February 14, 2011

two hearts in the snow

This is about love, first and foremost. It's also about severe mercy. In Sheldon Vanauken's book A Severe Mercy, he speaks about love and the loss of it. Through his life's story he reveals the truth that love will be lost, one way or the other: either through falling out of love or death. Death, in his opinion, is the merciful way to lose love. With that being said, we go on, into the severe mercy of it all.

A little over a month ago, my world was rocked by the relatively sudden death of my most precious grandfather.

The details don't matter. What does matter is this: that he lived a long life, well lived and surrounded by those that he loved and that adored him in return. He left us with a legacy of loving your family well and intentionally, caring for your neighbor, giving to those that are in need and living a life full of integrity, loyalty and honor.
I'm not sure if it gets much better than that.

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That being said, his death was no easy pill to swallow. Selfishly, we miss him and wish he were still here with us. But we rest--we have to rest-- in knowing that his body is whole now; that he is living a new life of perfect eternity. How grateful I am for this.

I know that posting something so personal and so seemingly sad may seem like an odd choice for Valentine's Day. But I want to share the sweetest story of love and comfort that came from our time of brokenness.

It was this past January and it had been snowing for days upon days on end. Even for the mountains of East Tennessee, this was unusual. My grandmother, who embodies Spring, kept saying, "This would be so much easier if the sun would just come out... if it would just stop snowing." We all agreed; sometimes you just need a little sunshine.

On the morning of the funeral, the flakes continued to fall and the raw weather echoed our heart's condition. We arrived at the funeral home to have our last viewing before the casket was closed. While the rest of us were shuffling our feet and sniffling our noses, my sweet mother, who inherited her mother's essence of April and May, reached a crumbling point. She snuck off to the window of the funeral home to compose herself and pray for extraordinary strength and comfort. When she lifted her head, she opened her eyes to this: two hearts in the snow.

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She came racing into the room, exclaiming what she saw. We hurried to the window and stood in amazement of what we were looking at! In a time so heavy with grief, we were given the sweetest, most creative gift of compassion.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Matthew 5:4

What makes this story even sweeter is the marriage that my grandparents had for more than 58 years. Over Christmas my grandparents were asked what the secret to such a long marriage was. My granny said, "Oh, well, we're friends!" My grandfather, without skipping a beat said, "We just love each other. We don't argue or fuss--we never have! We just love each other!" A few short weeks after this conversation, we stood around his casket before it was closed for the last time. My grandmother leaned into him and whispered, "See you later, Sweetheart."
Amen. Amen. Hallelujah.

So today, on this day that celebrates love, inspired by the Greatest Love of all, I say we challenge ourselves to be bold with our affection, strive to show glimmers of love to all, compassionate to those who are difficult to love and cherish our time with our nearest and dearest.

ex-oh-ex-oh-ex-oh
xoxoxo

25 comments:

Stacey H said...

Oh goodness that brought tears to my eyes! Thanks for sharing and love to you and yours.

nikaela marie said...

oooh. i am sorry. i can relate to the pain of loosing a grandparent. i still say it was the hardest thing i have ever done and it was five years ago now. prayers for you and your family... we are so blessed to have had these amazing people in our lives. happy day of love. (!!)

ps. i have found that my oma continues to teach me and love me and inform my life greatly to this day, long after she passed away.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. Just yesterday our beloved grandfather's "lady friend" who lived with him for 20+ years after his dear wife (my grandmother) passed away lost her battle with some health issues and passed away. She was very precious to us and the last "grandparent" type person I had in my life. I already miss her and I miss my grandfather who passed away almost 6 years ago so much. Please just know that I needed to hear the words you posted today, not just it being the day after her passing, but it also being Valentine's Day. Thanks again!

arielle said...

wow, what a beautiful and honest post....so glad i stumbled upon your blog. many blessings to you & yours.

HMHudson said...

What a beautiful love story. Being a year and a half into my marriage...I see this as my future and it's such a beautiful thing. I try not to even think about losing my best friend (even if it is 60 years from now). Thank you for sharing your heart.

Kellie Lutito said...

Sweet Chels,
I love you so much and thanks for this sweet post honoring Grandpa Joe today. I only pray that Jeremy and I have that love after 58 years! What a sweet gift from the Lord he was to you and your family. I'm excited to raise a glass to him tonight with you:)

{BlueEyedYonder} said...

