the guests began to arrive. There was a “do it yourself” Mojito station, a lovely catered dinner with all of the fixings, and the infamous “carmel cake” was displayed in the dining room.

It was a perfect setting that lacked only one thing. The Birthday Girl, and we were all missing her.

It has been almost 8 months since Sydney passed away, and her husband Todd had graciously opened up his home for an evening of celebration and remembrance. He has been amazing through this entire journey. As a confessed introvert, he has unselfishly time and again, invited people into his grief and loss with his amazing writing.

Now he opened up his home (and Syd’s closet:) which provided everyone with an opportunity to pause, laugh, feel, and cry. We were celebrating her birth, but more importantly we were there to commemorate the life that touched us all so much.

After dinner, the sharing began. Todd started the round with a hilarious story about his wife, Sydney. You can read about it here.

As the stories progressed and more people began to speak, my husband leaned over and asked if I was going to share. I shook my head and whispered, “No. I just don’t have any words right now.”

This was true concerning that particular moment, but it was also the case for my life over the past 6 months.

At the realization of my long season of silence, I got uncomfortable and very wiggly. I am known to lots of people by my words and by my laughter.  Both of which could be induced by my quiet relationship with Sydney.  So, I decided to try to find her.

I quietly slipped out of the living room and went to visit Sydney’s closet. It was just a small window preserved so that we can still get a glimpse of the whimsical, intrepid dynamo that she was because so much of that was displayed in what she wore.

I stepped into this portal and immediately teared up, but I also felt very happy. How can you only be sad standing amongst Sydney’s wardrobe and jewelry? All of the colors, the boldness, the patterns, and the style encapsulated her free spirit. It was like walking through a field of wildflowers.

I looked at some of her favorite books and necklaces. I ran my hand across her shirts and giggled at all of her silly, printed t-shirts and four pairs of the same running shoe. And then I saw them, the very large, but simple turquoise earrings. I moved in for a closer look.

Last spring, Sydney walked into my birthday party at Cantina. That may read as rather uninteresting. But it was a miracle that she was there and that she was walking. She had been in a wheelchair for months, and we all doubted that she would ever regain her footing.

When I opened her gift, I found myself an enviable recipient of a “Sydney Original.” She had made me some earrings, and I was very touched by how well she captured me. They were small, subtle, and very delicate turquoise earrings.

Standing there in her closet, I realized that she had the same pair, only Syd’s were larger and more dynamic. She had made me something of herself but had adjusted it to fit me.

I had found some words.

I quietly walked back into the living room and rejoined the group. I still did not know if I would share, but at least I felt more connected to the evening, to Sydney, and to myself.

***This is what I wound up sharing. I am writing it out as requested to be placed in a book for Todd and Sydney’s children:

“How I Met Your Mother.”

I knew of your mom through church. I say that only to communicate that is where I recognized her from the day we actually met in an Old Navy.

You have to know that your mother was a special kind of “lovely crazy.” I do not mean that she was unbalanced, for she was most certainly of a sound mind. But she would get SO excited about something, throw caution to the wind, and then chase after it with both hands. That day, she was excited about me.

As I was walked around the store, I noticed that everywhere I turned, your mom was right there. Finally, she popped around the corner and said (declared:), “Hi. I’m Sydney Gaylord. I heard you speak at church a few months ago, and I really want to get to know you. I really want to be your friend.”

I was startled, but mostly I was just deeply touched. Your mom had no idea of the kind of day that I was having or the darkness that I was being called into for redemption’s sake. But God did and here was your mom, a sun burst of beauty and light declaring me worthy of pursuit.

I smiled at her and said that I would very much like to be her friend.

A few months later, she invited herself over to my house for lunch. Again, I was very startled but, in this context, I was also intimidated. I knew that your mother had refined tastes and lots of experience with dining. I don’t cook and my home is very small and humble. But my insecurities were outweighed by my desire to be with your mother.

She brought you two girls, (this was before your brother was born) and you played with my daughters. You were SO engrossed with Maggie and Emma because they were “big” girls. You played dress up and played with the ‘misfits.’

