grateful heart series (2) 

I could say I waited to do my next gratefulness post on Valentine’s Day on purpose, but that’s not true I’m just lazy.
On this Valentine’s Day, I am thankful for a man who tells me “there’s no reason to be stressed” enough times for me to believe it (and be annoyed). 

I’m thankful he is brutally honest when necessary. Like when he tells me I’m an irritable person. It’s true. I know it, most of my friends know it, but he has the balls to tell me. 

I am thankful that in the last (almost) 3 years we have learned that having our own hobbies and being our own people is massively important. 

I’m thankful for makeup.

I’m thankful for our incredible, hilarious neighbor. 

I’m thankful for people who want to buy the furniture we’ve had for less than a year because we’re already tired of it (oops).

I’m thankful for wine. 

I’m thankful for smart people who say things that make me throw my fist in the air and say YEAH. Like this:

Credit: Instagram @rupikaur_

All the praise hand emojis.

I’m thankful that I HAVE had strength and resilience in me, and that God has carried me through things I couldn’t handle alone.

I’m thankful for bible study books that challenge me to think about what I REALLY care about.

This week I am also thankful for all the things that have reminded me of my brother. Thursday marks 5 months since he passed and it seems to be getting a little easier to handle. Little things still catch my heart, though. Like last night the episode of Hawaii Five-0 nick and I watched was about a liver transplant (my brother had two of these) and this morning on the news they were discussing how organ donation numbers have risen in the last year.

These things make me smile through tears, thinking of him and how brave he was amidst all his medical issues. It will always be heartbreaking that he is gone, but I am happy remembering him as someone who survived because others were so generous. That being said, I’m thankful for every single person who has ever donated an organ or registered as a donor so their body can be used to save a life. I’m especially thankful for the two people who gave so my brother could have 25 years that he wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Happy Valentine’s Day, loves.

Hug your people tight today.

the box 

A box was delivered to my doorstep on Monday.
I was expecting it. Maybe I was even looking forward to it a little.

What I was not expecting was my reaction to it.

 

I saw it when I pulled into my driveway and felt a pit in my stomach. Nick took it inside, asked me what it was and I shrugged it off.

I picked it up to move it off the table and didn’t touch it again. I didn’t open it, just left it there.

 

 

Let me explain why this is weird.

 

I am the annoying person who tracks their packages from shipment to doorstep. If I don’t have a tracking number, I put the expected delivery date on my calendar so I don’t forget. Yeah. I’m that girl.

This time, I put the package out of my mind. Intentionally turned away every thought of it that came up.

With how this is sounding you’d think it was the box from the end of Seven…

When I get any other package, I open it immediately like it’s Christmas.

I do not feel like celebrating this one.

 

This package is more than a box FedEx had in their truck for a week.

This box holds a piece of a person I love – the only belongings I might ever receive of his.

A watch and an old OSU t shirt.

 

I have them now only because my cousin is incredibly generous.

This is a glimpse into the painful experience that was (and is) my brother’s passing.

 

I am estranged from my mother – the keeper of his things. I have seen others receive items – I have not.

 

This box carries grief. It is a tangible reality I push away by reflex.

 

It is a reality I must accept. His life on this earth has ended.

The items he owned are being distributed all over the country – a tribute to all the lives he touched.

 

I am eternally grateful to my cousin for sharing his portion with me.

I am terrified to open this box and simultaneously reopen my wounded heart.

 

Not having his things has allowed me to maintain a small level of “out of sight, out of mind” with this grief.

This will go away and my buddy will still be gone.

That cannot be avoided forever.

Neither can this box.

a new series

Who knew you could wake up and already have so many thoughts running through your head.

This morning I woke up like all other mornings. I turned off the alarm on my phone and checked my email, then scrolled through Instagram.

I immediately felt like I needed to wear a cute outfit so I could post something of value on my story like all the other bloggers do and why didn’t I go out last night?

My Friday night consisted of sitting at my kitchen table with dark chocolate and Benedict Cumberbatch – not out at a trendy bar. I immediately began feeling anxious and like my blog will never work because I’m not exciting enough as a person. I don’t go out all the time with 8 girls who take selfies and love bodysuits.

No, I’m the married girl who sits at home eating chocolate and watching Sherlock while her husband plays Battlefield 1 and Rainbow Six Siege. And yes, I do know a lot about these games. We’ll still interact with each other on these nights, but this is our favorite way to unwind after a really long, exhausting week.

It takes me typing this to feel like that’s not super lame. Today, Nick is snowboarding. He left while I was still sleeping and today I will be running errands and Skyping with my friend who lives in NC. This is not massively interesting, so I feel some sense of insecurity having a blog. What am I going to post about that people will care to read? I don’t have all this money to spend on clothes at Nordstrom – will I make it as a blogger? You might giggle at this fear, but if you look at most lifestyle/fashion bloggers, they will be on liketoknow.it and they will have been shopping at Nordstrom, among other places. I do not have money or the desire really to buy a $100 cardigan. I’d rather go to H&M and get it for $30 or on sale at Old Navy for $25. I have this idea in my head that to be the blogger I want to be, I have to be like all the other ones.

It’s terrifying, being different than the rest. I’m sure there are other bloggers like me in the vast expanse of people taking up this business/hobby – but are they successful?

