God has the Final say

In my post, “Miracles Happen”, I mentioned the fact that God has the final say. It’s true of life and death.  Just three days after writing that post our family would experience this reality firsthand.

On Sunday my Mom convinced Popaw to go with her and Ned to Hickory on Monday to visit his two sisters.  She reasoned with him by telling him that out of the three siblings he was much healthier and steady on his feet than his two younger sisters. He gave in and agreed to go.

Monday morning they picked him up from The Bridge.  He was complaining with heartburn, which is not unusual for him. It’s actually, as far back as I can remember, always a normal occurrence.  As the day drug on, so did his heartburn. Mom gave him some Tums. Then after eating a light lunch Judy, his niece gave him Pepcid because he said it had worsened.

By the time Mom returned from taking Aunt Bobbie back to her room. Popaw was pale, clammy and could not walk. Fairly certain he was having a heart attack, she got the address of the assisted living facility and called 911.

Promptly, EMS arrived and began working with him. Before putting him in the ambulance his pulse reading was 30.

Once they got him the hospital they had to    use the AED to shock his heart. According to the nurse who talked to Mom after, Popaw was not happy they used them.

Later when Mom talked with the doctor. He told her that a Popaw had suffered a “big” heart attack. They were able to use angioplasty; but stints would not stay in because his arteries are so hard.

He was kept in ICU overnight and moved to a regular room the next day. Released on Thursday and brought back here to Life Care.

The doctor was petty clear that Popaw’s fix is only temporary.  At some point his arteries will close back up and blood will not pass through, which will inevitably lead to death. The next time they won’t use paddles. He has a DNR. He actually had his DNR updated a week prior to his heart attack, only the hospital staff in Hickory had no idea.

You see, the thing about my Popaw is that he’s ready to go. He’s been ready to go for a very long time.

In fact, just three days prior to his heart attack, Sammy and I were visiting. (Picture above)  He and I were talking about the fact that MaMaw had been gone for 7 years.  He said, “Honey, I miss her more and more every day.  In fact my heart longs more and more to see her and  meet Jesus”.

Now, I’m not living under any false pretense that when my Popaw dies it’s going to be easy. It won’t. He’s been my constant, as constant as the stars in the sky or the sun that brightens the day or the moon that lights up the night sky.  My whole entire life he has been a source of great kindness, gentleness, humbleness, patience, meekness…. and a constant source of joy. There is no one on earth that will ever fill the shoes he leaves behind. Not one. But I am thankful. Thankful for the time I’ve had and oh, so thankful for the time still left here.

We are not promised tomorrow. God saw fit to give us a little more time. Maybe it’s to prepare our hearts. Maybe Popaw still has a life to touch. Maybe Jesus just hasn’t finished his place because He’s pretty clear that when our place is prepared, He will come for us. Whatever the reason, God will have the final say.

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.  Psalm 139;16NLT

Changing perspective

Last year when we moved Popaw from his house to The Bridge at Lake Point Landing.  It was a tough transition for him.

He was being taken from his home of 44 years and his independence was being seized right out from underneath him.

He had fought the idea, for a while, but it was finally apparent he could no longer safely remain by himself.  He knew it too and didn’t put up much of an argument about going.

He said, “I know it’s probably best.”

Move-in day came. A host of friends from Mom and Ned’s Sunday school Class came to help.

It was hard. Hard for him. Hard for mom. Hard for us all. It’s only the second or third time I’ve ever seen Popaw cry. It wasn’t the ugly loud cry. It was silent flow of tears rolling softly down his cheeks. It was heart wrenching!

After getting him settled, everyone left, well, everyone except me. For some strange reason, I decided to linger with him a little longer

He was flipping through channels as we were chatting.  He ran across some preacher who was talking about the Israelites.  He talked about how they had been taken from their homes, wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years and then God led them to the land of milk and honey

Popaw looked at me and said, “Well that’s exactly how I feel, everything’s been taken from me. My house.  My car.  Everything I’ve known for many years. I feel like I’m in the desert now. Then they bring me ice cream and it’s like God gave me my milk and honey.  Milk because ice cream is made with milk and honey because it’s sweet.”

