12.16.2014 ~ The Road Not Taken

You can see love.  There’s just something – a buzz, a heat, a fire – that you can always seem to tell surrounds two people who are deeply and truly, madly in love.

You can see family.  The grandmother who pitches in and babysits to give her own child a little respite from the daily grind of motherhood, the father sitting at the head of the dinner table asking his family to bow their heads in prayer, the teenage daughter that shrilly yells, “I hate you!” when she’s told for the millionth time, “No, you can NOT date that boy!”

And you can see friendship.  This is what it looks like…

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It’s really hard to make friends as you get older.  Sure, you meet all kinds of people, have all sorts of acquaintances.  You might have a cup of coffee with them once in a while, or have them over for dinner parties.  You might have lunch with them once a week, or go hiking with them once a month.

But I’m talking about REAL friends, not situational friends – the soul sisters, the ride-or-dies, the women you meet where there is just an explosion of friend chemistry and you can’t imagine what your life would ever be without them.

The sad fact is, as you get older, your priorities change, schedules become tighter, and you often become pickier about the kind of people you choose to be in your life.  While we were all too ready to explore every avenue of friendship in our teens and twenties, it seems after thirty, the era of making BFFs pretty much comes to end.

But on those rare occasions, you might just be open enough to that chance, to that wonderful possibility.  Maybe like me, you’ve just experienced a huge life change, and there’s a brief moment where you realize, I could use a friend.

When I met Brittany, I honestly didn’t know how much she would end up meaning to me.  First, we were colleagues, then we were work BFFs, then suddenly, she was cuddled up next to me on a Friday night while watching Merry Friggin’ Christmas, scarfing down a Hotties pizza, and ranting about the thoroughly stupid things that the men in our lives were doing at the time.

She’s not just any old friend, she’s a best friend.  And she’s leaving me!

God bless her, just when I realize I can’t live without her, this child decides she wants to move to Portland.  And you know what?  As much as I’ll miss her, I know she’s got to go.  Because I am living proof that taking a journey into the unknown can be the greatest thing that could ever happen to a person.

So, this one is for you, babe.  I love you.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost

 

 

 

12.14.2014 ~ Dating After Divorce, Part Two: First Dates

Let’s talk about first dates for a minute.  First dates, generally, suck.

You’re filled with anxiety and the need to be on your “best behavior”, which really means you try to be “a you” that doesn’t exist in real life.  You go through a great deal of trouble simply preparing for the date, and you do so not even knowing if the person you’ll be spending a few hours with that night will even be someone you see again after it’s all said and done with.  Every first date is a risk, and taking risks is scary.

Since my divorce, I’ve taken a few risks.  And in doing so, I have had both the worst first date of my life, and the best first date in my entire life (so far).

THE WORST…

I went on a dinner date recently with this guy named Elijah.  He was a handsome guy, a standup comedian by trade, and he seemed, at first glance, to be a completely normal human male.  God, was I wrong…so epically wrong!

After about forty five minutes into the date, I realized Elijah was an arrogant, over-bearing, over-the-top, damn near militant asshole.  Everything he said was law.  If he made some grand observation about life, and I tried to engage in the dialogue, he would tell me I was wrong or I didn’t understand the issue.  And then he would start trying to touch me, kiss me even, like he earned that right just by showing up.  The guy made my skin crawl in every possible way.

Finally, when I had cringed I don’t know how many times at his physical advances, he asked me, “Aren’t you attracted to me?”  I told him that physically, I thought he was handsome, but I just didn’t think our personalities were matched.  And this subtle rejection, apparently, touched some kind of nerve because the next thing out of his mouth was, “You know what?  That’s the problem with you white women dating black men.  You find a REAL black man with an opinion and you don’t want him.”

I looked at the guy for about thirty seconds and did the only thing that made sense to me at the time.  I got in my purse, took $20 out of my wallet, stood up, put the money on the table, and said, “This is for my dinner.  It was nice to meet you.”  And I walked away.

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I still don’t understand how or why I did it.  God knows I’ve never done anything like that in my life.  A younger version of me likely would have stuck it out, tried to make something out of nothing.  I could say that I reacted that way because it was just a little too soon after John, but honestly, I think I’ve just reached a point in my life where I can’t tolerate the bullshit.  Plus…the guy was just a dick.

