(taken by Nana Greta as she babysat Jade...and Jade "babysat" a little herself!)
My Shaelyn Jade reminds me of me in so many things she does (don't worry people---NOT the way she looks!!!) One big way is her love for baby dolls more than any other toy. Since she was about 7 months old (when Nanny Thelma got her first baby for her for Christmas) she has just loved to have a baby in her arms. It just amazes me that she actually understands the concepts of rocking a baby, loving the baby, bathing the baby, changing her diaper. Sometimes I will be in one room and she'll be in her room and I'll hear her say, "Oh Baby"...and if I sneak in on her she is always rocking that baby and just patting her little back! It has to be the SWEETEST thing any child has ever done! When we leave her in the nursery at church each week, she immediately finds a doll, rocks it the whole time we're gone, and has to be pryed away from it when we return. I really think she might just as well stay the whole week at church if she could just stay with that little baby!!! As far back as I can remember, it was baby dolls that I always asked for, baby dolls that I always preferred to play with (Barbie who???), and a "mama" I always dreamed of being. Never, however, in my wildest dreams did I ever dream of loving my own baby like I do...there are simply no words for what this "little mama" does to my heart. Oh, Shaelyn Jade, please don't grow up! How I love these days of rocking and holding my own little baby...
Today we remember Rich's sweet Grampy Andrews who passed peacefully in his sleep last night. He was 81 years old and lived a long, full life. He is survived by his daughter, Susan Andrews and her two children Jameson and Madison, as well as his son, Christopher (Rich's Dad), his wife, Christine (Rich's Mom), Rich, Sarah (his sister), Emily (his niece)...me...and Shaelyn Jade! We all spoke today via skype and laughed and laughed at all the funny memories we have of Grampy. Please keep Rich and our family in your prayers as their hearts are obviously sad for this loss.
I was able to be with Grampy for two extended visits- once when I visited England in 2004 and then again when we all went to San Francisco in 2005. These are the things that I learned about the old man:
1) Grampy had been married to one woman, Margaret, until she died in 1992. He loved her. 2) Grampy was a policeman in Bath, England. I bet he was a tough policeman! 3) Grampy's favorite past time was going to his local pub, drinking beer, and playing snooker. 4) Grampy loved beer. 5) Grampy loved scotch even more. 6) He lived in the same house, 49 Moorfields Road, for over 50 years. 7) Grampy had a deep heart. He would have done anything for his children. 8) He had a great laugh...and he and Rich loved picking at each other, back and forth. 9) Grampy and Nanny Andrews used to take Richard and Sarah to the "caravan" every year...sort of like a "KOA" on the beach in England. It was the highlight of their summer... some of Rich's best childhood memories. 10) Grampy had a chair in his house that there are pictures of him sleeping with every one of his grandkids. 11) Grampy could sleep ANYWHERE. And required much sleep since I have known him. 12) Grampy was a your typical "crotchity" old Englishman...with a great English accent...and an even dryer sense of humor. 13) Grampy loved to walk...when he had dogs he walked them daily and really enjoyed it. 14) Grampy was very loved...and will be very missed.
...So I spent another day with Sonya today. Different than the old days, but still good. Still us. We go through so much of the day just as us, our good ole squabbling selves always giggling and knit-picking each other's every move- and now shadowed by two littler versions of ourselves who have started squabblings of their own already. We stay busy. We ALWAYS have a list in front of us to keep us on track (because, let's face it, I am not a "stay on track" kind of gal, and she's in a whirlwind...)We focus lots of our conversations on Banebow...and the GOOD that is going to come of all this. Then the reality creeps in- in the spaces where comfortable silence has always had its place for us...and she tells me how one month later, the doesn't miss him one bit less than the morning after he died. Hard to hear. Hard to know. Hard to accept that this unimaginable pain is her lot- for the rest of our lives. It will never go away completely.
It's been one month. I remember the night Bane died, standing in Vanderbilt ICU thinking, "I wonder how they will be a week from now, a MONTH from now...a year from now????"...and this is the reality after one month. She knows that only time will ease the severity of the pain, but for now, it is intense. I say all of this because I know that for everyone but them- it's easy to forget. It just is. I hate to say that. But I want to just remind you friends who keep up with me that this hurting mama and daddy are still hurting just as bad today as they were a month ago. They need your prayers today and tomorrow and the next day oh so much. Please continue to pray. Please continue to read Bane's blog. Please continue to call and text and remind them of your love. You do not know how far it is carrying them on days like today.
