Less than two years ago we found ourselves in Oklahoma, hearts both heavy and lightened as we celebrated the life of my sweet grandmother. She was spunky, hilarious, hard-working, tough, kind, generous. All things that I wish for myself to be someday. It was the first time my entire extended family had been together in well over a decade, and while the circumstances weren’t ideal I cherish those memories of the laughter and conversations I shared with them all.
This week it looks like we’ll be going back, this time to celebrate the life of my uncle Phil who we lost early Friday morning. I honestly have been at a loss for words the past couple of days; the last time I saw Phil he gave me a warm hug and said, “Hello, neice,” a familiar greeting that was always specific to him. He had a way of making it seem like we hadn’t spent years apart. He was always such a huge supporter, even from afar, a champion for our family in all of our chaos and uncertainty.
When we were growing up my sister and I would always beg our dad to tell us what we called “funny stories” before bedtime. They were funny because they evoked such laughter and fond memories from him, but also funny because two girls being raised in the suburbs of West Texas found the antics of Oklahoma farm boys to be a little crazy. Most of them had to do with him and his older brother, our uncle Phil, shooting BB guns at one another, peeing off things, tracking mud through my Grandma’s clean house, spraying one another with milk during milking time, and otherwise creating all manner of havoc together. It was the first time I ever heard of brothers being brothers, boys being boys. And those precious stories make my heart all the more excited for the chaos to ensue in our house soon.
I remember when Phil married Barbara, the beautiful wife he leaves behind for now, and I turned to my sister and said, “I think he’s met his match.” She’s hilarious, no-nonsense, incredibly smart, and one of the loveliest women I’ve ever met. I loved watching the way they loved one another and the way they embraced the other’s children, creating a true family together. My heart breaks when I think of what Barbara must be going through right now, and my heart longs to lock her in a huge hug that will come soon.
After many tears, lots of prayer, and time alone this weekend I’ve come to the very cliche and very true conclusion that life is short. There are no guarantees. And I hope that I can look back at my life and be satisfied that it was well-lived, but more than that I hope that others can look back at my life and see love, grace, hope, joy, and a whole lot of Jesus. So sweet friends? Hug your loved ones tight. Call them right now and tell them you love them. Be a cheerleader for hope. And don’t take any of it for granted.
Sending you so much love,