THE BEST…

We can now rewind to the not-so-distant past to a not-so-average Friday night in the month of June.  Later, John and I would joke that our first date was really like three dates wrapped into one.  And it was kind of true, we certainly did meander around Hacienda Heights like we both had ADD and couldn’t decide what we wanted to do.

Dinner at a Chinese place, a quick drink at Outback, and a night of pool, dancing and new friends at a surprisingly amazing dive bar found on Yelp…these are the places, the activities.  I know it doesn’t sound like much, but what I realized about that night was that it wasn’t some epic first date because of what we did, or where we found ourselves.  It was an epic first date because of how we made one another feel.

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John was funny, smart, kind, a perfect gentleman and a million other wonderful things.  And the way he looked at me, it was like he had found the most spectacular thing in the world and he couldn’t believe how lucky he was to have discovered it.

If I’m at all honest with myself, I have to say I felt the same.  I just can’t even begin to describe what was going on in my head and heart at the time.  I wasn’t expecting to feel that way about someone, and especially not on a first date!  I mean, does that even happen in real life?  Can you fall for someone the first day you meet them?  Is that allowed of a grown adult with complete common sense?

I don’t really have the answers to those questions.  But what I do know for sure is that when the night came to its inevitable close, John said something to me that I’ll never forget.  It’s one of those things, it seems kind of crazy as I think about it now. He looked me straight in my eyes, and with that little smirk that he always seemed to have, he said, “I know this may sound weird, but, I don’t want you to date anyone else.”

And I didn’t.

12.12.2014 ~ Home, Home, Who’s Got A Home?

I sit at a table by the pool bar at The Atrium Hotel waiting for my dad.  We’re meeting up for happy hour as we often do.  It’s a Tuesday, and he won’t be there until six.  I get off at five so I typically go ahead to the bar, order a beer and some food, and fiddle around on my phone until he arrives.

I’ve come to learn to leave half of my food for him.  Because although he says he’s already eaten, he’ll nibble on anything that I have ordered.  Plus, if he eats too, then I don’t feel so bad about putting the drink and the food on his tab.  The bartenders know us there, so they don’t even give it a second thought when I say with a little smile, “Dad’s buying.”

When he arrives on this particular Tuesday, he looks a little weary, and there seems to be one thing he wants to know – how was my trip home to Kansas City?

He tells me he was worried.  He said he read my last blog post before leaving on the trip, and he sat there wondering the whole time I was gone whether going home would sway me to return.

The thing that is truly funny about this situation is that the ONE thing that I really wanted to tell my dad that Tuesday was that I know now, completely, that moving to California was the exact right thing to do.

Because it wasn’t until I went home to Kansas City that I could really see how much my life there was over.  This feeling has nothing to do with my family.  I still miss my mom, my sister, my niece and my nephew.  I will always want them in my life, and when they are far away, I feel their absence deeply.

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No, this feeling comes from realizing that there is no real LIFE for me in Kansas City anymore.  My real life is here.  I am vibrant here in this life; I shine here in this life.  I feel full in this life.  I’ve sat down at the table, and I’ve gorged myself.  But rather than feeling heavy and weary, I am energized by my insatiable appetite for this life.

And knowing this gives me a thought…there is more than one kind of home.  Home can be where your heart is, home can be where your life is, home can simply be anywhere where you feel safe and loved.   Tonight, as I write this, I am grateful to have so many places that I can call home.

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12.9.2014 ~ Taking The Scenic Route…

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“Who am I?” you ask.
What kind of girl might I be?
I’m the kind of girl
Who likes Wu-Tang AND Seinfeld.
I’m the kind of girl
With a bottle opener as a keychain.
I’m the kind of girl
To quote Bukowski and tattoo it on her body.
I’m the kind of girl
With a hundred pairs of shoes,
And only wears about five of them regularly.
I’m the kind of girl
With just as many dresses,
And now has them interred in a box in the corner.
Because it’s a little known fact among men,
Women can only wear a dress once,
Then that love affair is over.
I’m the kind of girl with a scenic soul.
You’ll miss too much if you come straight to the point.
Take the long way ‘round,
You’ll never know what you’ll find.
Cause I’m the kind of girl worth the trouble,
The kind of girl that you won’t mind,
Getting lost in my eyes, or my heart, or my rambling.
And if we find ourselves by the side of the road,
No worries.
You have to be lost first in order to get found.

