Seven years ago today, my life changed forever. In one moment you were here on this Earth, and the next gone. It took one phone call to make the greatest impact on my life. You had been my greatest cheerleader, my coach on the sidelines in all my sports, the dad in the audience of all my band, orchestra, and piano recitals. You were in the stands the day I graduated High School and then Navy bootcamp, and the person I called when I had questions about OSU football games, or car questions. Some of the fondest memories I have are sitting on the computer and you watching a movie answering questions I’m sure annoyed you.
Some days you cross my mind fleetingly, something will remind me of you or I’ll see something that I wish I could share with you. Other days the grief is heavy and I think of you and replay the memories over and over. Like the time I scored a goal and you let me shave your head. I never knew you had ears like that until all that hair was gone. Or the time we were instant messaging when I was overseas and you came up with your own shorthand… and I had no clue what you were trying to say and when mom asked you… you acted surprised that we didn’t just know what you meant.
I have so many memories with you that it is hard to choose which ones to share with the world. These three pictures are some of my favorite ones with you.
Daddy & I taking a nap
Daddy & I laughing
Before my senior prom
I wish you could have been there the day I walked down the aisle. Oh I know you were there in spirit, I could feel it. But it would have been so much more special had you been here in person. I know there will be more days to come in my life when I will have those same thoughts.
The rose I placed in memory of father as I walked down the aisle.
Seven years has been what feels like an eternity somedays and just the other day at other times. I wish I could hear your voice one more time, have one more hug, see you stick your tongue out at me one more time. These pictures are one of the ways I will remember you. I love you daddy!
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These songs have given me so much comfort.
Sitting here this morning watching a Christmas movie after spending the earlier hours of the morning listening to Christmas music, it hit me. I just don’t feel it anymore… and now I know why.
That might sound harsh to some people so I’m going to explain. Growing up Christmas was exciting and a time for family. When I was really little my parents would hold an open house on Christmas day for our extended family. I remember helping to make cookies and getting excited to see the older cousins like Aurelia and Angie as well as their dad and a few other aunts and uncles that I didn’t get to see very often. We got to spend Christmas Eve with my grandparents who would come in and stay with us so they were here Christmas morning. Then that all stopped happening. I don’t know why for sure because I was little, like younger elementary school age but it did.
So Christmas became a day that just the six of us celebrated. We would decorate the outside of the house on Thanksgiving and put up some of the decorations inside that day as well. Then around the second Saturday of December, my dad would go get the tree and we would all decorate it. My sister and I from a young age would sleep on the floor in our room on Christmas Eve to try and stay up as long as possible so we could try and figure out where the gifts had been hidden so we would know where to go looking next year… (yes, we were those kinds of kids). Then we got to big or decided that the floor wasn’t comfortable and started treating it like any other night. Then even all of that changed. She moved out, I joined the military, and slowly but surely the other two siblings joined as well.
I would have to say though that one of my all time favorite Christmas’s was that last Christmas we all had with our dad. Christmas was his deal. He loved decorating the tree and I truly genuinely believe that it was the happiest day of each year for him. But I think what made that last Christmas so special is that we didn’t know it was the last. We assumed that there would be more together and that eventually he would get to share his joy for that day with grandkids and all of our spouses.
I know that I learned my love of this season from watching him and sharing all of those decorating times with him. Which is why I think for two or three weeks in December, leading up to Christmas… I just don’t feel it anymore.
But then once I actually put the decorations up, decorate the tree and think about how happy he would have been with how good it turned out (even if it is a dreaded fake tree now) those feelings tend to ease up and the Christmas season joy returns.
Today I am so thankful today for the amazing women I call my grandmas and the amazing woman I call my aunt. These women aren’t my blood but I would be hard set to find another group of loving women or women that I love like family. These women came today and today helped to relieve some of my moving anxiety by helping to pack most of the house and then move the stuff to the new place. I don’t think I could have done half of what they did today in two weeks. These are the same women that are there to listen to me ramble about whatever may be on my mind or in my heart. It’s so nice to have that again… it makes me think of my grandpa Rodgers and how we would talk on the phone or when I would visit with him. He and my grandma Rodgers were the only grandparents I knew growing up. Those are some of the very good memories and I hope I never lose them.
Grandma Rodgers on Christmas Eve 1990
Grandpa Rodgers in the summer of 1994
But anyways…. I could go on forever about them and memories in general. Treasure your loved ones. You never know when something could change in a heartbeat. A year ago today, the world lost an amazing young woman and bright light. Ashley Vance could make you feel included and a part of things even if you knew you were truly an outsider. She was doing great things with her life and touched so many lives including those of her students. Ashley, you may be gone from this world… but you will never be forgotten.
Ashley Danyelle Vance May 1, 1987 – January 31, 2012
Holy cow!! I can’t believe it’s the 17th… where has this month gone?!? Today has been an AMAZING day!! So many things to be thankful for and to feel blessed about so I guess I will start from the beginning of the day and work myself up to the present time. First of all I was able to help my mom out more than normal today and take over the task of doing the laundry so that she could focus on finishing a blanket she is making for my brother. Then we went to look at a prospective rental property that it seems extremely likely we will be moving to! I then got to experience the love of my church family for the countless time by so many of them offering their time to help pack us up and move us. The blessing of a recent new friend offering his truck and some of his time on Saturday’s to help us move. Friends volunteering to help in any way they can just help to remind me how much support I have here. How many people are pulling for me to succeed and be where I need to be and to have my mom where she needs to be. While this next month will be more challenging and stressful than normal, I am so looking forward to this next chapter (praying that it all goes well and we do get to start this new chapter) as well as being able to share with all of you how I take these challenges and stress and turn them to positive motivation and blessings in my life.
So here I go to pull up my boot straps and jump in!
Well since I had another migraine last night I didn’t get to post what I was thankful for. While many people might not understand what there could be thankful, I am thankful for modern medicine. While it might not always help… it certainly does get the ball rolling in the right direction.
Today has been crazy busy and stressful and it seems like this will be par for the course this semester. While I used to let that control me, I know see it as more of a challenge. Not in the way that would cause more stress by worrying about, but in the way that time management will be helpful. Hopefully by managing my time better and trying to stick to that schedule will help to relieve that stressful feeling and allow for more nights of sleep and less all-nighters. So I am thankful for one of my mom’s lessons while I was growing up which was time management. While I might not have applied it back then, I certainly did take it in and store it for later. So thank you mom for that lesson and all the lessons you taught me and tried to teach me!
Today has been a stressful day as I try to adjust to a routine of these new classes and working this semester. Exhausted doesn’t seem to even explain well how I feel right now. Unfortunately, no matter how exhausted I feel, my body still thinks a good idea to play tricks on me and not let me sleep. I’m writing this earlier than normal hoping that I can sleep tonight.
Also today I did some talking with a girl at school and decided that I will take the GRE next fall and apply to PsyD programs at Wright State and to schools in VA. My mom helped to alleviate most of my anxiety about things having to do with her and this new decision so I’m pretty excited about this new direction. I know that I will only achieve what is in God’s plan for me… but it’s always nice to have different avenues and possibilities available.
So today I am thankful for these possibilities and the sacrifices that might have to be made by my mom and my brother’s for some of these to happen. They have always supported me and pushed me forward when I thought I couldn’t do something or wanted to give up. I don’t know where I would be without them!