Monday, October 21, 2013

the things that matter most... (the big reveal)



"The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are moments when we touch one another, when we are there in the most attentive or caring way. This simple and profound intimacy is the love that we all long for. "  ~Jack Kornfield



I've been alluding to some events from our last two days of our trip that profoundly impacted me- more than I could possibly express.  The tears, long withheld, cloud my eyes as I reflect back this gloomy and wet Sunday morning.

While in Nashville our first day, it was the first photo of Nashville that I posted on instagram that my beautiful friend, Shannon, commented on.

"Are you in Tennessee?" She asked.

As soon as I saw it, something stirred inside me.  Why hadn't I thought of it sooner? 

Shannon, herself living in Tennessee, had asked me to come visit her when we went to Myrtle Beach last spring.  We drove right through her town.  But we had family with small children anxiously waiting for us in Greenville, SC.  And somehow I knew I wanted more than a couple of minutes to see Shannon and the girls.

Do you all remember Shannon? Or the Shan Clan as our dear Sara (Gitzen Girl) so often referred to them?  

This is a screen capture of Sara and Shannon with "Grace girl" and "Pearl girl."  Sara had her own names of affection for them.



Shannon and Jason and the girls would drive 15 hours, just to be with Sara for a few days.  Behind the scenes, Shannon used her flip camera to video moments from their day and share them daily with Sara.  If Sara wasn't leaving her house, the world was coming to her through two adorable girls and their momma,  who all travel extensively for dance competition and shows.  

It was Shannon who so graciously wrote Sara's blog when Sara entered hospice and started the last stage of her journey home.  Shannon so eloquently kept us all informed, while epitomizing the true meaning of friendship and love that knows no bounds.


And when Sara left us for her heavenly home, it was Shannon, who would text me, send me cards and notes, loving me, praying for me, from afar.  

Why hadn't I thought of this sooner?  Embrace!   Now- was the time to go and meet Shannon! 


Despite a late night out to the Grand Ole Opry, (will blog at a later time), Rick and I left Nashville last Friday morning to drive a few hours to meet our Shannon... finally.





I never would have dreamt, conjured in my brain, believed- I'd ever meet or see Shannon face to face.  That I'd have my own cheek, touching hers, just like she was able to with Sara.  

As most of you know, I tried on 3 separate occasions to visit Sara myself, who was a 10 hour drive from our house.  But there was a massive flood the one year.  And Sara was sick the second time and unable to have visitors.  The third time, I was having not just chemo, but surgery at the time of her funeral.  



So Rick and I met the Shan Clan.  We spent an entire afternoon at their beautiful house.  We ate delicious food, laughed at the funny and utterly adorable girls.  Watched an impromptu dance recital that would literally blow your socks off.  And just had such a heart-filling, soul-nourishing, wonderful time. 

I could have stayed all night- and they certainly extended the invitation.  But we still had several hours to get to Louisville.  

One of the last "gifts" I received- because really, knowing Shannon is the biggest gift of all- was a bag with goodies, including the beautiful choose joy pillow from above.  Sara had received one, Shannon had one, and now I had one.  Talk about connecting the dots!  Speak of the aligning stars!

I clung to that pillow all the way to Louisville, and off and on throughout our drive the next day where we eventually ended up in Des Moines, Iowa.

And this is when the thought occurred to me. 

Again- out of nowhere- it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Embrace...

I scoured my phone for the name, the location, the address.

It was clearly out of our way, but if we zig-zagged some of the back country roads, could we do it?

Rick was all in.  

Any guesses where we decided to go?

It was 5 years in the making...  October 6th, 2008 was the first time she officially came over to leave me a comment on my blog.  

Our "story" began to grow from that moment on.  

As a stay-at-home mom, I had few moms home during the day time hours.

But here was my new friend- who was home- day and night.  Once I figured out how open she was to communicating, the emails, texts, and comments flew between us.

I was so non-techie. She laughed and gave me a link tutorial.

It felt like we were kindred spirits in so many regards.  

When I talked her into using her inspiring quotes as blog buttons and offering to pay for them to be made- she surprised me by learning code all on her own.  

When I asked her big questions about her faith- she wrote blog posts with bigger answers than I could have ever discovered on my own.  

I watched as others began to embrace her message, her faith, her indomitable spirit.  Her blog grew, her audience grew, and above all else my bond with her was based on pure and unconditional love, like I've rarely experienced.

She mentored me so, and it was I for the longest time who thought she needed me.

Oh how I've learned.

Quite honestly, looking back, I think God placed her in my life to prepare me for my own journey through a life-threatening illness.  And to show me what pure love feels like.


Have you figured out who she is by now?

 After almost 5 years to the date, I finally got to "meet" my beloved Gitz!! 