 

 

11.26.2014 ~ I Don’t Know How To Do The Holidays…

Today I go home to Kansas City for the first time since I made the move to California.  In a weird and unplanned twist, it marks six months to the day that I first arrived and became a resident of Southern California.

I have accomplished a lot in these past six months, but I have to admit to myself that the one thing that I haven’t done is completely come to terms with the life that I left behind.

This is clear by the notable fear and anxiety that I have about returning home.  Yes, I am entirely excited about seeing my family.  The relationship I had developed with my mother and cherished so dearly has been replaced with weekly phone calls that don’t come anywhere near replacing what role she played in my life in Kansas City.  I miss her.  My heart still breaks when I think about how much a simple hug from her could change my entire day, and then quickly realize that I have to find my own way to comfort.

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When I left Kansas City, I know there were some that said, “Well, she’s just running away!”  And at the time, I thought, “Well, ya’ll just keep drinking the Haterade!”

But, you know what?  Now that I really think about it, there is SOME truth to that.  By leaving Kansas City, by leaving my family, by leaving everything that would ever remind me of my ex-husband and our life together, it made it very easy for me to minimize my pain and sorrow.  No matter how happy I am about going home, I know that this trip is going to be painful in many different ways.

If I was still in Kansas City, if I was still married to Haywood, I would be preparing for Thanksgiving dinner in the Jackson home on 38th Street right now.  The 38th Street house was my dream home, and it was with the greatest pride as a wife, a daughter, a sister, and an aunt that I welcomed my family into our home each Thanksgiving for several years.

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I loved the holidays, and I especially loved them as I shared them with my family.  As the full holiday season approaches this year and I head home today, I realize I don’t know how to do this.  I don’t know how to do the holidays anymore.

I don’t know how to do the holidays as a single woman.  I don’t know how to do the holidays as a visiting family member.  I don’t know how to do the holidays and not think about Haywood.  I don’t know how to do the holidays and not think about all that has been lost.  I don’t know how to do the holidays, and not be completely afraid of missing all the wonderful things that I used to be a part of.

I guess, in the end, it doesn’t matter how far you go if your heart still cherishes the memory of something you once held so dear.

 

11.24.2014 ~ Ojai: Finding A Little Sanctuary

While I was all too excited to catch up with Steve this past weekend and head to the theater to see Dumb and Dumber To, he had to reschedule and that left me with a little bit of a hole in my weekend plans.

As fate would have it, I was extended an invitation to road trip up to Ojai, California, with my darling Brittany M. as she was going to housesit for her aunt.

Ojai is famously stunning country, just about 30 minutes north of Ventura in Ventura County.  I had never been before, and since Brittany’s time in California is now running short, I couldn’t help but think that there was no better way to spend the time.

The ride up to Ojai did not disappoint, as the sun shone down on the sprawling hills, mountains, and farm land, covered in the most brilliant greenery that set perfectly against the most brilliant blue sky.

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It’s time like these that I realize I can’t get enough of California, and I now know what it means when I’ve heard so many Californians say that they are spoiled.  Between the fabulous weather and the beauty at every turn, you have to understand that not everyone wakes up each day and gets to see the things that we see, to feel the things that we feel.

Yeah, sure, it’s easy to forget at times, what with the hustle and bustle of the day and the trials and tribulations of a normal life.  I mean, most of us still work and it’s not like we’re always sitting by the beach with a Corona in hand.  But when you do get the chance to have moments like these, the real beauty of California and all it has to offer comes back to you.  And you see that whenever you are in need, sanctuary is never too very far away at all.

