I’m back. Remember those tears I talked about in the last post? Let’s start there . . .
My phone rang around noon on Monday, January 11 while I was doing pilates. My mom. Strange. I did the math—on my fingers. I should have the time change down by now. (Insert embarrassed emoji.) 5 am. No way my parents should be up right now. My stomach instantly somersaulted. The missed call was followed by texts from both my dad and my brother alerting me to call my mom. Concern turned to panic. As I dialed, I realized I was holding my breath. When the news hit my ears I instantly exhaled burst of tears. I didn’t even quite understand the details just yet. My dad instructed me to hand over the phone to my husband so he could relay the facts to a less hysterical person.
Taylor wrapped me up in his arms and began to relay the facts. I struggled to focus on his words. I knew this day was inevitable, but it still seemed so far away. He’s strong, though. Surely everything would be fine. “Your dad will call later, as soon as they know something,” Taylor said.
Fast forward to “later.” There were two hard phone calls later that day. I’m not sure which was tougher. I’m also not sure if the news itself was the hardest part, or if the reality that I was thousands of miles away that contributed.
As I got the news that my grandfather was hours, maybe minutes, maybe seconds away from drawing his last breath, I could only squeak one sentence out between sobs. “Dad, just tell him I love him, ok?”
Taylor left for practice, leaving me alone, waiting. My phone buzzed. Mom. “He’s dancing on the streets of heaven now,” she said. The news was inevitable at that point, but still not any easier. I sobbed on the phone with my mom. We hung up. She had loads to do. I sat in my Italian living room alone and cried. I tried to process the news. I like to talk through, well, everything. With no one to talk to, I turned to my computer. As I typed, a peace washed over me. My greatest comfort was two fold. 1. Although I couldn’t say goodbye to my Papa, I knew I would one day say hello again in heaven. 2. I hoped and prayed that his death would somehow glorify God and bring hope to someone.
Now would be a good time to take a break (if you need it). Come back after the kids are in bed and you’re cozy on the couch. Or, maybe come back while or waiting in line or in traffic or on the toilet–if that’s your thang. (Hey! No judgement here!)
My trip back to the states was nothing short of bitter sweet. Altogether, it was much more needed than I expected.
The plane ride was as solemn as I anticipated. I had not quite anticipated the tears shed in the following few days, though. Of course, funeral equals tears. But how could one ache for someone so greatly when they barely saw them to begin with? Don’t get me wrong. I saw my grandparents plenty. They were pillars in my life since I was born. Since I can remember, and even before my memory locked into play, I would go and stay with them, often for weeks at a time. But, life happens. I usually saw my grandparents on major holidays and whenever I made it home—we made it a priority. But, I do live in Italy, after all. The times I could make it home seemed fewer and fewer. Still, his absence was unavoidably apparent, and this realization often manifested as salty wetness and black streaks on my face. (I was unable to score any waterproof mascara before my last minute flight.)
My heart ached just as much for my grandpa as it did for my grandma, the lone survivor of their 65 years together. I watched her frown turn upside down as family members traveled from around the world to be with her. Tears of sadness turned into tears from laughter as cousins and nephews and nieces and friends and sisters and sons and daughters and grandchildren told stories and shared memories. Her strength was admirable but took a backseat those first few days to the awe-inspiring reputation of my grandpa. His legacy could not be ignored. More than just his legacy, more than honoring the selfless life he lived, more than witnessing his love for Jesus, more than admiring his adoration for my grandma, was the inspiration it left for each person lucky enough to have known him. He will surely be missed, and like I said before, we rest assured that we will see him again. But, the greatest testament to his life wasn’t just the people he impacted while alive, but those impacted after he is gone. A little piece of my grandpa still lives in each of us reminding us to be our best, to serve the Lord with all our might, to live selflessly, and, most importantly, to live without regrets.
