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17 March 2009

It's Been A Year

So much has happened in the past year ... and one year ago today, two events occurred that marked a dramatic change in my life: Creighton (my only son and middle child) graduated from high school, and my father lost his battle with cancer. (written 2 Jun 2008)

Graduation can be as much a nervously exciting day for parents as it can be for the graduates themselves. For the graduate, the ceremony is the official end of that portion of their education. For the parent, it marks yet another milestone in their child's life. High school graduation is that transition into adulthood, the end - for some - of having decisions made for them and moving into making their own decisions. Like many moms I know, I was teary-eyed. Yet another of my "babies" was finishing high school! The pride that fills you when you hear your child's name called is immense!

My pride was tempered only by the fact that my phone was on vibrate and I kept glancing at the screen dreading the phone call that I was all too afraid would be coming in. Nikki, Sami, and mama had come in from Germany on Wednesday for Creighton's graduation and a month's leave. Danielle, Jon, and Rebecca were down from New York for Creighton's graduation, so Danielle and I took off to Atlanta on Wednesday to pick up the travelers. Little did I know that the news coming from UAB would not be good, Cheryl was waiting for mama to get in so that I would not be alone with Danielle (and driving!) when she told me that Daddy's cancer was back with a vengeance and it was only a matter of time - probably days. We left the airport and drove straight from Atlanta to Birmingham. Danielle had gotten to spend a little bit of time with daddy when she was home on spring break, but Nikki hadn't seen him since well before Sami was born.

Cheryl and I were in almost constant contact over the next three days. We left UAB late Wednesday night so I could be back at SAMC for my surgery on Thursday morning. The plan was to leave again after graduation and head back to Birmingham, so a little adjustment to the packing and off we went. I had called Cheryl immediately after graduation and let her know that the ceremony was over and that we were heading north. We hadn't even made it to Montgomery when the call came in. I can still hear the quiet exhaustion in those two words ... "He's gone." Cheryl was blessed to be able to spend much of daddy's last months with him, and the constant travel combined with the normal everyday stress of being a parent and running a household had taken a toll on her.

Daddy had worried a little back in the spring about making it to Creighton's graduation. He was fretting over the fact that it would be the first grandchild's graduation that he would miss, and at that time, we were telling him that he'd be there! We had every belief that he would, he was just that strong. He had such pride in his children and grandchildren, and even in his great-grandchild that he hadn't yet seen.

Looking back, it seems hard to believe that it's been a year already. Creighton has finished his freshman year at Arizona State and is preparing now for his sophomore year at Auburn. Daddy is at peace, and still watching over his brood ... his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild. We carry him in our hearts and minds always. I love and miss you daddy!

Lord, thank you for making me understand that sometimes joy is wrapped in pain. Thank you for giving me the strength to keep my faith, and the support that keeps me going. Thank you for showing me the importance of family, and the peace of forgiveness. Thank you for blessing me with 43 years of my daddy's love ... and thank you for relieving his pain. Thank you for the beauty that is my children and grandchild. Help me to share the vastness that is your love, one day at a time.

"I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety." ~Psalms 4:8 NIV

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