And on a lighter note...I left Sonya tonight and met Rich for dinner. I insisted on leaving her my car since she was meeting a friend of ours for dinner...but she said she'd rather walk. As I left dinner, across town from her, actually as I was crossing a busy intersection---I spotted a Banebow so BRIGHT and beautiful in the sky. I almost wrecked my car (literally) as I fumbled for my phone to snap a picture. My battery was low but I prayed this one last message would go through to Sonya, a text: "Look who shined down on my dinner again tonight!"...and it sent...and then my phone immediately died. I came home, plugged in my phone, and forgot about it. As I laid down a few minutes ago, I saw my phone blinking. A text from Sonya..."check blog!" I texted her back to see if she got my message from earlier. She wrote back..."yes. check blog!" So I got back out of my bed, came to this computer where I am presently standing in the kitchen, pulled up sweet Baney's blog...and read THIS. Tears in Spring Hill on a late Friday night. Oh our God was so big and so BRIGHT tonight...and always. On this "one month" milemarker that she, through sobs last night, told me she dreaded...He was so faithful to give her the strength for a walk instead of a ride tonight, so that He could remind her of just how CLOSE He is.
I have seen more rainbows Banebows in the last month than ever before...and I KNOW that is not a coincidence.
...I know. It's been a while. But I have been in Chicago AND San Francisco in the two weeks. Needless to say, I am happy my feet are back on TN soil! Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed both trips. Chicago was for my sweet friend, Tricia's, bachelorette weekend. Love that city. I had been there once before with Sonya, when I was 18, she was 20. We were so poor we had to DRIVE there, and stayed WAY outside the city. But of course we had fun. And again, Chicago was fun for me. It was so good to see all of Tricia's favorite girls gather together around her to celebrate her. Such a testament to how well SHE loves people. Then were off to San Francisco to visit Rich's family. It was, as always, wonderful and beautiful. From their back porch you can see the most beautiful golden hills all around you. I love it there. No matter where they live, their houses are always so "homey" to me. Must not be the houses. Must be the "warm" bodies in them. :) I always miss my mother-in-law... We loved the time with them...and it was so sweet to see them enjoy Shaelyn Jade. She is really growing into her little personality and I was able to just sit back and watch it myself this week. That was the best part. AND having Rich right with us for 6 days straight. That was great!
...So my last post, I mentioned that the next day, Sonya and I (and Jade and Livi)were going to "Play It Forward". We did. We spent the day getting pictures of Bane blown up, and buying frames and bright colored gift bags and delivering them to special people who have been so sweet to Sonya and Dra. Like our wonderful pediatrician, Dr. Brooks...and his fabulous nurse, Eva. And our wonderful pastors at Bethel who really have given the term "church family" a whole new meaning for us through all this. That was fun. Next, we decided we'd like to do a "random" act so we just started driving, all over the place, praying that God would lead us to someone who needed a "lift"... Listening to the praise music from Bane's Celebration. It's amazing how when you just WORSHIP GOD, the rest of the world sorta fades away. So we drove. And praised. And then we saw him. Walter. Walking alone down the sidewalk. Kinda limping. Just looked a little down on his luck. Sonya said, "That's him...let me out!" Right there in the middle of the road. She approached him. I stayed in the car with the girls.
And they started walking along together. My eyes filled up with big tears as I watched my sweet Sonya following God's path for her, right down that sidewalk. You see, since Bane died, it's as if God's "calling" for their lives has become SO CRYSTAL CLEAR. All of the planning, all of the preparing, all of the schooling...none of it could have "prepared" them for the pain of losing their son, but it was all part of God's perfect plan to use them...to glorify His Name. She stood there on that sidewalk and listened to Walter's story. He actually said it himself, he was a little "down on his luck" lately...and shared his struggles. She listened. Then she asked him where he was headed, and he said he has the key to a local church and he walks and lets the choir in each week for practice. She asked him if he was hungry to which he shamelessly said yes. She asked him if, in exchange for a good warm meal, he'd also let her share her story with him. He agreed. We headed straight to Hardee's where we got him a yummy meal that he almost enjoyed all by himself...
...minus two fries...but we promise we told him! :) He was waiting outside the church when we returned and he smiled as his new friend approached.
They went into that little church and talked more...this time her.He listened to her heart as she told him all about her baby boy that she lost. About how "down" she was feeling too.
Two complete strangers. Very different lives. Directed by God to each other. Paths crossed. Stories told. Burdens SHARED.
Walter took a Banebow card and made a promise that night to Play It Forward himself.
I believe he did.
I wonder what other person out there was, in turn, blessed by sweet Walter?
Are you Playing It Forward in your own life? Has Bane's story encouraged you to ACT? If so, please let me know. I would love to share your story with Sonya tomorrow. Oh the strength it brings her...
Where do I start?...Seems like my life "started" one day when I met a boy named Rich in French class. A few years later, he asked me to marry him on a beach in Charleston, SC (one of my favorite spots on this earth)... and a few years after that, we fell in love again- this time with a chubby faced, long legged, brown eyed baby girl that we call Shaelyn Jade. Two years after that we welcomed our blonde hair and blue-eyed boy Jude Warren into our crew! Time is flying by and we are soaking up every minute we can as a family of 4! This is a peek into our lives as we seek to follow Jesus wherever He leads us, and bring glory to His name each day. I am SO BLESSED and I feel, most days, that we are living "somewhere over the rainbow..."