Three years ago I took a wonderful trip with my mom to Newfoundland. I knew that her health wasn’t good, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to create some special moments together.

It was everything I had hoped for.

Walks down the lane and around the cove, dancing in her childhood home, Newfie meals with family, finding special treasures at the beach, visiting the little sheds, and walking along the sands will always be some of my most cherished memories.

Most important of all, was seeing my Gramma. It had been so long and she was now in an extended care facility. I got to sit by her side, feed her apricot squares, hold her hand and make her tea. Tell her I loved her one last time, as she passed away a couple months later.

It was such a gift.

I also took something else really important away from that trip, and that was how to care for someone who always loved and cared for you. We never grew up with our Grandparents close by, and I hadn’t experienced walking through the later stages of life with someone I loved. As I sat by that bedside in NL, and immersed myself in my Mom’s family world for a week, I did a lot of watching. I observed my dear family care for my Gramma and it deeply touched my heart. I know it was hard, it likely wasn’t perfect all the time, but it was family. I had never really seen that kind of care close up. I learned and I saw what it meant to love through the hardest of seasons.

To be present when it’s not easy.

To care for the one who always cared for you. 

I fast forward to now, and this imperfect, messy path that we’re stumbling down. When it’s more than I can bear, I close my eyes and think about the love that I saw in that hospital room three years ago.

I take what I remember, and I mix it in with where I’m at and it’s a big, messy, overflowing recipe of grace, emotions, and things that I don’t know if I’ll ever sort. But I try to make a list because someday I’ll look back, or I’ll be here again and I don’t want to forget the ingredients of hard life times because all the pain is mixed with joy and love.

It’s like the grandest of love stories while you sit and hold your sweet momma’s hand and she says you are beautiful. When you watch her gaze into your dad’s eyes because he loves her so well. When you hear her tell your brother that he’s so good. When she sees her grandchildren and breaks into a big smile. Reaching down to embrace her sister. How can the hardest times also be the most beautiful?

Pain is great where love is real.

So we try our best.

Love the best we can

Stay even when it’s hard

Get help when the pain is strong

Care for ourselves so we can make it through

Trust God because He’s the one who gave us all these gifts.

I remember that love that I’ve seen, the love I’ve been given and the love that I’m living so I can carry it forward in the way that I go in the future.

It won’t be the last time the days are hard, but there is hope and grace for all the days ahead.

Loving the one who always loved me.

So I can love others better too.