I fixed your mother a grilled cheese sandwich, which I scorched, to go with our tomato soup. She sat in my kitchen and raved about the meal as if she were being served at the White House.

After we finished eating and had shared some of our stories, your mother got up and began “snooping” around.

You will hear this often pertaining to your mom. She had an unquenchable thirst when it came to finding out about something or someone. But it never felt obtrusive to me, only loving.

Well, maybe it felt a little obtrusive when she opened up my freezer and pulled out my 5 lb. bag of M&M’s. But, after she turned to me and said, “Now, I love you even more for having this kind of stash,” I realized that she was a safe, kindred spirit.

When it was time to go, she gave me a hug. That was when she saw a few photographs on top of my bookshelf. She picked them up and began rifling through them. (read *snooping) She stopped at one and said, “What is this?”

I looked at it and responded, “That is a photo I took of a hydrangea bush just beginning to bloom.”

“It’s amazing,” she said.

I looked at it again.

“Really?” I doubted.

At that point my husband had come home from work and had joined us.

“Really?” he echoed. “I’ve never thought much of it.”

I looked at my new friend and smiled. “Sometimes,” I said, “We have to outsource our encouragement.”

She threw her head back and laughed deeply and unabashedly.

She asked me why I took the picture.

“I liked it because Hydrangea’s can grow on dead wood. In this moment, it still looked pretty lifeless to me against the pine straw with only a few little green leaves poking out. It is a picture of where winter and spring meet. It is a picture of hope.”

She was quiet. Then she hugged me again and told me that I take great pictures.

About a week later, I got a call from your mom asking if she could have that photograph. She said she needed something for a class that represented “hope” to her and wanted to use it. I felt touched and was happy to give it to her. I scribbled a verse on the back and wrote “to my new friend, Sydney.”

A few months later, she gave me this.

She found it at a flea market and said it reminded her of me and the “hydrangea of hope.”

Now it sits in my kitchen window as a daily reminder that no matter how long or barren the winter, spring always follows. Your mother staked her life on that truth and now needs no daily reminder. She is living in the proof.

This was one of the many things that I loved about your mom. She believed by faith that in Jesus, hope can always be found if one only took the time to look.

That was what she did with me one day in a store, and with countless other people over the years. This was one of her special gifts to a hurting world, and it will never quite be the same without her.

(*taken at your mother’s grave the day of her funeral)

Go in Peace.

“Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”  Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings.

Three years ago today on a Wednesday afternoon, I sat with my grandmother and her two children as she drew her last breath and left this earth. I did not know that she was going to pass away on that day. I just knew that it was going to be soon. It was two weeks before her 91st birthday.

She had been rapidly declining over the previous weeks, and my mother called to say that the medical staff had begun to administer morphine to keep my “Memaw” pain-free. The end was drawing closer, so I went to say goodbye.

I sat by her bedside. She was unresponsive except for her loud methodical breaths that echoed throughout the room. I got very angry sitting there and contemplated leaving. Instead, I just laid my head down on her bed and cried. I let all that was inside of me pour out on to her covers.

After a while my uncle and I began to talk when all of a sudden, we heard her breathing skip a beat. He and I looked at each other. I turned back to Memaw and it happened again. Then all of a sudden, she took one last deep breath and then it stopped altogether. Forever.

She was gone.

All my life, I had feared and dreaded the moment when she would no longer exist. She helped raise me, and we were very close. I was not sure if I could get through the next several days.

This was compounded because most of my friends were set to leave for our churches women’s retreat in two days. Some of them were in leadership and could not miss the trip, so they would be unable to walk with me through the weekend.

I would have my husband and children by my side but not some of my best peeps. I can still hear my friend Jen saying, “Carrie, if the funeral can be on Sunday, I promise you….we will be there. We will get back for you.”