I sat there thinking, “Wow!  What an incredible perspective.”

The truth is, that’s the way he always sees things.  He always finds the good in any situation.  His kind heart and gentle spirit give him the ability to look beyond even the most difficult of circumstances and find the good.

Sometimes my biggest problem is that I fail to look at things from a different perspective.  I see the negative and I stay there. I feel the weight of overwhelming circumstances. I feel the blows of life and fail to look for the good. The sad truth is when I fail to see the good, I most often times miss the blessing.

The truth that the Israelites learned while in the wilderness was that God’s provision was always there   Not only did he guide them a cloud  by day and a pillar of fire by    night.  He gave them food daily.  He took care of them.

Popaw has seen, felt and experienced the goodness and richness of God  He has experienced God’s ultimate protection and provision for a long time.  However, I believe the moment he was moved from his home, he felt empty.  He felt alone  He felt like a fish out of water.  But he determined not to look at all he’d lost.  He looked at what was ahead.  He chose to see the goodness of the Lord once again

 

Miracles happen

The picture above is the reason I know that prayer works.  It is effective.  It is powerful.  Miracles happen when people pray.

Look closely at the two men in the above picture.  One is Ned, my dad, who has lung cancer.  The other is my Uncle Howard who has colon cancer.  Both of these men are still, by God’s grace and through the effective prayers of His people, alive today.

If you will remember my earlier post, “The best $6.00 money could buy” was about my Uncle Howard.  Even when I wrote that post, it was uncertain what his future held.  I knew he had a desire to see his youngest grandson graduate from high school because during my visit with him, he told me so.  He just didn’t think he would live to see it happen.  Quite frankly, I don’t think anyone did.

Guess what?  He did get to see his grandson graduate.  Today.  He was there.  God gave him the desire of his heart and I’m so very thankful.  This is nothing short of a miracle.

And then there’s Ned.  His original diagnosis with lung cancer was 9-15 months with chemo treatments.  Guess what?  It’s been 15 months since chemo began.  Wait.  There’s more than that to the story.  Chemo began in March 2016.  We asked people to pray specifically that the chemo would deplete the fluid in his right lung.  It did.  In fact, after only 6 months of treatment, his lung was completely clear.  He was given a break from chemo and for the past 7 months. Every 8 weeks has been having CT scans to monitor his lungs and the possible return of cancer.

Sadly, the most recent CT scan showed cancer in the lymph node in the mediastinum.  This week he will begin a second line treatment that will consist of Keytruda, immunotherapy instead of chemotherapy.  The hope and prayer are the immunotherapy will thwart the growth and/or spread of the cancer as effectively as the chemotherapy with fewer side effects.

It is not by accident that these two men are still alive today.  It is because folks have been praying.  It is because God is a God of miracles and He is a God of love.  Also, He is a God who ordains our time and regardless of what statistics may say, God has the final say.

Every day is a miracle.  It is a gift.  Live in the miracle God gives you today and don’t get so caught up with tomorrow.  It may never come.

Steep and Long

Sometimes you just gotta go back home.

I did just that the other day.  I wound up in my hometown of Columbus, NC (more commonly known by the neighboring Tryon, NC).  I went with a purpose.

I went to cancel a venue and reclaim my deposit check due a location change.  Sure, I could’ve called the place holding my deposit and let them know the space was no longer needed.  That would’ve been the easy thing.  However, I’ve learned in life that face to face contact with folks is important.  Therefore, since they were considerate enough to give me leeway to cancel, I felt it was important to do it face to face.

My second purpose was to intentionally go and personally invite a former classmate to our reunion.  I wanted to make sure he knew.  Again, I had an address for him and  easily sent an invitation.  Why the personal invitation?  Why not?  I knew precisely where he worked and it was not out of my way.  Besides, sometimes seeing a familiar face and receiving a more personal invitation makes you know your presence is welcome and wanted.

