It’s never easy letting go of those we love. My Grandma, one of my most favorite people on the planet, passed away the evening of March 21st at 96 years young. I’ve spent the last week reflecting, grieving, looking through mounds of photos, and explaining loss to our kids. This past weekend our family gathered to remember her and say our goodbyes. Being back in her part of the country was difficult knowing now, she was not there.
It’s so ironic, my last post was about welcoming my new niece, about the joy of new life, and then two weeks later we got a call saying our Grandma was gone. Life comes. Life goes. And then there’s also that big space in between. This verse in James keeps coming to the forefront of my mind…
Jam 4:14 “Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”
We don’t know what tomorrow may bring, but we are gifted with today. Thinking of all that my Grandma witnessed in nearly a century of life completely boggles my mind. And yet if I could ask her anything I think it would pertain to matters of the heart and soul…those things that no one knows and she took with her. Did she feel fulfilled in this life? What was her happiest memory? What was her biggest regret? How would she want us to remember her? What was the most significant life lesson she would want passed on? I find myself examining my life and thinking about my own answers to these questions if my end were nigh. I’ve also been reminding myself, “I still have the chance to change those answers,” and then contemplating, what can I improve–today? If I were to live to be 96, what would I want to look back and see?
I’m so thankful for the long life of my Grandmother. I’m so thankful for the years I could listen to her many stories. She was blessed with the most incredible mind all the way to the end. I’m so thankful my children could grow knowing their fiery, big-hearted, eccentric Great-Grandma who was the definition of perseverance and determination.
I also want to say “thank you” for all the sweet words from so many people who have reached out to me. Some of you I know well, and some of you are complete strangers, but in one way or anther we all can relate. We are humans. We are frail. We all need to grieve. And then the time comes when we pick ourselves back up. We gather the cherished memories in our hearts and minds, and find our joy and strength once more. We journey on, through this short and precious time we have–the time between life and death.
I’ve been wondering how in the world I was going to put this into words, and I’ve spent my morning trying to do so. The labor and birthing process is incredibly sacred, and that time between a couple is one of the most intimate life experiences one can have. As such, it was an immense honor that my sister and her husband asked me to be a support and document the birth of their first child. I did, and am forever changed. Childbirth is nothing new to me–I was a childbirth educator and doula before a photographer–but none moved me so deeply as beholding my sister and her husband, their individual strengths and love for one another.
I saw my sister pushed to limits beyond what I’ve ever witnessed in a laboring woman. I saw a husband so empathetic, tears in his eyes, proudly proclaiming how blessed he is to have my precious sister for his wife.
The three of us were in a hospital together for four days, one of which was their 3rd wedding anniversary. We laughed, watched American Idol, HGTV, prayed, waited, were forced to make decisions, coached, cried, and grew more closely. I saw a beautiful piece of my brother-in-law through my sister’s eyes, and I think he saw me more through her’s. What an unexpected trial it was, with the most precious outcome possible–Lilah Jane McIntosh.
Weighing in at 8lbs. 12 ozs. the sweet girl entered this world (25 days past her due date) at 3:57am, on March 8th, 2013. She was instantly loved by overjoyed (but ridiculously tired) parents, and an aunt crying so hard she could hardly focus her camera.
Here’s a piece of the story through my eyes…and listen closely to the second song. During her pregnancy, Ashley and our brother Billy did a cover of “Forever Young.”