Knowing my predicament, my family gave me a beautiful gift, one of the best I have ever received from them. Since Memaw was to be buried in South Carolina on Saturday, they scheduled her memorial service for late Sunday afternoon where I would be speaking in her memory along with my brother and twin sister.

Friday morning, I sat on my front porch feeling very sad and alone. My friends were set to leave to go on my favorite weekend of the year. My phone rang and I looked to see Sydney Gaylord’s name popping up on my phone.

I answered it literally with laughter and tears, because I love how God works. We chatted for a bit and she asked me questions just like she was always so good at doing. I told her I was so sad to be left at home for the weekend. She too promised me that she would be there for the memorial service.

I was deeply touched by her call and I no longer felt so alone. Sydney was 5 1/2 months pregnant with their third child and not particularly known for showing up to places on time or when she said she was going to. So for me just to have that memory was enough.

Sunday night came and as I walked into the church with my family, I saw all the faces of the friends and people whom I loved. What an amazing gift. They were all there, some only back in town for a few hours. I rose and walked to the podium. I faced the crowd and looked up into the balcony. There was Sydney and her husband, Todd. I could not believe it.

In the weeks that followed, I found it hard to adjust to life and to grieving. I did not think as clearly nor move as quickly and would cry spontaneously in public. This is very difficult in a culture that prides itself on production and efficiency. I was struggling and one day soon after the funeral, Sydney called and asked to watch my children for an afternoon so I could have some quiet time to write.

She knew that it was hard for me to accept help, so she insisted, almost pleading that it would actually help her to have my girls over to play with her younger children. It takes a special person to spin something like that to make you feel as though you are doing them a favor by accepting their offer of childcare.

When I picked up my girls, Sydney and I  sat down and talked for a bit. I remember because she made me laugh so hard going on and on about my grandmother’s name. It was Cossetta, but everyone called her “Cozy.”

Sydney kept saying, “Can you imagine a cooler nickname!?” “I’d love to be called that.”

And then came the words I’ll never forget and have thought of several times over the past two weeks.

“Carrie,” she said, “I loved what you wrote about your grandmother for the memorial service. I wish I could have met her. I wish I could have known your “Memaw.”

Yesterday, chilly and alone, I sat by Sydney’s graveside. We chatted for a bit, and  I ended our little talk by asking her to say ‘hi’ to my Memaw. I feel certain that they have finally met one another and with further contemplation, was struck by their similarities of sheer courage and determination. I imagined the stories they swapped and shared.

Like this one….

My grandmother was in a potential life shattering car accident when I was in college. She broke several ribs and her femur when she slammed into the steering wheel.

She had to be cut out of the car that day and I’ll never forget her battered face and body when they rolled her into surgery. The road to recovery was long and very painful, but she walked it. Literally.

I remember being in the hospital room when the Doctor came in to advise the family to have her leg amputated. We declined and 5 months later, she walked unassisted into her Sunday School’s Christmas party. Sound familiar?

The day after my grandmother passed away, I went for a long run thinking about all of our years together. It was difficult loosing her, but mostly were the fears I had of the unknown of where she was.

I was trying to work things out in my mind when I stopped jogging and started to walk. It was so lovely out and you could feel the assurance of autumn in the air. The sky was so clear and blue so I just sat down and rested in the grass. That was when I heard these words speaking to my spirit.

They were “Carrie, It is much harder to be left behind than to have gone where I am now. Don’t worry about me.  I am complete now. I am whole. I am so happy. There is no “missing” here because there is no loneliness or separation.”

I knew that I did not understand all I was “hearing.” I got up and walked home feeling better and more at peace than I had in a long time because I had finally let her go.

Let her go in peace.

It is not so easy with Sydney. She was so young, vibrant and had so many full years left a head of her before the cancer came. All it takes for the tears to fall is to think of Todd, the kids, her family and her close friends.

But, as I sat there yesterday at the cemetery, I had never been more convinced that she was no longer here. The grass had begun to grow on top of her grave and soon the marker of her name and years will be settled in its place to alert those passing by that this is where her body is laid to rest. But just her body and nothing else.