What a beautiful post and also a beautiful reminder to cherish every moment we have with our loved ones. The two hearts in the snow made me tear up. Such a sweet blessing for you and your family. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Happy Valentine's Day sweet, sweet girl.

arre said...

precious! nothing like a little afternoon tear shedding to really put valentine's day into perspective. thanks, sweet girl. xx

talamarieb said...

Thank you.

Your family sounds exquisite.

I too love the story of Sheldon and Davey in A Severe Mercy.

+

jessica marie said...

oh chelsea! this post brought me to tears, in the most wonderful & touching ways. still thinking of you gals...you're hearts & souls are golden and i thank you for sharing this!



also, by bizarre coincidence, my post today shows a similar mini sign on the ground outside of trim (3 years ago..)

happy valentines day, love. <3.

leigh said...

Here I am, crying in public. :)
What a gorgeous post and wonderful love story -- thank you SO much for sharing.
<3 leigh

Needle & Twine said...

Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful story of the Lord's Love and Mercy to us; touched my heart today. Amen to loving others who are difficult when it is difficult, and cherishing our time with our loved ones. So easy to forget how little time we have on this Earth.
But rejoicing in the gift to meet our sweet creator afterwards.
I hope much peace is in your hearts and you feel God's loving arms around you.
Much Love to you,
Lindsay

Anonymous said...

this made me cry.

Elise / Pennyweight said...

this is really beautiful... i'm so sorry for your loss, lovely! praying for you and your family. thanks for sharing! xoxo

Billy Angel said...

Thank you for sharing this post. It is very moving, beautiful and real. Your family sounds really wonderful.

Shannon said...

Chelsea, Thank you for sharing the most tender words and sharing your deepest feelings. What a wonderful man and amazing family you have. We continue to pray for each of you. Lots of love, ShanShan

Molly Webb said...

bread of life. thank you.

Carolyn said...

Oh, wow. I often read your blog for the beautiful weddings and crafts. But this post took my breath away. Thank you for sharing.

KELLI TRONTEL said...

i am so very sorry to hear of your loss, sweet Chelsea. as you know....2o1o was a rough year for me, but how awesome it is to have HOPE in our future.

i love that you got to witness a little "God nod" in the parking lot....the little reminders from our merciful Lord that He loves us and cares for us in our time of need.

thank you for sharing....XOXO

Amy said...

the hearts in the snow ... a sign from above that your dear loved one is okay and sending love and comfort to all of you. since my mom passed away I have seen many signs. they are still with us. just in another room. I have heard/read that heaven isn't really too far away. someone told me that they believed it was only 3' above our heads. your dear grandpa is close just call his name . thank you for sharing this.

MaieDae said...

What is so beautiful about your grandfathers legacy is the fact that you have the example and opportunity to continue passing that down through the generations of your family. It's so beautiful to see a family founded in faith and character and inspiring their children and their children's children through their walk.

chelsea {oh, my deer!} said...

thank you--all of you sweet things--for such precious comments and for your own stories of your seasons of mourning. i loved reading your words and hearing your stories. blessings to you and yours.

-chelsea

lillyella said...

oh Im so sorry for your loss sweet friend. My father passed away the day after you posted this, so I can relate to so much. Like your hearts in the snow, emerging from 20° temps, we had 65° weather, in Cleveland, in mid February, for the two days of his service. Essentially a little miracle. hugs and love our way. xo

Holly Rainey said...

What a sweet post. I cried the first time I read it and then had to read it to my husband except that I could not read the part where your grandma whispered 'see you later sweetie' to your darling grandpa. He had to read that part b/c I had to cry again for that most enduring sentiment. The verse that came up on the link to the greatest love site was Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge...that is going to be my next inspored quote on my blog and will be posted up in my studio. Thank you for sharing such a sweet photo and story. It inspires me as a mom of four to keep showing my love in all ways and every minute, because that is the sweetest legacy of all!
holly r. @camp tried and true

Holly Rainey said...

What a sweet post. I cried the first time I read it and then had to read it to my husband except that I could not read the part where your grandma whispered 'see you later sweetie' to your darling grandpa. He had to read that part b/c I had to cry again for that most enduring sentiment. The verse that came up on the link to the greatest love site was Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge...that is going to be my next inspored quote on my blog and will be posted up in my studio. Thank you for sharing such a sweet photo and story. It inspires me as a mom of four to keep showing my love in all ways and every minute, because that is the sweetest legacy of all!
holly r. @camp tried and true