Last week I had a moment that literally stood still for me. I was at the bedside of my darling Grandma, who I had not seen in over 10 years. Distance may have separated us but she has always been part of my heart and I love her with all I have. My greatest fear after all this time was that she (now in her 90’s) might not know me. I was almost afraid to get on the plane.

It had been so long.

Much had changed.

We settled into her house on the hill (another precious gift), and then took a trip to the beautiful home that now cares for her. We walked down the hall towards her room, and I could feel my heart beating out of my chest. My heart, that I often tuck so deep to protect it from things that might bring pain, felt as vulnerable as it ever had. My chest had been cracked open for surgery and all you could see was my exposed heart. Usually I avoid laying it out on the line. Normally I wouldn’t allow myself to be in a situation that could allow for such painful rejection. I never want to open the door for deep hurt to visit already shaky places.

I chose to be brave.

I had travelled far.

This is why I came.

My Aunt had gone in first and got Grandma ready for our visit. She was having a good day, and as I went and sat by her bedside in the home that I never knew her in, but was now the place she lived – I began to cry. I remembered all the childhood visits with my brothers and my parents, the smell of her fresh bread, running up on the hill behind her house, the joy when she came to my wedding, the pride when I brought my own children to meet her. So many memories as I sat and looked at her dear face.

My Aunt leaned over to her ear and whispered. “Mom, remember that little baby? The one that Sheila and Byron chose, and then brought her to the house to meet you? Do you remember her? Shelly?”

That was the moment. 

My little heart that longs for belonging with every beat, stood still.

“Indeed I do” she replied.

I felt my heart pulse again, those words bringing incredible life.

She knew me. I was remembered.

Loved. Accepted. Embraced.

My heart was filled in countless ways over the next few days. My soul poured into until it overflowed. Spending time feeding Grandma blueberries and holding her hand. Sitting with my own mom by the bedside of her mom. Visiting with family at a big celebration. Walking by the ocean and drinking in the beauty. Listening to the crashing of the waves. Watching and learning from the family around me how to love and care through all the stages of life.

Good and bad.

Joy and Pain.

Happiness and deep aches.

Though all my life, family has always been the greatest gift. 

Thank you God.

There are places that I know I will never belong. I’m learning not to care about those places. That’s not where I want to be, I’m letting them go.

I do belong.

In the places that matter most.

Where we are loved, is where we belong. Even if those places get run down, messy, beat up and broken. That makes the belonging all the more important. That is the belonging you fight for. That’s the love you never give up on. 

That is family. 

Find those places. Love those people. Take out your heart. Work through the mess and walk through the joy.

They might share your DNA, or they might not. There’s no limit, it doesn’t matter.

Give love. Share love. Receive love.

Love when it’s hard.

Will they remember you? Will they know you? 

Indeed they will.