graduation day

Anna Katherine, 
Thank you for bringing so much joy into our lives! Words will always fall short when describing the love we have for you. When God bestows the blessing of a child to parents, he gives us a fleeting glimpse of his love for us. It is a love full of joy, fear, pain, and hope. All of these feelings wrapped into one and felt every moment from the day you were born. 
You have accomplished so much in your 18 years with us. 18 years that feel more like 18 seconds. If only there was a pause button. A pause for your smiles, your laughter, your tears of joy, and a fast forward for your tears of sorrow. We are so proud of your accomplishments! However, the greatest pride comes through observation. Being the ones chosen to witness what you are becoming, overwhelms us with gratitude. 

 Through the years we have watched as your heart filled and then overflowed with kindness and compassion. We watched as your sweet, humble spirit bloomed. We watched you work hard and never give up. We were fascinated by your wit, talents and creativity. It did not take long before your God given gifts had created a light around you. A light that everyone sees, even though you never seek the spotlight. 

Most importantly, we watched as your faith in Christ became stronger and stronger. Knowing that you are living a life that is pleasing to Christ fills our hearts with joy! 

What a blessing these eighteen years have been! As we close this chapter with you, we smile knowing that you are an independent young lady who is fully prepared and fully confident to begin the next chapter. We are so grateful for all that God has done, is doing, and will do in and through you. 

We love you, 
Mom and Dad
(our letter was part of anna katherine's yearbook page) 


papa henry

one week ago from today  our phone rang at 3am. a ringing phone in the middle of the night is rarely a good thing.  it was my sister in law.  immediately i knew that this was a phone call you fear.  for the next several minutes, as emergency responders were with henry, my sister in law explained minute by minute the nightmare that was taking place 45 miles away. 

my father in law, henry, had gotten up in the middle of the night and collapsed. rhonda is a physical therapist who works in home health. she has an amazing ability to stay calm and think clearly, the opposite of me in these situations. so when she said it did not look good... i knew this was not good.
we waited together on the phone for ems to give us answers  i wanted to know "what" to tell jeff when i woke him up. soon another ambulance arrived. they were taking henry to the hospital. ems never gave us the answers we were waiting for. we later learned why.

jeff was in route when my sister in law called me back. she didn't want to give jeff the bad news while he was driving. the doctors at the hospital believed that when henry collapsed, he died immediately. there was nothing they could do.

the following days were a blur. within hours of his death, the family was sitting with a funeral director writing an obituary. we would attend graduation ceremonies and funeral ceremonies, some on the same day.  we live in small southern towns where the communities are tightly knitted. the outpouring of love and support was overwhelming. 

ruth is my mother in law by marriage. my goodness we love her to pieces! she has the kindest heart of anyone you will meet and this heart was truly grief stricken. we are so thankful for the support system she has in her daughter.

jeff and i agreed that one of the hardest parts of the entire week was reliving his mother's funeral 20 years ago. barbra was 57 when she died suddenly of a massive heart attack. the grief came flooding back with intensity. "she never got to" lists were endless. but i grieved that she never got to meet the granddaughters she longed for.

just like barbra's death, a few days after the funeral we were helping to get the house in order. a whirlwind of emotions accompany this process. 

henry will be missed by so many. we are thankful for the eighty full years he was blessed with. someone sent me this picture and i debated whether or not to share it. but the sight of the grandsons as pallbearers was a sweet sight in and awful situation.  

last commute

the school year is winding down... which means graduation is on the horizon. senior year is very different the second time around. with bennett it felt like a year of mourning... life would never be the same. i think i remained in this depressed state through september and then i realized... that our new normal wasn't all that bad. we look forward to to the times when we are all together.  our new normal means we do not take our time together for granted.

and it will be the same way when anna katherine leaves. she will be attending the same college as her brother. she is a huge football fan... so we may not see too much of her in the fall, but it is a warm feeling knowing that they are both in the same little town.

mary claire will be our "only child at home" she is already missing her sister.  they spend a lot of time together commuting to and from school. many sweet memories have been made during that 30 minute school commute. we will all feel anna katherine's absence, but mary claire might just feel it the most.

here they are, super early in the morning, making their last normal day commute!

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