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11.16.2014 ~ I Keep Going To The Ocean To Pray…

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I keep going to the ocean to pray,
Not really sure why,
Maybe just to remind myself
That there is something out there,
Something bigger than me.
Something more important.
A thing more vital to the world
Than the musings of my heart,
And the ramblings of my mind.
It humbles me, I think,
To stare out into its vast expanse,
Ever-changing, ever-wandering,
And realize that God made
This magnificent thing,
Just like he made me.  You see,
It’s not the ocean that humbles me.
It’s not its size,
It’s not its mass,
Or even its sheer power,
But God’s that overwhelms me.
It’s his plan, and his purpose.
And in these moments,
Where I feel powerless,
Where I feel abused and abandoned,
I can go to the water’s edge,
I can stand with my kin,
And we can be one,
In the sheer wonder of our Creator.

11.14.2014 ~ Kim Kardashian & The Body Confidence Movement: Why We’re All Failing Miserably…

While they did not succeed in their goal to “Break the Internet,” Paper Magazine sure did get a lot of people talking with their recent Kim Kardashian oiled-up rump cover, and they’ve made themselves a nice little chunk of change in the process.

I wasn’t going to say anything about it.  My original thought was, “I don’t want to give this woman any more publicity than she’s already gotten.”  But, I realized something important while I was reading all about the racial implications of the cover image, and what her entire spread truly means for the magazine industry.  I realized that there is a perspective, a unique perspective that I have, that no one is talking about.

The Body Confidence Movement is REAL.  It’s a living, breathing, tangible thing that means something extremely important to millions of women across the globe.  You can’t Google it and find its founder, or its origination.  No one really knows how it all started.  All most of us really know is that sometime a few years ago, big, curvy, and beautiful women (mostly plus size bloggers) began to stand up and say, “Hey!  I’m here!  And I’m beautiful!  Screw you for saying otherwise!!!!!”

We found that we had an amazing appetite for life and happiness, and all the fat shaming and photoshopped ideals of women that couldn’t possibly exist in the real world were leaving a real shitty taste in our mouths.

I believe in THAT movement.  I believe in THOSE women – those soldiers of the impossible curves, those muffin-topped matadors, those patriots of pretty, at any size.

Kim Kardashian is not a part of that movement.

No, Kim Kardashian is not plus size, I’m not saying that she is.  And I’m also not saying that she’s not an absolutely beautiful woman.  What I am saying is that her willingness to appear naked wherever she goes is being mistaken for the same kind of heroism that the true pioneers of body confidence display on a regular basis.

And that is our fault.  Because just like the infancy of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, the Body Confidence Movement’s beginnings have been shaky at best.  What started out as a positive, uplifting, and absolutely necessary movement, has turned out to be another tried-and-true marketing ploy.

Sex sells, and the Body Confidence Movement has fallen prey.  We have lost our way, big girls.  Instead of images filled with confidence and respect, we are churning out images of our naked/nearly naked bodies, and we are selling them to the highest bidder and for Instagram likes.  We say, “Good for her!” and “Way to go!”  We cry, “She’s so sexy!” and “I wish I could be as confident as her!”

My question, my loves, is why do we have to be naked to be pretty, or confident?  Why do we have to shed some clothes and bare some skin to get people to notice us and take us seriously?

I am not without fault here, please understand that, my dears.  In my modeling and blogging careers, I have been all too happy to bare my body to the world.  And I realize now, that I never even questioned it.  I never once thought about why I was doing it, what it meant to me then, and what it would mean to me years after.

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We have to do better.  I have to do better.  If we’re going to really make a difference when it comes to body acceptance for our generation and beyond, we have to stop confusing this all too important concept with pornography.  Real body acceptance is not sold to the masses in print and online.  It’s not photoshopped and lathered in oil, then exchanged for a pay check.

Real body acceptance is earned after we’ve shed all our tears, and we’ve endured all the pain we can stand.  It comes to us when we look at ourselves and say, “I am beautiful, and I don’t need anyone else to tell me so.”

11.11.2014 ~ How Much Love Inside A Friend?

“How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it. How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ‘em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ‘em.” – Shel Silverstein

You could say this little quip from Shel is about perspective, and ultimately, an optimistic perspective.  And you would be right, but the piece of this quote that I really connect to is the bit about “How much love inside a friend?”