Her laughter and zeal for life did not cease with her breathing, it only changed locations. And now, our friend who was SO bound and frustrated by time on this earth is no longer late for anything. What brought such chaos, hardship, and discord for her earthly life is no longer a thought or a worry where she is now.

For once in her life, she can truly Go In Peace.

“But the worst isn’t the last thing about the world. It’s the next to the last thing. The last thing is the best. It’s the power from on high that comes down into the world, that wells up from the rock-bottom worst of the world like a hidden spring. Can you believe it? The last, best thing is the laughing deep in the hearts of the saints, sometimes our hearts even. Yes. You are terribly loved and forgiven. Yes. You are healed. All is well.”
– Frederick Buechner, The Final Beast

Dressed in Gentleness: When Someone Loves What You Dislike

This past February had been long and difficult.  When life gets this way, I tend to compound matters by doubting myself and my design. God chose to make me into a gigantic “feeler,” and often times, I cannot stand it. As a matter of fact, one of my questions for the comment box that I envision hanging on the pearly gates before you walk into Heaven will pertain to this creative decision by the Potter’s hand.

I woke up one morning that cold, dreary month almost offended that another day had arrived.

Didn’t I JUST do this yesterday? And now I have to DO IT all over again??!

I sat down at my computer and opened up my email. There was a message from my friend, Sydney. She had forwarded me her daily devotional from Henri Nouwen.

I opened it and at first, I laughed out loud. I read what she wrote not fully taking in its meaning and got tickled because I LOVE how she always extended her “O’s” for certain words. Two of her favorite uses were reserved for the words ‘so’ and ‘love.’ Immediately, I felt better and I wondered when I would see her monogram changed to “SSSSSSBBBBBBGGGGGG.”

I refocused and read her email to me.

And then I cried, because I am a “feeler.”

Feb. 10, 2011

This is SOOOOOOO YOU!!!!!!!!!!  I LOVE YOU, Syd.

“Dressed in Gentleness

Once in a while we meet a gentle person. Gentleness is a virtue hard to find in a society that admires toughness and roughness. We are encouraged to get things done and to get them done fast, even when people get hurt in the process. Success, accomplishment, and productivity count. But the cost is high. There is no place for gentleness in such a milieu.

Gentle is the one who does “not break the crushed reed, or snuff the faltering wick” (Matthew 12:20). Gentle is the one who is attentive to the strengths and weaknesses of the other and enjoys being together more than accomplishing something. A gentle person treads lightly, listens carefully, looks tenderly, and touches with reverence. A gentle person knows that true growth requires nurture, not force. Let’s dress ourselves with gentleness. In our tough and often unbending world our gentleness can be a vivid reminder of the presence of God among us.”

There is something very beautiful about being known and loved in the areas that you dislike about yourself. That is the beauty of living in community because others can speak words of life into the parts of your heart and soul that feel like death or a burden. It is helpful to have a different perspective than your own especially when the personal one is fraught of years and years of negative affirmation and association.

Sydney encouraged me that day to see that there was something lovely and special about my design. And I am sooooooooooooo thankful to have known her and been known by her. I hope to take the words to heart even more now that she is gone and the surprise emails and notes of encouragement will no longer come, which is the beauty of a memory saved and remembered. It can be missed but not forgotten.

Too, I hope that I will do the same for someone else when I read or hear something that reminds me of their special design. Maybe they also will feel a “vivid reminder of the presence of God among us” and be blessed as I was that day to see myself in a different, more gentle light.

Feb. 7, 2011

thank you for sending me this sydney. you are so dear to me.

That’s the irony of you sending me this. You make me feel this way. There is something so stabilizing and comforting to me when i am with you that makes me feel not hurried and at rest. It’s nothing you ‘do’, it’s just who you are. 🙂 You’re medicine for my soul.

You’ve always reminded me of a big sister:).

Hope PT goes well. I’m so proud of you. You have been through the fire these last few months, and you are still willing to try and rise(stand:). i admire that so much in you.

much love. always.