Walking through the airport, ten paces behind her Poppy and I, acting as if she owns the place and does it every day. Staring out the window of the plane and awing at the reality that "We are higher than the clouds!" Enjoying snacks and drinks and exclaiming "this is fun!". Batting her eyes at my Dad, her Poppy, smiling with excitement and drawing us in. Waving good-bye to Ohio and anticipating the adventure that awaits. . . My girl is a traveler.
This trip was originally planned for just my Dad and I. A quick jaunt to spend a few days with two very special people. My Grandparents. . .
Let me just tell you. . . these two people are CRAZY COOL. They have more than 160 years of experience and wisdom between them and they are the epitome of classy people. They have experienced the full range of good times and bad and through it all, they still stand together. . . hand in hand. Our time with them was wonderful.
We sat together. We ate together. We talked to one another. We listened to one another. We continue to heal. . .
These are my Mom's parents. If you've read this blog before, you might know I lost my Mom five months ago. This was the first time I have seen my Grandparents since our loss. My loss of my Mom, my Dad's loss of his wife, and my Grandparents loss of their daughter. . . the loss of their third child. The loss is still so raw, so painful, so real and unreal at the same time. Being together makes it even more real as the empty spot is more prominent. But something happened on this trip. . . something unexpected, something beautiful.
That something came in a small bundle of blonde hair, silly chatter, warm hugs, and utter joy. That something was Chanelle, a last minute addition to our trip. What I found on this trip is that in the midst of tragedy and the ache of pain is that words are not necessary, or even possible. Words could never do what Chanelle did with her presence.
In this little person I think we all saw it. . . that we have so much to be thankful for. As I watched my Grandparents take in the innocence of my daughter I saw their faces light up. I saw hope in the midst of sadness. I saw joy. I saw life. I saw love. . . such love! I saw in that moment, life, Chanelle's little life, was bigger than our pain.
Oh the smiles she brought as she sauntered through a restaurant dancing to the music. The delight we felt when she made silly faces and played simple games. The joy that was experienced as we watched this little one pick a flower, chase a chameleon, and play with a puppy.
I will never know what it has been like to walk in the shoes of my Grandparents. Or those of my Dad. I will never understand what has allowed them to continue to move forward in such a way that honors the sacredness of life. One thing I do know, however, is that these people are survivors of the greatest kind. People who have walked forward honorably, faithfully, and quietly in order to leave a legacy for me, my siblings, my children. I am so thankful to them for this. . . and as I live this life it is my greatest hope that I can live with the same tenacity and perspective that each of them has shown to me.
And so I arrive home from this short three day trip with a lifetime of memories. Memories with my Dad, my Grandparents and Chanelle. Memories that I will store in my heart and carry with me wherever I go. Memories that will be held close, like a treasured gift, and told and retold in order to honor the legacy that is before me and behind me. Memories that tell a story. . . a beautiful story that make us who we are. A story that, I believe, is worth telling.