Raised in Love

I have a very close family and have always had special bonds with my aunts and uncles. I was always told as a kid that I had an old soul, and while I had no idea what that meant, I knew that I loved talking about the world with the people who knew what was going on it. I could see the darkness in other people- I could tell when they were sad and always got a laugh out of them with my goofball ways. I was Christ-filled and hopeful, but still watched the news with my Great Aunt Barbara and knew the worries of the world. 

When I was 12 years old my Uncle James passed away. I will never forget that day. I will never forget the flood of anxiety, sadness, and even anger. His death came a few short months after my 12th birthday. Every year for my birthday he bought me some sort of Barbie toy and this was the year he realized I wasn't playing with dolls anymore. He decided to take me shopping for my own present. I was so excited! He came and picked me up and we had the best day together. He bought me a Dixie Chicks CD that I still own and will cry through anytime it plays. That day meant so much to me then, before I even knew he'd be gone just two months later. 

In May 2011, I was taking Maymester courses at Georgia State. It was my junior year and I was playing catch-up since I had changed my major the prior year. I was so busy and so stressed out. I called my mom on my way home from school one day, just like every other day. She answered and was trying to stay calm, but I could sense her stirring. She told me that my Uncle Jimmy was on the way to the hospital. I asked which hospital and said that I would meet everyone there. She was informing other family members, so I let her go and told her to give me a call back. When she called back, she gave me news that I wasn't expecting. It hit me like a ton of bricks: Jimmy passed away in the ambulance. 'Did they even try to revive him?! What happened?! What?! Are you sure?!' I was floored. My Uncle Jimmy wasn't the happiest person in the world, but he could put a smile on anyone's face. Guaranteed. He dressed as Santa for our family reunions at Christmastime and we had been talking about him being Santa for my Christmas sessions that year. It is so impossibly hard for me to imagine hosting Santa photos with another Santa. He was and will always be Santa Claus to me. 

My Uncle Chuck was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer less than a year ago. He has been through the hell that is chemo and radiation. And now he has been told that nothing is working. That nothing *will* work. There is literally nothing we can do but try to make his last days, weeks, months, whatever he has left, comfortable and happy. All that's left is love, hugs, and hopefully some semblance of peace. It's hard to cope with someone's death before they even die. I am trying not to grieve for him while he is still here, but that is tough! I cannot imagine how he really feels, deep down. His birthday is April 1 and mine is April 3. We have had birthday parties together for as long as I can remember. If you want to talk about literally anything, Chuck will talk with you forever if you want him to. He is a sweetheart and doesn't deserve this pain. 

I guess my point in posting this essay is that I want everyone to realize how marvelous it is to be human, to be really connected to other people. Yes, times like these hurt. But I wouldn't be the same person at all if I never would've bonded with the people I have. My heart hurts, but I was raised in love. I grew up around people who had my best interest in mind and made me feel valuable- talented, smart, and unique. You can't lose when you open up your heart to people who love. 

left- Uncle James and me on his wedding day in 1995.  right- Uncle Jimmy, me, Taylor & Hunter on a day circa 2000 when Uncle Jimmy came over to see us and use the last few shots on his roll of film on us.   

left- Uncle James and me on his wedding day in 1995. 

right- Uncle Jimmy, me, Taylor & Hunter on a day circa 2000 when Uncle Jimmy came over to see us and use the last few shots on his roll of film on us. 

 

clear eyes (ish), full hearts, can't lose. 

xo

Ashley

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