Birthday

Today is the celebration of my day of birth.

In the wake of the emotions of the past week, today sort of pales in comparison. My parents are out of town getting ready for the funeral and I work two jobs so I didn’t wake up this morning expecting much.

But I forget sometimes how much joy and love those kids share with me. They piled on the hugs today and sang songs to me during lunch and made up a birthday dance. Those kids made my birthday feel like a celebration on a day when I was sure there would be none.

At tutoring today another teacher brought me a cupcake from Chicago. My brother and I went out for dinner tonight and we filled up on good food and high calorie dessert, exactly as my grandma would have wanted us to.

I am blessed and happy, and as my grandma said, “fat and sassy,” and I am so thankful for each and every one of you who extended love and prayer and sympathy and kindness yesterday and today. You all make life special and precious and that is the best birthday gift I could dream of.

A letter today to my parents, without which I never would have had a birthday to begin with. Post will be edited and picture uploaded later.

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Death

Yesterday I pulled into my parking lot at work when my phone rang.

My grandma passed away Tuesday morning. My dad was with her and said she was the most peaceful she’s been in a while and faded out in her sleep. That has to be the best way to go.

This is sad. It is gut-wrenchingly sad. I cried a lot yesterday at random times, most especially on my commute home. The hour I used to spend every day on the phone with her was now spent in silence. I was reminded that I never got to tell her about the wedding I was in or that she’ll never see me get married; that I won’t be able to share stories about my day on the phone or see her joy at Christmas lights.

But I remember that all of these things that I am missing are things that I’ve had the blessing to experience in the first place. I was blessed with an incredible grandmother who loved me enough to want to talk to me every day.

And I know there was a resounding roar in heaven yesterday when she entered. That woman was a party and everyone must still be dancing now with her.

A letter today to my grandma. I’ll edit and post pictures later.

This has been

the worst, most exhausting, emotional weekend I’ve ever experienced.

I spent the weekend in Michigan with my grandmother, who is now on hospice and in her last days, and my grandfather who is trying to figure out how to accept this new life. My dad and I stayed in their empty apartment, me sleeping in a sleeping bag, since they have moved into assisted living. There are no chairs to sit in and the floor is littered with things like shoes that will never be worn again.

One story. At one point when my grandma was aware, she pulled my dad and my grandpa close to her on the hospital bed and started sobbing. She told them she loved them over and over again, called them her beautiful son and her sweet husband, and we all cried together while she said goodbye.

I started writing here about the other particulars and then I erased it.

The thing is, this bit that’s left is not my grandmother anymore. I don’t want to remember her this way. This is the end of my grandmother.

This story is my grandma. While at their place my dad answered their phone to one of my grandma’s old friends. He had to tell her that my grandma is dying and the woman on the phone started to cry. “She was my best friend,” she said. “I loved her before I had even met her.”

This is the legacy my grandma leaves. There are several people who will share with us at her funeral similar stories. My grandma spent her life building friendships and loving people well. Her personality was known and craved in social circles and the funeral home will be packed full of people celebrating her life and mourning her death.

This weekend was emotional. I went to bed at seven last night because my body is having a hard time dealing with the stress.

But I want to live a life like my grandma’s. I want to have friendships that are rare and astonishing.

Four postcards for you.

To Nick, on his birthday.

To Tiffany, a mail convert.

To Jenny, to celebrate her new school year.

To Corey, who is also about to go through some major life changes.

On a side note. I’m out of postcard stamps, so if you see a postcard coming your way you’ll have to wait until I have a chance to go to the post office. Know that it’s here for you and on its way!

New Jobs

are scary.

I am blessed to be starting my second year at my job. I went through the training again on Monday and was blown away at how different it seemed. Last year I was terrified and nervous and sure I would never do anything right. This year I was excited and saying hi to old coworkers and acquaintances.

My friend Stephanie is starting a new job and I’m sure she will be fantastic at it. But the whole first month of work is scary no matter where you are or who you are.

So today’s letter is for her, hopefully a little love an encouragement to start her off for next week.

Good luck girl!

Empty

 

I was lucky to have a full mailbox today. Score!

A thoughtful letter from Jen.

A postcard from Katie in Boston, visiting my second choice grad school. Most excellent.

When I visited Tiffany recently she told me that empty mailboxes were sad days. I like the idea of living in a world with so much mail that empty mailboxes would be the anomaly instead of the norm, where we could expect letters and well-wishes instead of bills and junk mail. To continue in that dream, a postcard for Tiffany.

Small dogs

Alright. I’ve always said I don’t like small dogs. And I stand by that, I really do.

But we’ve had to adopt my grandma’s little dog now that she’s not able to take care of her anymore and she is turning out to be not so bad. She’s super cuddly and has been sitting around writing letters tonight.

She’s quite hairy though, and could use a hair cut.

Little dogs remind me of Kara who loves her Peanut. I would love to have coffee with her, and if only St. Louis was next to Schaumburg we could have puppy dates and catch up.

Birthday

I am terrible at remembering birthdays.

But it is Caleigh’s birthday today, and I want to make sure she knows that she is an absolutely splendid and rare person and a joy to know. Thank you for giving me the chance to get to know you and be in your life, and I’m looking forward to hanging out with you for years to come.

I know this isn’t a birthday card, but those aren’t always my style. Instead, a super strange postcard.

To Caleigh. Happy birthday!

 

Elevate

Next Sunday I will get to start volunteering again. Finally! I’ll be leading a small group of sixth grade girls in the junior high ministry at my church. I am excited to meet them and a little nervous and just ready to start working with them.

I am ready to have people to get to know and new addresses to write to. I want to build up friendships between these girls for those difficult junior high years so they can support each other. I am ready to engage in conversations and to put in time and work and energy to make this awesome.

I’m writing today to some of my girls from my last junior high/high school group. We’ve all moved on to different churches and places but I loved the way they opened up in group and checked in with the other students and leaders throughout the week for prayer requests and encouragement. We started a habit of writing letters to another person in group every week so that we could expect something in our mail boxes to let us know we are valued, appreciated, and loved.

Fun

I had a really good time the other night. I rarely stay up late and go out with friends and we had such a good group of people sharing pizza and wings and completely trouncing me in pool and for hours we were able to laugh and relax and just be.

As much as a schedule is good for my life, as much as going to bed early and getting up early are good, there’s something to be said for the occasional late night. That’s when you build memories and friendships and stories to tell.

I wrote to Betsy. I think she was instrumental in making the night glorious. She has a way of speaking to every person that amazes me. She makes people from every social circle comfortable around her. That is beautiful.

100

This is post 100!

Some of the past posts have more than one letter, so I’ve actually written more than a hundred letters in this project. Whoa.

My first post was April 14th, so I have written a letter a day for four months. A third of the year is done. I LOVE MILESTONES.

Anyway. This letter goes out to Jenny, my boss lady. I appreciate her and her sense of fun which coexists with an incredible work ethic. The kids love her, and so do I.