Money carries a business – investments lift a brand off the ground and launch it into the mess that is the economy. My investment in this is a little different. My investment is prayer.

I’m thankful I do not have money to spend on all those silly Nike Free Runs that cost $100 or more. I’m also thankful that I have a husband to tell me “Babe, you do not need that.” And who would not be happy with me if I spent the money for bills on some shoes. I have built in accountability there, and I know it’s God being gracious and offering me some boundaries – because I am the type to spend like crazy and not notice the consequences until it’s too late.

Side note – lately I have been typing and writing g’s where q’s go. Does this happen to anyone else?

I digress.

 

Last week at my book study with my church group, the weekly studies had been about realizing what we have so we don’t run off and search for happiness in getting something else.

I realized I do this just about every day. I scroll through these Instagram posts and like the ones that have any piece of clothing I’d like to have and then once I get the email (if you don’t know how liketoknow.it works you should find out – it’s amazing) I click on the piece I want and see how much it would cost. Usually, it’s from Nordstrom and it costs an entire arm, just short of a leg, so I’m incredibly disappointed. But sometimes, it’s H&M! Huzzah! And I think wow – I have to have this.

I have a running list in my phone of things I “need”. Things – not people, not character traits I should be developing, just “things”.

I am looking at my life going “I don’t have enough here – what would fill this hole?”

I’m entirely missing everything I have to be incredibly grateful for. All of this lengthy introduction to say this – I’m starting a weekly series on this topic. I’m going to post every Saturday about the previous week and all the things I’ve written down that I am thankful for. I’m going to keep a running list every day and make sure I do not miss what God has already provided for me.

 

Clothes, we are told, are not that important. Neither are purses or shoes or jewelry, but they are pretty and we want them. Or it’s a car, a new snowboard if you’re Nick, a new rechargeable battery pack for an Xbox controller or whatever else.

I have a dream life in my head where I can afford all the things I want and I fill this beautiful, white-walled home with gorgeous décor and all the Nordstrom clothes and shoes and purses and Baublebar jewelry I could want. Today, I tried to picture if I’d still be searching for more in that life.

I would. It would never be enough because truly, what my heart is yearning for is healing. I am desperately seeking happiness amidst pain I cannot fully understand.

So today starts the grateful heart series.

(Photo via Pinterest)

2/2:

  1. a job – a CEO who thanks me for working for him
  2. Lisa Wolfe – if you know her, this needs no explanation
  3. Ashley Mason, my therapist (no shame in needing therapy, people. Life can rly suck)

2/3:

  1. Nick’s job! He might be up for a promotion!!!
  2. Cute clothes to wear
  3. Chrissy Teigen’s tweets
  4. $8 nails at Walgreen’s – here 
  5. NO INVERSION (Salt Lake City probs)
  6. Therapy only being $15 !!

2/4:

  1. my amazing step-mom
  2. candles
  3. Sherlock – Benedict Cumberbatch is insanely talented and his wit is ridiculous
  4. This American Life  on Pandora!
  5. Planes – so family can visit
  6. Skype
  7. COFFEE
  8. my socks that say “bite me”
  9. You! Whoever, you are, because you’re reading this really long post
  10. Comfy sweaters that feel like blankets
  11. and of course, soft blankets.

 

I started this idea on Wednesday, so it’s a short list this week.

What are you grateful for today? I’d love to hear! Feel free to share in the comments below. 

 

One Year in Utah!

January 18th, 2017 marked one year that Nick and I have been living in Utah! It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year- it flew by.

We have been through so much in this year. There have been joys and sorrows, celebration and mourning. Through it all, we have seen the stability and faithfulness of God. It has been quite a year.

I enjoyed going through photos from the past 365 days, looking back on all of our adventures and friends we’ve made.

In the beginning of the year, we lived with Jordan Wiebe in a tiny basement apartment. The end of January was us moving our things in, reorganizing the apartment and decorating the bare walls. We made the place our home for 3 months and then got out of the dungeon.

We had visitors pretty quickly. My dad came out to help as did Nick’s parents and sister. My dad ended up finding a lot of things wrong with the apartment – the dryer wasn’t filtering itself outside, it was disconnected and was just pumping hot air into the apartment! Ew. Luckily, my dad is basically Mr. Fix It. He connected the dryer outside and also found out the bathroom fan wasn’t filtering itself either! So he fixed that too, naturally.


While family was here, we skied and showed them around the little of our new city that we knew. We tried Red Iguana as a suggestion from my dad and never stopped going. It’s Nick’s favorite restaurant now! We were blessed with very generous parents who all chipped in for us to have all the supplies we needed – food, toiletries, a dresser, mirrors, etc. They hung our stuff up with us and cleaned our kitchen. We thanked them with discounted skiing and missed them as soon as they were gone.


When we moved out here, Nick had a job lined up at Canyons Resort in Park City. He worked there with Jordan and I spent a lot of my days in the dungeon (I affectionately call it this now).  A lot of these days, I cried. I didn’t know how much I’d miss my friends and proximity to family. I was crushed and pretty bitter. I was angry that I had been called to follow my husband out here and I had no direction. Nick came home pretty unhappy every day too. He hated his job and was really antsy for something new almost immediately. It was nice that he could ski for free as an employee during that time – that was a huge load off us financially. But it became clear very quickly that this job was not going to last and I was glad.