I traveled almost directly from Shannon, to our sweet Sara- with my choose joy pillow firmly in my hands.








I sat in such peace and tranquility.  I cried on and off the entire way there.  Emptying... to fill... as she taught me. 

I made a video of the whole experience.  It didn't survive my still technically inept hands!  Some things just don't change.  

But I forever have her etched into the fabric of my heart.  

We didn't meet on this side of heaven.

But, one day- girlie- in God's perfect timing- we will be reunited. 


































45 comments:

  1. Melissa has left a new comment on your post "The things that matter most... (the big reveal)":

    I loved reading this, because I could in feel the joy coming through your words. And you look just beautiful in the pictures, especially at Sara's grave (is that strange to say?).

    I've seen that pillow somewhere recently and was so tempted to pick it up for myself. I'm going to have to go find it again.

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    1. No- not strange to say- any more than I felt both peaceful and joyful just being there :) So thank you for saying that. Yes- the pillow is awesome and I literally smile every time I see it. Hugs- be around to visit soon :)

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  2. Oh Vicky, I just sat down in the sunshine here in my living room - where I would so often read Sara's words of encouragement. As always, I was delighted to find you in my feedly Reader.

    Imagine my delight to see the photos of you meeting Shannon and her family ... and then the tears that sprang as I saw you sitting at Sara's grave. How is it possible for a headstone to be joyful? Yet it is.

    Thank you so much for sharing this special journey, truly a uniquely blessed portion of your trip. Praying for you over here, lifting you up to the Father. God bless.

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    1. Susan- I know- it IS joyful and I was so touched to simply be there. I should have done a rubbing of some kind- but didn't think of it soon enough. I'm just so stinkin happy I got to be there! Thank you friend for the prayers and love! God's blessings to you~

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  3. Vicky, thank you so much for sharing your life and teaching us how to walk. What a blessing you are and so are the others--Sara and Shannon-- and many more. You are a beautiful inspiring women.
    May God's blessing over flow,
    Teresa

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    1. Teresa- I have no doubt so many women see you in exactly that same way. Thank you for the encouragement and kindness- Blessings and love to you!

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  4. Trying to contain myself---------Oh, Vicky. Holy Goose Bumps. I curled my toes under praying you'd get to meet Shannon, and then you did. Then the ending totally surprised me!! And your Choose Joy pillow. So much love from rainy Georgia this morning!!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

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    1. Oh Julie- I know- I so knew many of you would get this and will hopefully get some joy spilling over from it as well. Love to you sweet friend!

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  5. the sentence that made a lump swell in my throat was this one: Rick was all in.

    men don't usually "get" the relationships women share, but you have a Superman, don't you? it touched me deeply that he would go to meet Shannon, when he doesn't know Shan's husband or kids, and that he would drive you to Gitz's grave. all because of what it meant TO YOU.

    can't believe how much more grown Shannon's girls look!! and when did they move and why? for dance or for the Professor's work?

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    1. Jenn- he doesn't hear it often enough- but he is the best supporter and care taker I could ever hope for. He shouldered the burden of driving, hauling most of our stuff in and out each night- and so much more. He is "embracing" along with me. The girls are so grown up- so polite and fun to be around- Shannon and Jason have done an amazing job with them! xxoo

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  6. A beautiful uniting of forever friends....

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    1. Thank you Jackie- that is exactly how it feels.

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  7. And now you, dear Vicky, are doing for others exactly what your Gitz did for you. So much love, so many gifts from so many amazing beings. Thanks for sharing these 'detours' on your spiritual journey.

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    1. Thank you for coming here and leaving your thoughtful reflections always. I miss reading you- I truly garnered so much from you! A part of me feels like a part of Sara goes on every time we share what she taught us and its beautiful to see it play out through so many others.

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  8. Bonnie said exactly what I was thinking. I don't even remember how I originally came across Sara's blog and then yours....probably through comments to each other....but both have touched my heart deeply. I am a 20 year survivor and my husband just finished chemo, and I work in oncology as a nurse. Cancer and challenges surround my life every day, but God has also given me strength and joy and blogs like your's and Sara's to keep me grounded in faith and hope. To "choose joy" and to "embrace". I look forward to each and every post. You are in my prayers.

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    1. What a great profile pic Nancy- and how great to see you here! "A 20 year survivor" is mind blowing to me!! I'm in complete awe. And gosh- then to hear of your husband's chemo and the fact you are an oncology nurse? You know this journey in more ways than any person should have to. I feel so blessed to have you following along my own journey and am so glad you took the time to let me know. Hugs to you friend! I'm honored!

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  9. Too touching for any words I could say. *tear

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    1. Thank you friend- I think of you often and pray you all are well.

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  10. Sometimes...the silence and less words say more.... this had me in tears...I love how your dot's connected and these beautiful amazing women "God gifts" in your life! Hugs, love and continued prayers....always!