After taking care of the two main priorities, I decided to go make another appearance in an attempt to reconnect with an old classmate.  The particular classmate lived in our neighborhood and just so happens that his mom still lives in the same house.

But first, I had to drive by my old house.  I do this each time I go to Columbus.  The drive-by.  So much has changed in the neighborhood.  Quite a few more houses.  Our house looks about the same.  The driveway….ah, yes the driveway still long and steep.  I actually had two accidents on that driveway.  One on my shiny, brand new 10 speed bicycle.  The other, in my little 1982 Honda Accord and I wasn’t even in the car.  I failed to get the car over the lip on car port.  Left the car in neutral because I was running in to grab stuff then run back out.  When I got out the car had left its spot, rolled down the driveway and the bumper hit a tree.  Funny part was, the bumper hit in the dead center, so it looked like a big “V” in the back.

Luckily, Ms. Barbara was home.  She didn’t recognize me at first.  I was afraid to ask and maybe I just didn’t want to know.  At any rate, we visited for a while and I learned that my former classmate and friend is doing well which made my heart happy.  I told her we were doing a 30 year class reunion and told her frankly, “I’m sure he won’t come.  I just want to make sure he knows, just in case.”

Why in the world when I usually take a more positive view would I even be somewhat negative?

I knew my friend didn’t have the best experience in high school.  My friend was taunted by others, some who even pretended to be his friend. .  He was made fun of, mainly because he was different.  He was different. He was highly intelligent He was different because when all the rest of us were out having fun, romping around, hanging out, partying.  He was at home.  Not only because he made a choice not to do those things, but also because he was always working.  His dad made him work.  Doing odd jobs around the house was a constant.  Mowing his yard.  He worked while we played and that made him different.  That made him an outcast.

I really hope I get to see my friend one day.  I doubt it will ever be at a class reunion and honestly, I don’t blame him.  I get it.  I saw his hurt.  Although, he tried to pretend it didn’t bother him it did.  Also, as a parent I’ve watching and seen the same thing to happen to a couple of my children. Sad, but true, they’ll probably never go to their high school reunions either.

You see, driving by my old house and looking at the changes are always exciting but some things don’t change, just like that driveway.  Steep and long.  Words can have a powerful effect on folks.  The hurt can be steep and the pain can be long. It’s why we need to choose our words carefully and wisely.  Once spoken they can never be taken back.  “Words can inspire. And words can destroy.  Choose yours well.”  Robin Sharma

Pocket Mouse Goes to Church

Would you believe me if I told you that my mom was a Tom boy when she was young?  Most of you, who know her, are probably scratching your heads wondering if we’re talking about the same person. It true. It’s truer than true.

First of all, she loved fishing with her daddy.   She would grab the fishing poles and beg him to take her. It didn’t take much convincing on his part since he loved spending time with her. She would even bait the hooks and remove the fish. I think the only think she wouldn’t do was clean fish.

She loved the outdoors. Climbing trees. Running and frolicking about.

She also loved the encyclopedia. It was her best friend because she loved to hunt animals. My grandmother said it always concerned her to come home and see the encyclopedia open, lying on the ground.  she never knew what my Mom would bring home

One time she went hunting for field mice. She found a mouse. Brought it home. Played with it. Freaked my grandmother out.  Then she told her to get rid of the mouse because they needed to get ready for Wednesday night church.

During the church service Mom was sitting a row or two in front of my grandmother with her friends.  My grandmother noticed the other girls were wiggly and squirmy. Her words to me, “There was my little Annie sitting quiet and still. I was so proud of her.”

When church was over, she discovered that “her little Annie” had taken the mouse to church, in the pocket of her sweater. She was sitting between several girls so she could take the mouse out of her pocket.  Stick it out in front of the girls causing a raucous among them and making her look like a little angel.

It embarrassed my grandmother to think that my Mom had caused such a scene in church.