Once February hit, I was actively searching for a job. The second week I had an interview and by the 22nd I had started a job at Medical Review Institute of America. If you’ve asked me about this job, you know I’m not exactly in love with it. I took the first job that was offered to me because I knew how badly Nick wanted to quit and how much we could use the money to start saving more and more for our future. I’m good at this job, but I’m definitely not going to be doing it forever – I hope.

Those first months we spent a lot of time arguing because we were both trying to deal with all the emotions that come with moving 1700 miles away from home. We fought and we didn’t hold back. A lot of tears were shed in that dungeon. We were both angry, sad, and confused in our own ways. It was the most difficult time of our marriage.

The saving grace for us came in the form of The Well Church. We started going because Jordan had been since he moved. In the beginning, we had talked about going to different churches, trying them out to see which would the best fit for us. It was weird to me at first, how responsive the audience was to the pastor. It made me feel a little uncomfortable, having been raised Catholic. I even remembering telling my friend from home that I wasn’t sure about the Well. She suggested we give it at least 6 weeks to feel it out. I don’t even remember how many times it took me to decide that I liked the Well – maybe 3? It definitely didn’t take me 6. I was hooked.


The biggest thing I felt at the Well was an immediate community. I met a girl there, Erin (haha) and she invited me out with some other girls she had met at the Well. We were all pretty new to each other, but when I met up with them at Spitz (oh my gosh, the sandwiches here! – amazing) we immediately clicked. We got our food to go and went back to one of their apartments, ate and drank wine and danced. This was the most random group of girls, but we clicked so well and had so much fun together. I am forever grateful for how they accepted me and included me so well. One girl from Indiana, one from Texas, two from Utah, the Ohioan, and one from Wisconsin all ended up in Salt Lake. How does God do that?!


That was the first time in my life I had a “group” or “squad” of girlfriends instead of a sprinkling of friends. We hung out most weekends after that, and then one moved back to Texas. Ugh, Brit. It was crushing! We took farewell photos at Target that still make me giggle because five 20 something girls trying to take professional photos at Target is just ridiculous….


(Lol)

Nick and I made it a priority to explore Salt Lake and get to know the city. We went hiking on snow in April and ended up sliding down a snow covered frozen waterfall in shorts – I do not recommend that.


We hiked as much as we could and tried to remind ourselves that it was incredibly available to us. We are still not really used to having mountains in our backyard!

Speaking of which – we moved out of the dungeon in April and Nick also quit his job that month. Woof.

Our new place is wonderful. All white walls, a multitude of windows and a neighbor we’ve gotten incredibly close with.


This is our driveway. I mean just look at that view!

Over the year we went back to Ohio three times – the first was for my dad’s wedding to my step-mom. I loved that day. Too short of a trip though!


(Props to Corie Osterfeld for these awesome pics!!)

In May, we celebrated 2 years of marriage and went out for a fancy dinner.

The summer was our most active time! We traveled to Chicago for about 25 hours to go to my cousin’s wedding (no regrets) and the next weekend we drove to San Diego for another cousin wedding and stopped in Vegas! I never want to go back to Vegas, but San Diego was lovely. I’m a beach girl, I’d say.

And the next weekend…

As you can see by lack of photos, I did not like Vegas.

 

But this –

Later in June I got my hair dyed for the first time!! Despite my worries, it was so fun! I love balayage because I only have to get it done once a year! I think next time I’m going to go a little ashier – eep!

That summer we had so many visitors! Our friend Matt came to visit us and got the mountain fever. Matt, if you’re reading this, I know you’ll end up out here eventually. My bestie Dre came out in August for my birthday! Getting to host people in a new city in your newly furnished guest room is so much fun. On my actual birthday, Nick through me a surprise party and COMPLETELY shocked me. I’m oblivious, but he did an amazing job with it! So many people came that I love and it could not have been a better birthday.

Nick also started a new job in July! It was a huge answer to prayer and came from a guy we had met at the Well. We’d spend Thanksgiving at his family’s house in November – ugh, this church, what a blessing.
The last half of 2016 was pretty intense.
In early August, I lost my grandfather. A man I adored and looked up to more than anyone else. He was 94 and brilliant. I will miss him always. It was heartbreaking to not be at his funeral, but I got to speak to him before he passed and I will always treasure that.


A week later, I spent the weekend with those 5 girls + 1 new one who had just moved from Indiana. We rented a cabin in the woods, drank wine, danced, laughed until we cried and yelled at a scary movie. Well, I mostly yelled because I’m a wimp and everyone else yelled at me to shut up. It was so refreshing and beautiful. I want to do it again ASAP!


For my birthday, Nick got us tickets to see the musical Newsies in a beautiful old theatre in downtown Salt Lake. He’s a keeper. We got all dressed up, went to dinner and the musical and it was magical.