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    1. Thank you Peggy Sue- I know just what you mean- there isn't much more to be said. It will stay with me forever- for sure. Love and blessings to you!

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  11. Wow, what an amazing journey.. I loved Sara, like so many who never met her, but were inspired by her words. It was on Sara's blog that I was introduced to you and the Shan Clan. This post brought tears to my eyes. God bless you!

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    1. Thank you so much Jennifer! How sweet of you to stop by and leave such kind words-thank you!

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  12. Wow, beautiful post Vicky and it brought tears to my eyes. I truly believe we are all connected through God. What a wonderful experience. And Rick....he's an awesome husband!

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    1. Thank you so much Lisa- so true- I am indeed lucky in the hubby department :)

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  13. you did meet on this side of heaven - you knew each other better than many of us who physically see each other every day...That said, I'm glad you made the trip! We've never met, but do know how much you meant to Sara - thanks for the smiles and tears today :) hope you are well - Hoody

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    1. Oh gosh, I saw your name and was stuck for a minute- but then to glance down and see Hoody! Wow- so cool- literally made my day! Thank you for taking the time to come here- I think of you all so often and loved all the stories Sara would share about you. Clearly- she thought the world of you too. xxoo

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  14. This has me smiling from ear to ear and warming my heart with happiness that you got to meet some pretty awesome girls on this trip! :) You look beautiful in the pics!
    xoxo,
    Michelle

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    1. Thanks girlie- always great to hear from you!! Thinking of you :)

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  15. Oh Sweetie, I sit here and have tears in my eyes ... what wonderfull people you saw, the pillow and your visit at Sara!!!

    Awesome!

    Bussals and all my love
    Mimi

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    1. Bussals sweet friend- thank you for celebrating along with me! Love and many bussals to you!

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  16. Oh dear Vicky,
    Like Julie said, "Holy goose bumps." Like so many others, I got to know Sara first and she led me to you. Sara's pearls of wisdom contained such truth...they lit a path to Jesus. She reminded us to choose JOY. No matter what. Every day. And now you carry on her legacy and make your own path. What an absolute honor it is to share in both of your lives.

    The dots are connected and tears stream down my face. Oh Gitz, I miss you, yet know you
    are pain free in your heavenly home!
    God Bless!
    Hugs, Love, and constant prayers!
    Linda

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    1. Oh Linda- I so appreciate how much you encourage me and uplift me- always. You have a way with words my friend :) Love to you sweet friend!

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  17. Oh gosh Vicky This was so sad. and beautiful.

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    1. I know Vic- hopefully more beautiful than sad- it truly felt joyful mostly :)

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  18. How wonderful. I teared up simply reading this. So happy that you two got to "meet."

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    1. Hi Jenny- its always so great to see you here :) My tears joined yours- it was deeply felt for sure- truly a monumental moment for me :) Hope your school year is going well!

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  19. eek! it just got better and better! So very delighted you met Shannon and got to be with Sarah! so so happy for you! That pillow....

    Praying for more for you Vicky - more and more!!

    xoxo

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    1. Thank you Tiffany- I know- adding all three visits together- each one just compounded the blessed feeling I had. Thankful for your prayers sweet one! Hope you are well!

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  20. Wow! What an amazing and beautifully written story filled with so many blessings! So glad you shared it with us.

    Although I wish I could be there with you tomorrow, I will be sending my love and positive vibes your way. You will be fantastic, and I can't wait to hear all about it!


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    1. Thank you Steph! We missed you and others on Wednesday, but totally understood how difficult it was for you to maneuver doing that :) There is talk of next year already- maybe a different day will be offered?!?

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  21. Love this! So glad you got to make such a big connection of dots and people meaningful to you. It was Gitz that blog hopped me to you as well, and you are teaching me the gracefulness of blogging my story and living beyond cancer's limitations, just as she taught you. Hope your talk goes (went?) well this week.

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    1. Thank you Marcy! So glad you are chronicling your journey through bc and doing such a beautiful job of it too. Research is even saying that journaling through cancer can have a healthy impact on your life- I was so excited to read that recently! And yes- the talk went better than I could have hoped for :)

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  22. How wonderful that you got to meet Shannon and visit Sara. I remember well reading Sara's blog and the long trips Shannon and her girls made to visit Sara. It's such a blessing that you got to be with both of them on this trip. Embrace it and keep it with you always.

    Love and hugs, Eileen

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    1. I think Sara's blog is responsible for so many of us bloggers and followers meeting each other as we criss-crossed paths and blogs. I love this new gift of seeing it all come to life before my very eyes! Love and hugs to you Eileen!

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  23. LOVE this post! Choosing Joy with you..and sent you an email :) xo

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