The truth is, as parents, we all get embarrassed by our children’s behavior.  One minute we can have the proud parent moment and the next they let us down   It’s how we respond that will make the biggest difference in their lives

Do you say things like, “I can’t believe you did this!  Do you realize how bad this looks on me   What are people going to say about me and what kind of parent I am?”

Or do you say, “I’m really surprised by your behavior and it saddens me.  I love you, in spite of what you’ve done.”

One response makes it about us and puts all the responsibility of the choice back on them.

You can’t make their behavior or poor choices about you. It’s not. It’s about them.  It’s extremely freeing, as a parent, when you realize thi

Choosing Wisely

It’s funny how the order of things sometimes gets confusing.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve realized that a lot of folks think Alex, my third child, is actually the youngest. Well, he’s not.  Alex just made a different choice about higher education after high school.

Alex’s senior year of high school was filled with aspiring thoughts of playing collegiate golf. It was his dream. He was, in fact, given the opportunity to walk-on at Brevard college. However, a few weeks before the start of school, Alex informed us that he knew Brevard college was not the place for him and he couldn’t go to a school just to play a sport he loved. Hence, the decision to attend Blue Ridge Community College.

After his Freshman year, he was burned out. Begged us to allow him to take at least a semester off so he could work full-time .

Together, we decided the better choice was to go part-time, work and play golf. Part-time would keep him in the groove but allow him some time to refocus and figure out what he really wanted to do. It worked.

By the end of his second year, He decided to pursue a degree in business. All the while, making sure his classes would transfer to a university.

A few months ago, he received and acceptance letter to Clemson and UNC Charlotte . The only two schools he applied to.  After thoughtful prayer and consideration, he made his decision to attend UNCC.

Here’s what he had to say about that decision:

Since I’ve had numerous people asking me about my future school plans, here’s an update:

I’ve decided to attend UNC-Charlotte this upcoming fall. While I did really consider enrolling into Clemson, I’ve felt led, due to numerous factors, to attend Charlotte.

It’s been one heck of a ride since I got out of high school and at times has been fairly directionless. In May, I will graduate from Blue Ridge Community College with an associates degree. Now, would I change the path that I chose? Absolutely not. Honestly, I would really like to urge high school seniors that are unsure of their future plans to pursue this route. The benefits are astounding and there is no shame in attending a local community college.

This process, at times, has been quite the struggle… and at other times very rewarding. I cannot wait to see where God leads me on this next journey of my life.

Two days ago, he brought home his cap and gown. He will be graduating on May 13th and we are thrilled for him. He has chosen a different path but one that was wise for him.

One of my favorite quotes from The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst is, “Wisdom makes decisions today that are still good for tomorrow.”  Alex has used wisdom to make good decisions for himself and the dividends will be huge

I am so proud of this young man and his ability to think and reason through choices. He will be the first one in our family to actually hold a degree of some sort.  Like I’ve recently said to both Ryan and Matthew, “Bout time somebody gets a degree of some sort in our family. “.

Dear Matthew

Today is no different from any other day. I think of you often, maybe more than I should, but being your mom gives me that right and privilege.  Besides, I can just because I can.

As I was walking along this morning, I noticed squirrels playing around trees and one took off, scurried up a tree with the other one not far behind, climbing another tree.  Determined the one was not going to do something without the other. Watching them scurry about reminded me of when you and Ryan were little.  You always wanted to be where he was and doing whatever he was doing.  You actually contrived in your little noggin that you were as big as he was and you should be able to do everything he could.

For example, when you were barely 4 and he was almost 6, you were angry because be could tie his own shoes and you couldn’t. Boy, did you put your heart and soul into learning how to tie your shoes. One particular morning,  you promptly descended from the car as normal and headed up the stairs to go into preschool. As I looked back to watch you walk up the stairs, I noticed you stopped abruptly. Plopping yourself smack in the middle of the stairwell because your shoe was untied and you were determined to tie it. Knowing full well how this would end, I pulled my car into a parking space and headed over to you.  The frustration meltdown had already begun, tears bursting from the sides of your eyes and the look of sheer defeat on your face.  You said, “I’ll never learn how to tie my shoe.  Never. Never. Never.”  Finally, when you calmed down and took your time, you were able to tie your shoe. Sobs of defeat had turned into cheers of jubilation.  “I did it.  I did it.  I can tie my shoes just like Ryan.”

