Today’s blog is all about my daughter; if you don’t know, her name is Graci. Today I’m writing about her because A) she told me to after I asked what my blog should be about and B) because I just left her once again as she starts her Senior year of college. Many of you know she has traveled a long way to go to college, actually 14 hours away from me and her family. I’m so beyond proud of her and her desire to live life to it’s fullest and all that it brings her. I know in life we raise our children to grow, to be safely successful in life, to become adults and then learn to grow and be an adult. Praying fully that they will marry and become a parent of their own. While we do this, we fight our feelings of letting go and allowing this transition in life. We want them to stay young and savor the moments, but we also love the young adults they become and experiencing life with them as actually smart humans (lol…I know some of us wonder about our children and their decisions, this is meant to be funny). My feelings of having Graci grow has been hard because she’s my one and only and this is my one chance to see if I actually did an okay job and if she will succeed in life and not end up a dumpster fire <insert laugh - sarcasm>, but also because I was robbed of experiencing it twice when my son died.
Graci is amazing. I can sum Graci up pretty easily. She is headstrong, but gentle with it; she is a beautiful spirit that loves life and all humans she meets; she’s smart and an extremely hard worker; she never wants to let people down and she’s not a fighter; Graci and I can butt heads very easily, because whether she loves it or not we are very similar in personalities. Growing up Graci played club volleyball & HS volleyball and found so much joy in that. I fondly remember meeting other parents on our team that we didn't know and they would always tell me that they were so glad Graci was on the team because she always had a smile on her face and she always lifted the players up. I never thought Graci would be ready to spread her wings and leave the nest so far away, but she did. Graci has some normal anxiety as a young lady who has had a lot of traumatic life experiences hit her when she was so young. I truly believe that she has done a great job of moving through her journey of loss with a hopeful heart always and she is our YOLO girl (you only live once). She has taught me so much about grace and how to give that to peope and how to brush stuff off your shoulders. Now don’t get me wrong, Graci is not perfect. I’m not naive to think that; she was a little shit growing up sometimes, making some wrong decisions- learning from those decisions, learning how to become a friend and what friendships really entail. She learned that studying was and IS important and she knows the importance of communication. We’ve chatted about giving people grace a lot because Graci is a hard ass, she truly is. I believe that she has become this way because life is what it is and we cannot change or be all to all people, so in her mind you be who you are and don’t be who your not.
Imagine in life you learn at 4 years old that your baby brother has died and not even knowing really what that means and how it will look. Then imagine in life that your daddy is diagnosed with cancer when you are 5 years old and you have no idea what that big “C” word even means, but you know it’s something sad because everyone is sad and whispering and dad just isn’t the same daddy anymore. Then imagine that your daddy dies when you are 6 years old and you understand what “died” means and what death means. You know that the person never ever ever comes back again and you know that it’s sad because you saw mommy & daddy so sad when your brother died. Then you have to imagine being 6 and being so lonely because it’s just you and your mommy and she’s acting like a crazy lady because she’s so sad and doesn’t know what to do either. Then your favorite Uncle Seth dies right after your 7th birthday. Then your Aunt Joey never moves back to the house on the farm and mommy and you are really really alone now. Imagine how that feels at so young, but then in a kids heart, you know that it will be okay and you want to be happy and you want all people to be happy. For me even writing this, it is absolutely heartbreaking for me to read and even think about. UGH…how awfully painfully sad for kids! As adults we know the sadness, the loneliness, the depth of grief; but as kids they can't fully understand it, but yet they are the most resilient out of us all.
Fast forward to the time Graci’s mommy (me), started dating another guy named Chantz. Mommy was happy and she liked that, but then mommy was paying attention to someone else. Graci might have felt lonely again, but then Chantz telling her that he knows it’s scary and sad, but he will never ever be her daddy because she has a daddy in Heaven, but he will be the daddy figure for her here on Earth however she needs him. That is comforting and it all sounds fun and good. Life becomes “normal” again and we always talk about baby brother Garret, daddy, and Uncle Seth. But, sometimes you still feel lost and that is okay. These are all real feelings and things that kids/young adults feel and go through. You can read this and be like wow, life was tough for Graci. How so very sad she had to go through all that at such a young age. But please, do notvfeel "sad" for Graci, feel love, feel the power of her growth & grace, but mostly feel so damn proud of Graci for moving forward in this broken world & life. Graci has had a lot of loss at a young age, she has endured more as she has grown as she watched her Aunt Brooke die from alcoholism and then her Grandpa dying after a lengthy illness that stole him away from her teen years. Pa was Graci's biggest fan in life and wanted nothing more than her to succeed, smile, and love without condition. I feel like she has lived up to her Pa's hope and I know without a doubt he is proud of her and all she is accomplishing.
Graci is on a mission; she is finishing her Senior year of college and she is getting her degree with a Bachelor of Kinesiology. I'm SO proud of her, because for me, I didn't go to college and I know that college is not the be all end all for everyone, but it's a disappointment in my life that I wish I would have finished through. So for me to see Graci getting so close to finishing and establishing a career, I'm so proud. I'm not sure where her career will take her, I'm not 100% sure she will head back to the Midwest. As of right now, she's loving the South, but won't stay where she is at now. I'm hoping for a closer job position, but wherever she lands, I will lift her up and support her with everything. (and probably find somewhere to live to be close to her).
It stinks being an empty nester...at first...because boy when she comes home, it's like a tornado came through the house. LOL! But, I feel like we are in a good place in our life as empty nesters and we acknowledge the gift we have when she calls us, FaceTimes us, or texts us daily. I hope that you all can move forward when and if your time has come to be empty nesters and enjoy the peace and growth that is surrounding you. If you have a child that has loss at such a young age and hasn't grown in a healthy manner, please seek out any and all therapy or tools to guide them through the journey of life. We all know that life in itself is so hard and we live in a broken world. Tools you can utilize would be find a church and lean in to the word, find a therapist that deals with young adults, talk about medication if it's needed for anxiety issues in young adults, but mostly be present and ask questions. Don't not talk about "their" person who has died, let them grieve by talking and you just listen. What do you want and need as you go through grief? Kids need the same, but with a little more sugar. Death is inevitable for us all and it's happening more & more and kids/young adults are getting exposed to more & more; so be present, be aware, be loving, and listen to all the jib jab they give us.
So...today lean in to your children, love them unconditionally for what & who they are. We can all be better together if we all work together to guide and help the youth of our times.
Love you SO much Graci (bugaboo). Go chase dreams and be who you are and never let anyone tear you down.