My grandmother.

I’m not sure how much longer she has left.

Yesterday, she had another stroke. My mom caught her.

Last year, almost to the day, no one caught her. She spent the next few months in the hospital and it’s only by a miracle that she’s still here. That and her crazy determination.

My relationship with her is complicated. She’s a complicated person.
But she’s determined. Oh, so, determined.

And she’s hilarious. She can have an entire room crying from laughter in a matter of seconds. When her and my mom really get going, grab the popcorn and sit back. The two of them together is one of my favorite things to witness.

I imagine in her younger days, if her and I were the same age, we would probably be friends. She might intimidate me a bit–her vivaciousness, charisma, unfiltered opinion–but I think she’d probably encourage me. Perhaps not vocally, but with her personality. Her determination would inspire me to be louder and more unfiltered in moments that I’ve been quiet.

She’s loyal. She can also hold a grudge like nobody’s business. I used to think I was nothing like my grandma, but I see those two characteristics in myself now, the latter being one I’m working through so it doesn’t one day become the existence of my old age.

She shows her love through food. I have eaten so much food at her house. Beanie-weenies with cornbread, biscuits and gravy, spaghetti and meatballs, tacos, fried chicken…all of these which I have eaten at 8am when she’s knocked on my door first thing in the morning because there is a plate of spaghetti and meatballs ready for me.

Last winter was really challenging after she fell. The damage done to her brain came out in painful ways. Salt on old wounds. Words you must forgive again because you realize time is fleeting. Family is fleeting.

I don’t know if Row will meet her before she goes. It’s a painful realization I’m wrestling with, one that is heightened because I know how much my grandma means to my mom. We are each four daughters, three mothers, two grandmothers and one great-grandmother, tied together through blood, tradition, time and memories.

I hope she can find peace inside of her. Her fear of death is real. It’s real to us, too. Real because it’s inevitable. We know it’s coming. We can’t stop it. We can’t protect her. We can’t give any of us a different fate.

And so I ask for peace.


Begin with the end in mind.

Begin with the end in mind. 

The other day I was reading pointless articles online (you know, the rabbit hole of the Internet), but then I came across one called something like “35 celebrities you didn’t know who died.” I clicked it immediately and for the next hour found myself googling name after name, reading everything I could read about their lives and their deaths. I was telling Eric about it later, too, about my weird fascination with death. I tried to justify my statements, saying that I wasn’t into death in like a super weird way but that I just found death to be an… interesting topic. Something none of us can avoid. Something many of us fear. Something none of us have any idea about what it’s like until it happens to us, but then we’re gone, and we can’t even describe it or write about it. And it’s the ones that are left to watch the rest of life unfold. 

This past year, Eric and I have both had our closest friends lose a parent. It’s heartbreaking and surreal and you feel helpless for them. You feel pain, but it’s pain for your friend, and it’s only a fraction. You can’t truly understand their pain unless you’ve been through it yourself. Your words only can mean so much, and sometimes you probably say the wrong thing, but you try. You try and be there so they know that they’re not alone in their darkest pain.

Begin with the end in mind.

This is the phrase that circles my thoughts this morning. We, as humans, crave change. We crave change that gets us from A to B, B being what allows us to finally “make it.” Making it being where we are finally successful, finally where we want to be. Whether it be marriage, graduating, having a baby, buying a home, getting that dream job… We think that when those moments happen, life finally begins.

But no. Oh no, no no.

Someone said today that, “what’s unsaid may not ever be said, and we only know this in a house of mourning.” This really resonated with me, and it made me realize why I have a fascination (if that’s even the right word, perhaps, curiosity is a better word) with death. It’s because death keeps me grounded. Death reminds me that each morning, when I wake up, I have to begin my day with the end in mind. Because I won’t “make it” in life when a certain goal in life happens. That goal may never happen. I may be gone tomorrow, I don’t know. But I do know that I have *right now*. Right now, this very moment. I have this very moment to choose to live. To choose joy. To choose joy despite facing the worst circumstances or the most annoying circumstances or whatever those circumstances might be. 

Live each day as if it’s your last. I think this phrase has become so popular that it has lost all of its meaning. It’s pasted across tee shirts and Pinterest boards. It’s a catch phrase meant to pump you up. Stating this statement makes you seem like you’re living life to the fullest, but are we really? Are we really when we’re arguing with one another over whether to sleep with the fan setting on one or two? Are we really when we’re spending hours online each day comparing our lives to others, or even reading articles on death? Are we really living life to the fullest when we respond in anger rather than in patience?

Each and every single one of us are going to die one day. We all have this in common, and as hard as it is, it isn’t something we should fear. A few years ago I would have nightmares where I felt like I was dying and I would wake up literally gasping for air in a complete panic. I was so scared of dying or of a loved one dying. It paralyzed me with fear.

But one day I realized I had to let go. I had to let go of this fear in order to live again. I had to let go in order to begin each day with the end in mind. Not as something haunting me, but as a reminder to stay grounded. To accept both life and death, as they are, and instead, try my hardest to live, and not as if it were my last day, but simply with the end in mind. 

It’s the end that grounds us. It’s the universal commonality we all have. It’s something so terribly heartbreaking that it probably teaches us more about life than anything else in this world does. It’s something that can bring us all together. It’s something that can give us patience, love, exploration, curiosity, adventure, perseverance, motivation, kindness…

Begin with the end in mind.
Begin with the end in mind.
Begin with love in mind.
Begin with patience in mind.
Begin with kindness in mind.
Begin with the end in mind.

This is what I choose to do.