In mid-September, my dad and step-mom Teri came to Utah for a week! We drove down to a stay in a cabin exactly in between Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. We spent two days exploring Zion – walking in a river for 4 hours to see the Narrows and then climbed (almost) to the top of the highest point in the Park- Angel’s Landing. It was a little too much for the pansy (me) so I stopped at a high enough point and waited for my dad and Teri to be brave. Bryce Canyon was my favorite of the two parks. It has these insanely cool rock formations and is just incredibly beautiful. We did a loop hike that takes you through the entire park and took a million pictures. What a week!

 

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Bryce was so beautiful. The first day at Zion National Park we walked the Narrows. This was a hike almost entirely in the Virgin River. We rented special socks and boots and walking sticks. Some parts were a lot deeper than others so there was always that fear that you’d fall in completely…

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The second day at Zion we (my Dad and Teri) hiked Angel’s Landing. This monster hike is 5 miles long and the top is 5,785 feet in the air. Haha, nope. I did not get up to the top.

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I made it to this point ^ and got freaked out. I’m decently afraid of heights, so this was enough for me.

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_______________________________________

The hardest part for me to write about comes next. On the 16th of September, my brother passed away. It was a huge shock to me and my dad. There is a lot of pain and anger associated with this. I have never felt so broken. It was all I could do to not completely fall apart.

This was the second time we’d be back in Ohio. While this was the most difficult time of my life, it taught me so much. My brother’s life verse was Joshua 1:9. He lived courage out to a T. This motivated me to live my life differently. I felt pushed to step out of comfort and do something I’ve dreamed of doing in honor of my brother.

 

So, five days after this realization, about a month after I lost Quinn, I auditioned to sing on the Worship Team at the Well. I shook with nerves the entire time I was singing, but I knew I had to do it. My brother loved worship. He would have been proud, and I knew that with complete confidence. It’s what I needed to do what I knew I should have been doing for years.

On November 13, almost 2 months after losing Quinn, I sang at church. My grandmother was having a service in honor of my brother at her church that day too. It was so special.

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Sorry for the blurriness – Nick is learning (lol). I’m the one on the right.

I’ve sung at church twice since then – about once a month – and it has been everything I thought it would be. It is a feeling I cannot accurately articulate, but I know I am meant to be on that stage. I’m grateful my brother pushed me to do it.

Three days later, Nick turned 24 and I threw him a little surprise party. We must like surprises, huh?

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Ugh, love this girl.

Thanksgiving was a little weird because it was our first holiday away from family in Ohio. Nevertheless, it was refreshing and so much fun. We had two! The first one was with some of those amazing girls I met. We spent the actual day of Thanksgiving with 30 people from church and I took zero pictures because I had my phone in my purse the entire 5 hours. That’s how you know you have great company.

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December was like a complete blur. We went to Company Holiday Parties, ice skated, attended church gatherings and went back to Ohio a third time for Christmas. Being home with family was precious for us. It went by way too quickly and I already can’t wait to go back.

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Girls from the Well – they’re the best!

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Nick’s company’s holiday party was ridiculously lovely. We “gambled” and Nick was incredibly lucky which I don’t understand at all but it makes him want to go to Vegas which freaks me out a little.

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Ice skating was a blast. And this bar in Salt Lake called the Royal had AMAZING live music. Woo!

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Oh and then we went to Ohio and I got to see this gem. One of my favorite people on the planet, this one.

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Family – the greatest gift this year.

We ended the year at our friend’s house playing games and drinking, as you do on New Year’s Eve. It was a splendid end to a very difficult but rewarding year.

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Keep your eyes peeled for a little more activity on this piece of the web – I have a few goals for 2017!

 

 

