We’d dreamt and planned and saved since Gabriel was a newborn, “One day, we’ll take all the kids to Europe– Paris, Germany, Austria– we’ll wander through Versailles, sing “Do Re Mi” in the Mirabell Gardens and hike to crumbling castles.”
Our goal was to go before Ben left for college because he’ll leave on his mission just a few months after that and then Stefan, and Hans and Xander and… we won’t have our family together again for at least a decade. But I was surprised, when I had the distinct impression that we should plan our trip for the summer after Ben’s junior year, rather than after his senior year. Last May I was muddled and discouraged– how could we go on this grand trip when my mother was desperately ill? I doubted myself–“Who was I to think I’d been inspired?” and I doubted God– “Why would he take interest in my life?” I fretted and lost sleep and weighed every option in my mind.
And then, my mother died and we planned her funeral for the day we had tickets to Paris.
Those days were filled to the brim with tears, phone calls, flights from San Diego back to Utah, visits to the mortuary and the temple, the viewing, dozens of visits and hugs from friends and neighbors. Months before, a sweet couple had asked me to photograph their wedding on June 18th. I’d declined because of our trip and now feel like that too was God’s hand, it’s possible to change a flight, but I couldn’t have photographed a wedding.
I’d used Skymiles for Erik and the four older boys, so their tickets were easily moved to the day after the funeral. Gabriel, Mary and I had paid tickets, and at first I was furious when they refused to put us on the same flight as the rest of the family. But I again saw God’s hand when I was given an extra four days with my siblings and my dad. Transforming temporarily from a mother of six to a mother of two, gave me time to rest and cry. I was amazed at my foresight in lumping Erik and the four boys together and keeping my tickets with the little ones– but I can scarcely take credit for a vision which wasn’t mine. (And in one of those wickedly delightful bonuses, Delta airlines ended up refunding $1800 to my account which will partially pay for a trip this Christmas.)
The attention from friends and loved ones during a funeral is wonderful. I remember and can name nearly every person who came to the funeral or viewing, who sent flowers and food and sweet cards. Every bit of sympathy means so much.
But in the days after the funeral it became overwhelming (and this seems to be somewhat universal from friends I’ve talked too), every conversation brought me to tears. I loved my friends and appreciated them but I was exhausted from telling the story of my mother’s last days. Thankfully, my schedule had been emptied because of our planned vacation; I couldn’t imagine teaching Sunday School, or sitting through violin lessons or doing any of the normal, ordinary tasks of life. And so, nothing could have been better than packing our bags, flying across the world and spending two weeks with my own little family. My dad joining us made it especially sweet.
It was, undoubtedly, the trip of a lifetime. We loved Paris- as you can see by the cheap t-shirts- and I hope to write about it more. I’m finding it difficult to write about the past when the present is so full.
But today, when my grief feels much more complicated than it did last summer, I want to acknowledge God’s hand in my life. Witnessing the detailed attention he gave to my family last summer, I have hope that He is aware of me now, and that the impossible tangles today will one day reveal His plan.
Even better than the way things worked out so perfectly last summer is your perfect knowledge and testimony that all things come from He who loves you so very, very much. Hopefully that eases the pangs you continue to feel. xoxo
One day at a time…
What a beautiful story to share. We are in the middle of a journey without knowing the ending. I too have hope that God is aware of us all.
Grief is so mind-numbingly, heart-hurtingly complicated… thank you for writing this post!
Can’t wait to get our geek on with you guys 😉
I’m so sorry that we added to your stresses last year. It was unintentional on our part.
I hope all is well now and that life will get better. You are a talented mother, photographer, and writer.
Thank you for what you write about…
Kelsey– you didn’t add to our stresses! You were a blessing, but I would have hated to let you down.
Michelle-It’s torture every time I see pictures of your family trip to Europe because I think of how much fun it was when you and little Gabe came to see us in France and I can only imagine how amazingly fun it would be to journey through France, Austria and Germany with our favorite family! We NEED to make it happen:)
As for your “timing” post- I LOVED everything about what you said. The day Darren died was the most difficult day for me, filled with every emotion possible. From the sweet joy of being sealed to my beautiful bride to the most bitter sorrow and anger of losing my baby brother. But as you mentioned, once the dust settles and the emotions begin to balance out…I was able to see the hand of the Lord in every tiny detail! The tender mercies that were poured out by such a loving Heavenly Father sweetened every memory I had of my life with Darren and chased the anger and sorrow away. Don’t get me wrong, it took time, much like a slow, warm sunrise that chases away the dark and cold of night and brightens our perspective. I still to this day have moments of longing to know what he would have been like and what he would’ve accomplished but I am so grateful for the ability and blessing of knowing that I mean enough to Him to have so many tiny miracles on that special, difficult day, just for me!
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, insight and feelings. You helped me remember, and doing so is healing.
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Thinking about you and hoping for continued peace and understanding.
P.S. Love the R7 suitcase – even sweeter seeing one of your little men pulling it…
I stumbled onto your blog last night via Trainer Momma. I don’t know you, but I adore your blog. It is so beautiful! You inspire me to get back into learning photoshop. If you want to spy back on my blog it’s paulandcarolyntanner.blogspot.com/. Thank you!
Oh my~ a lovely post all around. More pictures of Paris would be dandy. The one of your family with the kids all smiling and laughing is perfect. I love it.
Thinking of you.
What a wonderful picture of your family.