That seemed like such a perfect ending don’t you think? But, I’ve only really addressed one piece to this puzzle. Slowly the sour taste that brought me home turned sweet as I hugged necks, saw familiar faces, and, honestly, just talked. I hadn’t quite realized how much I needed to talk to someone in English, besides my husband. My heavy heart began to lift. As the cares floated away, so did any resolve to write or take pictures or, really, care about anything else than the smiling faces before me.
This notion makes perfect sense don’t you think? Lets break down the facts just be sure. 1. Death in the family 2. Time off from work is expected 3. My work goes with me and consists of writing and taking pictures (Er, that point might work against me, actually. Before I scratch it out, let me note that I DID bring my computer and DID intend to work. . . a little.) 4. I’m still new at this. I even questioned if anyone would notice if I wavered from the strict double post a week schedule I had originally set for myself. 5. I needed to spend time with friends and family. A point that became more and more apparent the longer I was there.
All in all, I felt quite validated in this executive decision that I made in the meeting with myself. The decision being, framily (friends+family) first. Blog and pictures, and all they entail, second–if at all.
The guilt didn’t set in until, well, probably at the first comment from my husband. Wasn’t is Eleanor Roosevelt that said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent?” I wish that were true. Please understand that my husband in no way intended to make me feel inferior. He merely asked out of curiosity and ready to encourage if I had lost momentum. I assured him I was just taking some time. A few days later he sent another text encouraging me to “up my IG game.” I knew he had my best interest at heart, but that pang of guilt hit me again. I knew he was right, though, especially since it had been days since I had posted anything.
New purpose. If I wasn’t posting on the blog, I would work to post great pictures on Instagram. Reality. I got 5 pictures during the 3 weeks I was in the states. If you average 1-2 pictures a week then this seems on schedule. I once read in a book about blogging that you should post 1-2 times a day, if you wanted to remain relevant that is. Math isn’t my strong suit, but I’m pretty sure I was behind. The more I tried to take good pictures or document the fun I was having, the harder it seemed to get. I tried to push the thoughts out of my head, but they all came swirling back with each friendly comment from friends or family about the blog or if I was working on it now. I explained I was taking this time off. They understood. But the guilt pangs got sharper and bigger and more frequent. I rationalized that now was my time to soak in all the fun. Once I got back to Italy, and had loads of free time, I would get back on track. Ahem. Easier said than done.
Before I fast forward to arriving back in Italy, I want to note an important revelation. (Maybe revelation is a strong word. Reminder might be more appropriate.) While at times I felt “guilty” for my lack of social media (blog included) presence, I do think it was EXACTLY what I needed. It was what was right for my right then. I love social media. It somehow keeps me grounded. Sure it can be a waste of time. Sure it can be annoying. Sure it can be fake. But it also makes me somehow feel relevant. I’ve felt more connected, while living in Italy, to friends and family through social media than texts or phone calls.
BUT, (and this is a big, ate too much chocolate and did no cardio and it went straight to my BUTT, but) sometimes social media is just, well, distracting. Sometimes, we care TOO much about capturing the moment than living it. I try to balance this quandary the best I can. Harder said than done. The point? I needed to simply enjoy laughing, loving, and living with my friends MORE than I needed the perfect picture. I never got up on my high horse (His name is Claudius) and proclaimed to the world that I was taking a “break” from social media. I’ve seen way too many Friends episodes to go down the “we’re on a break” path. It just seemed to happen naturally.
So, that’s it. That’s why I haven’t been as present on the blog and Instagram and Facebook and Snapchat. Thanks for listening.
If only it were that simple. . .
It made sense to post less (or at all) while in the states. But, why wasn’t I posting when I got back to Italy? Why couldn’t I get back on track? What was my excuse or my problem or my motive now?
Wow! I have taken up WAY too much time today. Tomorrow? Same place. Same time. I’ll finally finish unburdening my heart so we can move on to all the fun stuff. Food. Parties. Products. Fashion. Fun. And all that jazz!!
Can’t wait for tomorrow! I cherish this time with you.
Oh, the places you’ll go. Part 3. Coming tomorrow!!!