grieving during the holidays

I have been trying to write this post for weeks. I have a few drafts saved but none of them felt quite right to me, so in the draft folder they’ll stay. I’ve promised myself this morning that this one will be the one I post, regardless of how good I feel about it. So here it goes.
It has been two months and some change since my brother, Quinn, passed away. This whole grief thing has taken me about that long to understand it for what it is – confusing, painful, and inexplicable, though I’m going to attempt that now.
Last weekend I said “Quinn died” out loud for the first time. Then I cried for an hour.
Most days, I felt like I was handling it okay. Then Nick and I had a conversation and he told me I seem like I don’t ever want to do anything when I’m home. Typically, I’m cleaning, doing dishes when they exist, doing laundry every weekend, sweeping, working out, baking. These past two months though – not happening at all. It took him saying something for me to even notice. I have been in a cloud since we got back from Ohio in September. I wake up, I go to work, I work, I leave, I pick up Nick, I come home and lay down, Nick makes dinner, I eat, I take Melatonin to sleep, I sleep – repeat. And I had no clue this is what I was doing. Sweet Nick, he was doing it all – making dinner, cleaning, reminding me to take a shower, picking up all the tissues I left everywhere, etc. Please don’t read this and think I am one of those women who puts pressure on herself to do everything around the house – I’m not, and Nick is very good at doing these things without complaint.
It’s not that I was just slacking at certain things, the fact is – I wasn’t doing anything and I didn’t even notice. I guess grief does that to you. It can take all the things you think are normal routine and make them seem impossible. No, I don’t have the energy to do the laundry in one day like I used to. I don’t want to go hang out with people and smile at them. I’d rather just yell at random people and cry or not go out at all. I stopped working out, which I loved doing. I stopped most of the things I liked doing because they all seemed like way too much effort. Effort I was putting into holding myself together. Also, please don’t read this and think I’m all better now that I’ve realized this – false. I am not “all better” I’m just starting to cope differently, because it’s unfair to my husband to be shut out of my emotions because I think he won’t understand what I’m going through.
This is the one experience in the year of us living in Utah that has made me the saddest about not having family around – understandably so. In the past two months I have seen grief take many forms – some days it is silent and sits on my brain without involving itself in anything. Other days, all I hear is “Why?” “Why?” “WHY?!?!” and it’s all I can do to not cry at work.
I’m the type to hold things in, to believe I have to process alone and not involve anyone else. Funny how I think that because Nick is always involved, regardless of if I know it or not.
Experiencing the grief of losing my big brother has been like nothing else I’ve ever been through. If you’ve lost someone – a grandparent, an aunt, a parent, a sibling like me, a child, or a friend – you know what I’m talking about here. It’s an inexplicable feeling that you don’t want to pressure others with because even though everyone means well – there’s not really anything they can say. Can you bring back my brother? No, so please just hug me. That’s what I need. I know you’re sorry, I’m sorry too because I’m literally a robot and you don’t deserve a robot friend.
If you have a friend who is grieving, just hug them and tell them they’re not alone. They know you’re there for them if they need anything, but they probably won’t ask you for anything because they don’t want to bug you. Stop by their house randomly with flowers or food (pizza is always a good choice) or wine (also always promising) and just be with them. Send them random texts – you aren’t bothering them. Just never leave them alone, ever. Being alone with grief is like being suffocated.
Grief is a thief. Yes I know that rhymes, I’m annoyed with myself but let’s move on. It feels private, like if you tell anyone that you feel like your heart has shriveled up and died like the plant you left without watering it then they’ll put you in a mental institution or never speak to you again.
It is uncomfortable because there’s no rulebook for how to grieve. Is it okay to watch Gilmore Girls and cry all day? I don’t know but that’s what I’m doing cause it feels right. Is it okay to grieve by blogging? Maybe. Is it acceptable to say “I’m doing fine” and not bring it up? Maybe not, but that’s what I do. Mostly because crying in public is #1 on the list of things I hate doing. Leave it to my brother to make me do something I hate even now – I type this with a smile, because he always pushed me out of what was comfortable and I hated it.
Grief makes you question everything. There is never enough warning for what is about to hit you like a truck. It really does feel like that. It’s like life hit you with a wrecking ball (thanks Miley for ruining that analogy) and you have to get up afterwards. Some people don’t get up. Other people get up and are completely different forever. I’m pretty sure that’ll be me. I’d like that to be the case. I want to be changed by who my brother was and what he lived his life for and how he did it. I think that would honor him. He was so brave. I want to be brave like him.
Grief can make you believe you are alone. It can make you think crying is stupid and that you look crazy. YOU DON’T. Crying is beautiful – I’m doing it right now.
Grief is suffocating and it can paralyze you. It can make you feel like the whole world is moving and you’re frozen in one spot forever, like in those movies where you only see the one person standing still while the world flies by. Grief can make you think staying in bed forever will fix everything – but it doesn’t.
Being 1,700 miles from the family I want to cling to has forced me to cling to the family I’ve developed here. It has been terrifying for me to do that. I barely talk about my brother because of how much pain I’m in about it. But these people have been healing for my wounds. God knew that when we moved out here. He knew I’d need these people more than I’ve ever needed anyone and how freaking scared that would make me.
He also knew that I would need the Holiday Season. It is not a coincidence that my brother died three months before Christmas. It really, really sucks that that’s the case, but it is not a coincidence. Jesus is so real to people during the holidays. Even if they don’t believe, there’s a different feeling in the air that cannot be ignored.
The holidays are a celebration, they are joy and peace, and they are filled with love. There is snow (in Utah) and garland, happy Christmas music and stockings. Presents come and people put up beautiful lights (some do it way too soon for my taste, but I digress) and Christmas trees that make everyone smile. The smells of Christmas are unmistakeable – we all have our own favorites. People love this time of the year so much it’s unbearable. But God knew I would need this. He knew I would need to be around 30 people from our church for Thanksgiving. He knew I’d want to talk to other women about their lives and hold a giant sleeping baby in my arms until my arms also fell asleep. He knew that and he gave it to me. He filled my heart when I thought I’d spend the whole day crying and feeling empty.
This is the first year I have ever been nervous for Christmas. I am scared everything will make me cry. It is hard for me to not be with my cousins in Chicago because of how connected I feel to them right now. Quinn loved them all so much. I hope they know that. We have all been through a lot – losing our amazing Grandfather in August, Quinn in September. What a painful and difficult couple of months it has been for the Considines. If any of you are reading this – I hope you know how much Quinn adored all of you. He did everything he could to be with you as often as possible and he never ever wanted to leave. This will be the first Christmas without Grandpa Frank and without Quinn, which is painful and so hard, but it refreshes my heart to know they are together all the time now.
God’s timing really is perfect. I do not like what has happened this year; my heart hurts and I am sad. This Christmas, hug your family – even that member of the family you’d rather not hug. I might sound cliché, but you really never know when you won’t be able to hug them anymore – or forgive them or tell them how much you love them and why.
If you’re still reading this, thank you. Thank you for letting me share my heart and for accepting me.
And if you know someone who is grieving right now – even if they hate hugs – hug them. A lot.