It’s a simple enough premise – we get back what we give.  When we give our friends our love and our loyalty, we can reasonably assume that we will get the same in return.

I feel at times; however, that I get so much more from my friends than what I give.  Some I don’t see every day, some I don’t see every month, or every year even.  But it doesn’t mean that they impact my life any less.

I adore each and every one of my best friends, my close friends, and even those friends that I may not talk to regularly, but if I were to see those friends today, I would hug them and mean it when I say I was overjoyed to see them.  Every friend adds something particularly special to your life, and I have been blessed with a beautiful friend here in California that offers me something that I didn’t realize would be so important to me.

Truth is, I get homesick…A LOT!  I adore California, and I know that moving here was definitely the right thing for me and my life at this particular time.  But leaving everything you know, leaving all of these people, places, and things that you love with all your heart…well, it’s tough, to say the very least.

That’s why I’m so grateful for my stunning Sara.  You see, Sara is another Midwest-to-California convert.  I’ve known Sara for years, kind of a friend-of-a-friend relationship to start with.  But a couple of years ago, Sara and I made a bond of our own during a particularly difficult situation.  And when I made the move to California, well, our friendship truly solidified.

Sara is not only a sweet, amazing, and kind person, but she’s also a piece of home.  And even though I have friends and family here that I see on a regular basis, when I’m with Sara I have the feeling that somehow we’re back in St. Louis or Kansas City, and those we love and miss terribly aren’t so very far away at all.

PhotoGrid_1415604183776Cheers to amazing friends, and the little reminders of home that we cherish with all our hearts.

11.7.2014 ~ Dating After Divorce, Part One

It’s one of those overcast, hazy kind of days in California that I’m still getting used to.  It reminds me of those fall and winter mornings back home in Missouri, where the full cover of the clouds in the sky seemed to blanket the earth in a tone of gray.  When those kinds of days came around, it usually meant snow was on its way.

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There’s NO chance of that happening here.  No, most likely it’ll fade around noon, and the sun will shine down with a clear blue sky as its companion.

I wish the cloudiness of my mind could fade so easily.  Unfortunately the mind is a much more complicated animal than the steady and true weather patterns of the Great State of California.

Today, I have a lot of competing thoughts on my mind.  My grandmother’s death and all the memories I have of her are still fresh in my mind, but thoughts of John are sprinkled in there, as well. God, if this man wasn’t such an idiot, he’d be the most amazing man I ever met!  I’ve been trying to forget him, but it’s pretty hard when he does something like overnight a beautiful porcelain angel with a note about how sorry he was for my family’s loss.

You know, when I set out to begin dating in California, I never imagined that I would find my heart so completely touched by someone again.  I remember telling myself, “Just go meet people.  Don’t get serious.  Have a little fun, babes, you’ve earned it!”

And I did, for a time.  I started my dating life in California with a very “fun” guy.  Terry lived in San Diego, and was a 28 year old personal trainer. He was a sweet, entertaining, extremely handsome guy, but I realized after about a month that there wasn’t much between us.  Terry was the easy choice, someone that didn’t take a lot of effort, wasn’t offering much and didn’t ask for much in return.

He was what I needed at the time, and let’s be honest, for a lot of people (myself included) it’s just too hard to be alone right after a divorce.  You don’t really want a relationship, but you still want to be held, you want someone to validate you, to tell you you’re beautiful, to remind you that you’re still desirable.  It’s a completely selfish need, and one that is tied up in all the insecurity and low self-esteem that only a divorce can bring upon you.

After I said goodbye to Terry, I thought to myself, maybe I just shouldn’t date at all for a little while.  I was at a point where I was building up my life again.  I had found a good job that I loved, I was spending time with my family, and I was making new friends.  Life began to seem not so desolate, and I felt myself returning to, well, me.  I was me again, and that was a pretty spectacular feeling.

And while I was sitting there so amused by my changing circumstances, something happened that I wasn’t expecting.  This one guy sent me a message on a dating site I had set up on a whim.  I hadn’t put much stock in it when I put up my profile, and I hadn’t even really put my heart into it when I first set it up.