Sometimes, I didn’t know if it was your stubbornness or sheer determination that always propelled you to excel at anything you set your mind to, maybe a combination of both.  Your stubbornness gave you the drive and your determination saw it through completion.  So, it’s no wonder that you are where you are today.

You have such a big kind heart for people, especially your family.  You have always made time to cultivate and maintain relationships with all you love. I remember last year when Papaw found out he had Stage 4 lung cancer.  You knew you were going to be out to sea for awhile and you also knew his prognosis wasn’t promising.  You struggled to decide whether to come home or just wait it out.  During one of our conversations you said, “Mom, it’s Papaw.  He’s a fighter and I know he’ll fight this but statics are not in his favor.  So, I’ve decided that I am going to come home because I won’t regret it either way.  If something happens to him while I’m gone, I’ve seen him.  If it doesn’t that’s even better.”  Thankfully your XO pulled all the stops and got leave approved so you could come home.  What a blessing it was for us all.  Your presence is like a soothing balm or like a warm blanket on a bitterly cold day.

You have such a gift for bringing joy and entertainment.  As a child you constantly wanted me to entertain you because you were always bored.  In your mind, you fashioned me as your ticket for entertainment.   Remember that one time, when you were probably 9 or 10  and I looked at you and said, “Matthew, God put me on this earth to entertain you.  He put me here to love and take care of you.  If you want to be entertained, go entertain yourself.”  As always, you took me very literally because that how your mind works.  By the time you were 15, you were entertaining folks with your amazing magic card tricks.  You worked hard and diligently to train yourself.  In fact, you entertained many folks at Ci-Ci’s pizza on Monday evenings, landed a few gigs for Relay for Life and even got yourself a nice write-up in the Times-News.  Ironically,  the one who wanted to be entertained became the entertainer.

Your passion for God and people always fascinated me. You always took up for the underdog.  You always sought out those who seemed helpless. You were always, always comfortable in your own skin and you never shied away from sharing your faith.  You didn’t have to follow the crowd.  You could lead one.  I don’t even think you realize the difference you made in the life of others.  I sure hope they tell you one day.  I know you’ve made a big difference in mine.

You always had a knack for seeing beauty in everything, you always took time to smell the flowers.

Your adventurous spirit has taken you to many places in Europe and even Australia, not on Navy time.  You even took a helicopter ride to the Great Barrier Reef and swam with the sharks and bungee jumped at one of the scariest places I’ve ever seen.  Survived it all. Fully anticipating the next great adventure.

And now, you’re on one of the biggest adventures of your life.  A deployment.  I don’t even know where you are and probably don’t want to know.   I know you’re in deep, deep waters and I know there is a level of safety there.  Here’s what I am sure of….”You will never go where God is not.”  Max Lucado  Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “The Lord himself goes before you and he will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Which is the reason for my hope.  I’m not just clinging to a lofty idea, I am hanging on every word of God because I know it to be Truth.

So, while I wait and hope and pray, believing that God has you “engraved in the palms of his hands” Isaiah 49:16 and , “The Lord himself watches over you!  The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.” Psalms 121:5

When you read this, which won’t be until you’re in port or finished with deployment and wonder why in the world I didn’t send it directly to you.  First, it’s far too long for an email.  They’re suppose to be short.  Second, I could simply print it off and mail it to you, but who knows how long that would take to get to you.  Simply put, I want to make sure as soon as your feet hit dry ground you know how deeply loved and special and unique you are and it’s really ok in book, if others know that too.  Besides, let’s go back to Ryan’s infamous quote, “Because I can.  That’s why.”