Quinn Considine Gharrity

Tiny baby with the cutest cheeks – always a goof (far right)
Front left with so many cousins – look at that face!
His favorite outfit since age 2 – always smushed by cousins

 

My high school graduation – Macbook pictures while visiting him in college – accidental matching at Thanksgiving – after watching me play in a field hockey tournament
Last Christmas before moving to SLC, he had perfected the soft smile – my wedding in May 2014

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On September 16, 2016, my sweet, goofy, Jesus-loving brother breathed his final breath on Earth at just 25 years old.

It has now been 11 days since then, and it has taken me that long to put my feelings into words.

Having studied psychology in college, I know the stages of grief by name: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It isn’t until something like this happens that a person really understands these stages & they don’t come in stages. It’s not as though you spend five days in denial and then switch to being angry for a month and then bargain for a week, etc. Sometimes you can feel all of these things in one day. It’s incredibly overwhelming and then someone asks, “How’re you doing?” and you want to say “When? Right now, or in 30 minutes? Because it will probably change.” Grief is an umbrella term for unstable, emotionally wrecked confusion and devastation.

I am grateful to have seen my brother after he passed so denial was not a factor for me. While incredibly difficult, this made it real and solidified in my mind. The first stage I experienced was more like shock.

From finding out he was in the hospital to him passing was about 24 hours. We were in the car driving to the hospital in Cleveland from Columbus when it happened. This was terrible at the time, not being there. Guilt was the most powerful emotion I felt at this moment and sometimes it still hits me – living in Salt Lake, we hadn’t made it in time and I was devastated. 11 days later, I am developing a different perspective.

I know from Scripture that God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28) and this has been applied to my life to handle many difficult circumstances. It is incredibly important for me to know in this present one. I’m not entirely sure why it would be good for me to not be there, but I can speculate. It may have been too much for me to handle, being in the room. Maybe Quinn would have felt pressure to not be at peace, for me, if I was there. I wouldn’t want that for him. Maybe there is no explicit reason, it just happened that way and I have to move past it.

When you’re grieving, it’s a battle to not think of what could have been. I have to fight this daily. I don’t give in to thinking what if I had been there. I am very grateful that I was put on speakerphone when he was breathing on his own after the ventilator had been removed, and I prayed my big brother’s “last rites” prayer. I will hold that memory dear forever. I ushered my brother into Jesus’ arms. That is special. Instead of entertaining thoughts of frustration, I instead combat with ways this moment was made special for my brother and me. I knew he could hear me, and he knew I was there.

Today, I am back in Salt Lake City after more than a week in Ohio and I find peace in reflecting on my favorite memories with my older by two years brother. All of the Christmases, birthdays, Easters, childhood family vacations, and little memories I have with him are so precious.

We were always very different – I was strong and stubborn, he was more gentle and kind. He was always confident in who he was, completely unconcerned with what people thought of him – wearing gym shorts under his jeans because that was most comfortable, and dressing up was his least favorite thing. I, on the other hand, struggled with what people thought of me, and still do. Appearances mean more to me than they should. I always envied that freedom in him. He wore flat bills with his messy hair and these huge red Nike shoes with the reference to his favorite verse written on the backs – Joshua 1:9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” He was bold and brave even if he didn’t know it. If you spoke to him, he made you feel like you were the only one in the world that mattered. He just wanted to know people and let them know they were loved. As little sisters do, I thought certain things (like his clothing choices and how he’d push my buttons all the time) were annoying, but secretly, I learned a lot from him.

Quinn went through a lot in his life with an amazing amount of courage. He had two liver transplants, needed constant hospital visits to draw blood, and was required to take anti-rejection meds his entire life. He was allergic to milk (not just lactose-intolerant but seriously allergic- can you imagine?!) but he never complained. He lived his life loving people completely and unconditionally. I feel truly blessed to be his sister.

My favorite thing to think about now is my goofy brother in Heaven with Jesus and my Grandpa Frank who died on August 2nd at 94 years old. I imagine them playing golf (my grandpa’s favorite activity) and Quinn learning to golf in his gym shorts and cut off t-shirt with a flat bill hat sitting on his ruffled hair. This image makes me giggle because of how different they were on the outside, but how endearing their relationship was and how similar they were at the heart level. They both loved so genuinely.

I know the next year will be a process, as will every day after. I have always found it helpful to work through things by writing, whether it’s on a laptop or a journal. Having a blog has been massively helpful for my emotional health. My desire is for people to read these things and know about my brother, but also so they can know if they are dealing with grief, they are not alone.

When you lose a close family member, you realize how important community is. The community we have in Ohio among family & close friends and the amazing people we have grown close to in Utah have been the most amazing blessing during this difficult time. The group of girls I have in SLC sent flowers to Ohio for me. The number of people that showed up to the memorial was overwhelming. The company I work for has allowed me to take as much time off as I need and sent flowers to my home. My husband, he has been my rock. I cannot imagine having to go through something like this without him. God has blessed me abundantly and continually reminds me that it is okay to not be okay. Especially right now. But even when people have moved back to normal life and I spend a whole day crying – I am sure this will happen – it’s still okay.