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But there was something about this particular man, the way he talked to me, the kindness in his eyes in his photos, how he approached me in his messages.   Well, I couldn’t resist.  And so it was that when John finally called me and asked me on our first date, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.  I had NO IDEA at the time that I was setting in motion what would be my first real relationship after my divorce, a relationship that would end entirely too soon and in the most peculiar way.

11.4.2014 ~ And In Death, We Remember What It Is To Love One Another

At 10:22am on November 4, 2014, the loving, powerful, and irreplaceable matriarch of the Whan family passed peacefully into her eternal life. Evelyn Whan, my grandmother, was a woman like no other.  She was creative, strong, brave, caring, passionate, beautiful, and a great many other things.  She touched so many people’s lives, and she claimed the hearts of every person she came into contact with.

With her passing, there are now holes in all of our hearts that can never be filled.  As we shed our tears as a family today, we all recognized the truth of that simple yet overpowering fact.  But as I looked around at my family, my aunts, my uncles, my cousin, and my father, I realized that we are her legacy.  We are the pieces of her that are left on this physical plane.  We are parts of the same whole, her whole, and no matter what issues have separated us at one time or another, it is our love for her and our love for each other that will bind us forever.

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Grandma, I am going to miss you terribly.  Having you as a near daily part of my life for the last several months has meant more to me than anything.  While you were facing your own battles, you loved me, you gave me strength and courage, you consoled me, and you supported me.  I love you with all my heart.  I won’t say goodbye, because I know I’ll see you someday, when hopefully I’ve lived a life as full and as meaningful as yours.  Until then, I’ll find you in the stars…

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
– Mary Elizabeth Frye, 1932

11.3.2014 ~ My Hero, The Dancing Queen

Getting old is something we all do.  We each get older with every passing day.

But reaching that point in your life where you know your time is near, knowing that any day might be your last day, and choosing to live your life with grace…well, that is heroic, and not everybody can be a hero.

My grandmother is a hero.

If there is one thing that I am most grateful for about making the move to California, it’s that I get to share and be part of my grandmother’s final days.

Several weeks ago, my grandmother was finally placed on hospice care, and while my Aunt Diane has been her caregiver these last several years, my Aunt Debi has also decided to take some time off from work and spend this time with her mother.

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Since I moved here, I’ve immensely enjoyed the time I’ve spent with my grandma and aunts – home-cooked family dinners, lunchtime visits during the work week, playing dice until way passed Grandma’s bedtime, and hearing about all the wonderful things Grandma learned from Bob Ross that week – they are all memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

Grandma is trying to live her life as she see fits, but you can see that some days are very hard.  So much so that sometimes it feels strange to even ask, “How are you doing today, Grandma?”  Because I know every day is a tough day – between her breathing treatments, hospice care and physical therapy visits, and just generally mustering up the strength to get dressed and live a life undaunted by her circumstances…God, she is amazing!  Every day that I spend with her I stand in awe of her strength and her courage.

And it was no different when we found ourselves, a happy quartet of Whan women, headed out to spend a day at the swap meet last Saturday afternoon.  We weren’t sure if it was going to happen, these days you kind of just have to go with the flow.  And while Grandma had not had the best of days leading up to Saturday, apparently this day she was determined to enjoy the California sunshine and a little shopping with her daughters and granddaughter.

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As we prepared to leave and Aunt Diane was getting Grandma’s oxygen tank together, I heard Grandma say something that I’ll never forget.  She said, “Well I’m not going to sit around here and just wait to die.”

I didn’t say anything to her, I didn’t acknowledge that I had heard her say it.  I just looked away because it touched me so much.  It was the first time I had actually heard her say the words.  Sure, she had alluded.  Sure, I knew that hospice had been called in.  Sure, Aunt Debi and Aunt Diane had talked to me about what was going on.  But to hear her say it, the truth of it all became very real to me in that moment.  And the way she said it, well, she said it the only way I could ever imagine her saying it now that I’ve really gotten to know her.

“Death is coming, but I don’t fear it.  I will choose my life, and I will choose it all the way to the very end.”

Instead of letting the dark cloud of the end cast a shadow on her remaining days, she chose to dance.  And that gorgeous afternoon spent in the sun with my grandma and my aunts, will be one that I will cherish forever.

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