Also I want to give to hope to other mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, children etc that there is this crazy mom in North Carolina who prays for their loved ones the same way I pray for you.  Not only do I pray for their loved ones, but I pray also for them because I know what it’s like to want a word.  One word just to know all is well.  It’s called praying strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.

And so today, will end like every short version of my email.  Guess what?  Today is one day closer till I get to see your face again.  That makes my heart very happy.

I love you,

Mom

 

 

You never know what he’s gonna say

Have you ever been around someone who just spouts something and you’re not sure if they’re serious or not?

I have!  I married one. I’m not kidding when I say I can’t believe some of the things he says.  Mostly it’s just so comical, I laugh at him.

The funniest part is watching the reactions of people when they’re not sure if he’s serious or not.  Believe me, most times he’s not serious, he likes to see the reaction

Case in point, a few weeks ago we stopped by Black Coffee Shop in Tryon, NC   Our initial intent was to get coffee; however plans changed as we looked at the menu.

Remembering that Alex had visited there a few weeks prior and had raved about the smoothies,  I knew that’s what I wanted.  Terry and Amy followed suit and ordered smoothies as well

I noticed Terry spying the yummy looking baked goods in the case.  Then it happened, out of the clear blue, pointing at the cookies, he said to the gal behind the counter, “Do you think you could give me one of those and let me nibble it like a rat nibbles on cheese?”

She looked at him, not sure how to respond, then gave a little smile and said, “I could give you  sample.”

At this point, I am trying to hold myself together to keep from disturbing the peace.

He did his signature chuckle and said, “Nah, that’s ok but I will take the bear-claw.”

Sometimes, he is hard to read.  It’s hard to tell when he’s being serious or joking.  The dude can keep an arrow straight face.  Beats all I’ve ever seen.  However, when you’ve been around him long enough, you can tell.  You know when he’s serious and when he’s not.

I told you in an earlier blog that he doesn’t shy away from confrontation.  He will call a spade a spade.  He calls it like he sees it.  The only difference is that he does it with this chuckle, which helps to ease his words.

There’s just something about him and the way he is that makes me love him more.  It’s difficult for me to stay angry with him for any length of time, mostly because he’ll say or do something to ease the tension.  It’s the same characteristics that make others love him and want to be around him.  He’s consistently the same.

There’s something very special and unique about his personality.  It’s a very rare trait in today’s society where everyone is trying to fit in with the crowd or trying to impress someone for the first time.

Honestly, I find myself trying to be more like him  I want to be real with people  I don’t want to be something I’m not.  It’s farther exhausting.  Besides, if you have to pretend to be something you’re not, is it even worth the pursuit of a friendship?  I think not

Dr. Seuss had it completely right when he said, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

God’s word tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  In fact just take a look at how Eugene Patterson translates the following scripture

“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:13-16‬ ‭MSG‬‬

 

 

 

 

Grandma Reese

Sassy, sweet and not afraid to work her hands to the bone and love in action is how I would describe her.

Her sass gave her the ability to walk through some of life’s most difficulties and the ability to raise seven children

Her sweetness gave her the ability to dote on and love her grandchildren and great grands.

Her hard work ethic gave her the ability to always provide for her family.  While she didn’t work outside the home; her hard work was done in the home.  She was a green thumb when it came to gardening and fabulous cook.  She could whip up a meal in no time flat.  She could quilt, mend, and make her own clothes.  Truly, she could do just about anything but drive

Life would throw her some curve balls so she had to be able to handle them.

My grandfather joined the Navy during World War II and left her and four young boys behind.  She told me, “Every day I would get those boys up before dawn and take them outside to help me.”

She knew the pain of losing a baby but she knew the joy of having a quiver full.

I believe one of her most difficult trials came when my daddy died.  Often she would say to me, “I never thought I would have to bury a child.  I always thought I would go first.”

She would tell me about the pain and agony he was in and how it broke her heart to see him that way.  But she was quick to always say,  “The smile never left his face.”