This scripture has been on my mind and has helped me process the past two weeks – there is a time for everything.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.” 

summer 2016 recap

What an insane couple of months it’s been in Utah. Summer is SO different here than in Ohio.

I’m not used to the desert by any means. I’d never been in the desert for longer than a few days before we moved here, and by desert I mean “California desert”, so I really didn’t know what I was in for.

Don’t get me wrong, I loooove the heat! I’d definitely choose it over the snow any day. Let me tell you though, 105° kicks. my. butt. Every time I walk outside, I start sweating.

The only relief is shade – it’s about 10° cooler out of the sun and feels amazing.

 

While it has been roasting here, we’ve had quite an active couple of months.

June

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So much hiking this summer – fitting I guess. This is from our Bonneville Shoreline hike. Look at the city back there!

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I splurged and got my hair dyed UBER blonde in June. It was such a drastic change for me! I’ve never changed my hair that much, but I’m pretty obsessed with it.

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Bells Canyon. Hike #2 of the summer. Now this was by far the toughest hike I’ve ever done. The trail was full of large rocks, it was a pretty steep incline too. It truly felt like hiking up a mountain. But the end made it so worth the struggle! Such a beautiful waterfall.

Nick also started a new job in June!! It has been the biggest blessing and an answer to many prayers. He works with so many great people that have become friends in only a few months.

July 

Oh dear, this was the month of short trips with a lot of travel time and not a lot of rest. The first weekend we went to Chicago for less than 24 hours (ah!) Nick was not a fan, to say the least.

Side note: If you’ve never flown Frontier, just know, you get what you pay for. You basically sit in a turtle shell and you have a tiny little tray table that is practically just a metal plate. According to Nick, we will be paying more to be comfortable from now on. No arguments from me!

The Chicago River view from our teeny hotel room. Next to Columbus, Chicago is hands down my favorite city.

Our hotel was beautiful, but only one of the elevators was working, so we were a bit antsy by the time it came. Hehe.

Flying for 6 hours to be at your destination for less than a day  doesn’t really seem worth it, unless you get to see family you haven’t seen in 2 years. That made this tiny trip more than worth it.

Needless to say I was very excited and this night did not disappoint.My cousin Andrew married the most beautiful bride, Brooke. It was stunning. First of all, look at the table we sat at…

It was so so beautiful!! We sat at a table with all the cousins on my family’s side, and then the bride’s cousins were at the other end of the table (to the left of Nick in the photo above). I was blown away, I could barely soak it all in. Thank goodness for iPhone pictures. They do NOT do it justice though…

This picture sucks, but you can catch a glimpse here of just how immaculately this was designed and decorated. Earlier on in the evening, they got married under those circles of flowers. Yes, I definitely cried. Fun fact: Olivia Munn was a bridesmaid and she sat two feet in front of me during the ceremony. If you know me, you know I freak out about famous people. I sat on my hands to keep myself from taking creepy pics or asking her for a selfie. Apparently that’s not good etiquette at a wedding – good to know. Aaron Rodgers was there too, but eh. (sorry, Nick).

Eeeek! I love weddings with my forever wedding date. He looks so cute in his suit.

This picture I will treasure forever. This is my cousin, Scott. People like him are the reason why I feel so blessed to be a piece of this huge family. He stood and talked to me after this for at least an hour, about my job, his job (he answered all my dumb questions) and never made me feel like he had anywhere else to be. He was holding this white wine for his sister (I think he’d want me to make that clear). Bless his heart.

I can’t wait to get a better phone so I can take better pictures! The one above is my cousin (one of 16) and his bride. This picture doesn’t show you how beautiful they looked, but goodness, look at her dress!! She fine. And they will make the cutest babies ever.

This wedding was incredible. They had a live band that played covers of popular songs and I danced with my cousins and myriad of aunts of uncles all night. Seriously, we left at 1:30 in the morning. I did not want to leave.

Look at this photo booth!! Amazing.

(lol)

This is framed on our wall right now. ^ #fierce

Hahahaha. The opposite of our feelings about this wedding. Now get ready for my beautifully massive family:

(stupid fingerprint on the screen, sorry Margaret)

I will remember this night forever. My heart was bursting and looking at these pictures makes me all weepy.

Aaaaaand the morning after. I’m not sure where I got that coffee, but it was awful.

Oh Chicago, you have a piece of my heart. Especially after that trip.

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I need one of those fancy cameras so more of my pictures can look like that ^. We got home from the city and needed some wilderness. American Fork Canyon provided.

The next weekend we took off from SLC on Thursday and left for San Diego. My cousin (on my dad’s side now) had gotten married a few weeks before and this weekend was their reception. On the way to SD, we stopped in Vegas. Haha, ugh.

Since that weekend, I have told a few friends about it and I have heard from most of them that I just didn’t have fun because “you don’t know how to do Vegas, Erinn”. That may be true, but I don’t know if I want to know how to “do Vegas” anymore. I hated it.

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Me: “oh look how cheap! That’ll be fine.” HAHA NO.