She knew the heartache of losing her beloved.  My grandfather died in 1991 and she would live as a widow for the next 18 years.

She knew the joy of grandchildren.  She had nineteen.  She loved us all well.  She enjoyed having us in bunches or individually.  She didn’t care how many or how few.  In her mind there was always room for one more.

She even had the privilege of knowing most of her great grandchildren!

Oh, how I loved her and spending time with her.  If I would call her ahead of time ,she would always cook a pot of green beans for me.  She knew they were my favorite.  If I didn’t call and just showed up; she’d rummage around in the basement and bring up a quart or two of green beans and insist I stay and eat.  That was her way!  Always enough and more than enough.

Today is her special day!  It’s the day of her birth!  She celebrates 101  in heaven and I’ll celebrate her on earth.  Happy birthday, Grandma!

Sally Clark Reese   April 15, 2017-August 17,2009

Just a little more….

When Jason Aldean released, “A little more summertime,” I’ll bet he had no idea that a woman would well up in tears at the thought of her baby girl leaving for college.  The song triggered every emotion in me. Every stinking time I heard that song, I found myself wishing for just a little more.

The previous years had always been in anticipation of the next year.  Excitement about the beginning of tennis season, football games, Yogurt World, track meets and more track meets and more track meets.

Last year, especially around this time, I found myself looking back and wanting more, wishing it would last just a little bit longer.  Wishing it didn’t have to end.  It did have to end and I knew it.  I just didn’t want it to end.

It’s really paradoxical in a way because for years leading up to Amy’s graduation, I always told people how excited I would be to send her off to college.  Not that I was trying to shove her out of the house, I just knew she was ready and I knew we had prepared her to leave.  I was thrilled about it.  Then something very strange and quite unexpected happened, I began to feel sad.

The first time it hit me was during Homecoming.  She was crowned Homecoming Queen and I realized that would be the last time I would see her on the football field in a dress.  I really didn’t think too much about it but then it happened again at the end of tennis season.  I was washing her uniform after the final tennis match and an overwhelming sadness washed over me like a tidal wave.  Again, I brushed it aside.  Time and again, after every thing ended, I found myself with this empty feeling in my gut.  I wanted more.  Just one more.  One more tennis match, one more track meet, one more year…..

Finally, one day over the summer I found myself seeing memories of Amy in everything that belonged to her.  Everything I saw I could associate with some memory and then the longing in the pit of my stomach for just one more.  It was strange.  It wasn’t like I dwelt on these things or even looked for things to trigger memories.  It just happened. Kind of took me by surprise.  I definitely had not planned nor prepared for such crazy feelings.

Right before she left for college, Terry and I were having a conversation.  Our famous morning coffee talk. (I highly recommend these if you don’t already have them with your spouse or significant other)  I was just sharing with him all the crazy I was feeling.  He knew most of it but I kept saying, “I just keep wanting one more.”

He looked at me and said, “You can’t have one more.  Besides, if you had one more it would never be as good as the first time around.  Think about it.  She had a fantastic year this past year.  If you did it all over again, it would never be the same.  The outcome would be different.  Instead of feeling sad that it’s over be happy that you got to be a part of it.”

He was right.  I knew it.  I hate when he’s right.  His nugget of wisdom proved to be the best advice I received.  It’s not really what I wanted to hear.  It’s what I needed to hear. I needed to quit pining for the past, I needed to take joy and delight in my experiences with her and begin to look forward to her new adventure.

For those of you who’ve been there, you may have walked a similar path.  Maybe not.  Some of you are there, right in the thick of it.  Let me encourage you, enjoy every single moment you can.  Relish it.  Cling to it.  Embrace it.  Know soon and very soon, you’ll have to give them wings to fly.  You will be ok and so will they.  For some it will come with ease and others it will take time.  Don’t be hard on yourself if it takes you a little longer.  Just remember:  you can’t turn back the hands of time.  Time marches on and so must we.