This castle smelled like smoke and sweat. Bad start.IMG_1854We were in Vegas for one night. This restaurant was definitely the best part. It’s called Battista’s – my dad suggested it and (as always) he was right on the money. The wine came with the meal (mhm) and it was bottomless. There were buckets hanging from the ceiling and pictures covering every inch of the wall. So much character in one room! We loved it.

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Here’s a picture of me pretending to be happy that we’re in Vegas. Proof that we went and got blisters on our feet and left with less money.

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The next day was the reception. I only have this picture because sometimes, I love leaving my phone behind. One of the best things about living in Utah is being closer to family that has always lived out west, so I haven’t seem them often. What a blessing family is.

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We love photo booths in my family. Blurry, but my favorite.

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Ah, Coronado. I could have spent my whole day on this beach! That’s my dad and my step-mom, by the way. Seeing them less is a negative of leaving Ohio – but they’re visiting so soon!

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The next day was the beach in Del Mar – this is about 20 minutes before the tide rose and soaked me. Thanks to Nick’s catlike reflexes it didn’t soak my phone…oops.

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The tide attacked me twice so I was over it quickly, but such a beautiful beach! Del Mar was a really cute town. We love living so close to California/the ocean. Definitely making more trips there.

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Sunday we celebrated my grandparents’ 80th birthdays. Don’t worry, they both got cakes. I come from a family of “bad sharers”, haha. JOEY DOESNT SHARE FOOD – basically all of us. My uncle is a fabulous chef, so obviously he made dinner for us that night – scallops and steak. Unreal. Hehe, I know my grandma reads these so I don’t know how she’ll feel about making a cameo – hi grandma! (:

Also – my new cousin is hilarious and we did FaceSwap for a while and basically forced everyone to participate.

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Me & Caitlyn – can you even tell we swapped?!

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Ew.

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AHHHHH! Haha, my uncle Joe and his wife Denise – this made us all cry laughing. Unbelievable. I’m so glad I have this picture for future embarrassment opportunities.

 

The rest of July was a whirlwind, as the entire summer has been. We had Sunday brunch with friends, went on spontaneous dates, had our friend Matt visit from Ohio for a weekend and hiked up Brighton!

IMG_1946IMG_1996Matt! We want him to move here. If you know Matt, tell him to move here. k thxx. IMG_2003IMG_2026IMG_2018IMG_2023IMG_2012IMG_2022IMG_2037IMG_2038

Silver Lake I think? There’s so many in that area, we thought we were at a certain one and we definitely weren’t. Either way, so beautiful.

August

This month was the biggest whirlwind of them all. A few weeks into July, I got an unexpected call from my cousin to tell me that my 94 year-old grandfather had a stroke and may not have long. It was jolting. I cried a lot. But I also got to talk to him on the phone, which was a miracle. He could talk, listen, and remember just about everything he could before the stroke. I felt so lucky to get to do that. It was only two minutes, but I will be forever grateful to hear him say “I love you too, honey” in his deep, calming voice one last time. On August 2nd, he passed away peacefully just two weeks shy of 95. Being in Utah, this was so difficult. We couldn’t make it to the visitation or the funeral, and that broke my heart. I will see him again, though. And I can’t wait to hug him when I do.

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The weekend of my grandpa’s funeral, my best friend visited from home!

IMG_2056Ain’t she the cutest?

I showed her around downtown SLC and we hiked up Donut Falls. IMG_0994IMG_1009IMG_1019IMG_2365IMG_2372IMG_2379IMG_2382

That same day we also climbed the Living Room hike in 90° weather. We didn’t make it all the way to the couches made of rocks, but this view was amazing just the same. IMG_2396IMG_2399IMG_2400IMG_2408IMG_2415IMG_2448

Can’t forget about the driveway photo shoot – thanks for visiting and making me giggle the whole time, Dre. Come back soon.

The Tuesday after Dre left, it was my birthday. Nick threw me a surprise party and I was oblivious – you can see I’m definitely not dressed for a backyard party! He did a great job. I felt so loved!

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These girls, though. Utah has given me amazing friends. The following weekend I spent with the girls in the pic above (plus a few more) in the cabin below.

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I wanna go back!! Look how beautiful..IMG_2125IMG_2141

Tucked away in the mountains for a weekend with my favorite girls – it was exactly what I needed.

We have been trying to hike more since we have been forgetting how close we live to this beauty.

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This is the top of the living room hike I mentioned earlier. The sunset up there was unbelievable.

For my birthday, Nick bought me tickets to the musical Newsies. It was the most incredible musical I’ve ever seen. Everyone is so talented and AMAZING dancers. This is a MUST SEE!!

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This guy knows me so well. My heart was so full!! I love musicals and anything in theatre. Ah! It was a dream.

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This first summer in Utah was packed full. Props to you for getting to the end of this!! It has been so fun to reflect and go back through what God has done in the past three months. What a joy it is to live in a place like Utah where there is so much adventure. Since September 1st, Nick has not stopped talking about snow and the winter coming soon. While I am not a fan of that season, I must say I’m ready for the heat to pass. I actually can’t wait for fall weather!! I promise I’m going to post more so these aren’t all this long. I love you for reading this! What are your favorite parts of fall?! I’m definitely excited for sweaters and cuddling under blankets on the weekends!

With love, 

EV.