May 15, 2012

A last photo and a last word

The other day I was looking through folders of old photos on my computer, and I found an especially meaningful one that brought back a flood of tears and memories.  The lighting is terrible and it was never meant to be a good picture, per se, but I had stopped by my mom’s house shortly after purchasing my new 5D, and I was just sort of snapping away. This was the very last photo I ever took of Edd.
Feb 21 058-2-2
I remember him well in that spot. He was often sitting there when I’d come over to visit… reading the paper or a magazine or watching a show on TV. He’d say “hiiii Jenni,” or get up and come sit at the bar to talk to me. Whenever I go over to my mom’s now, I like to sit there in Edd’s spot, where he was in this picture.
It’s funny, the memories in a place. How a particular piece of space can hold such strong memories of a person that was there at one point in time. Like that old saying goes… “if only walls could talk.” If walls could talk over at my mom’s place, they would speak of so much love, you can’t even wrap you head around it.
One memory both Matthew and I have of Edd made a deep impact on both of us. We were over for dinner one night, and Edd was sitting in the kitchen at a bar stool and we were all chatting as my mom cooked dinner. I don’t remember how the conversation reached this point, but I remember this so vividly. Edd’s face was red and broken out a bit from chemo.  His body had really been ravaged, but there he was, with tears welling up in his eyes as he said, “yeah, I have cancer, but I’m really happy.”
I attribute much of that happiness to the fierce love between him and my mom—the way they gave each other strength when one thing after another was taken away from them. Sometimes maybe it’s a blessing when all you have left is the love.
And it really makes you think, you know? If everything was taken away from you, all the things you have no real control over, what would be left? I think I’ve found that the answer to this question is 1. your spirit (the part of you that doesn’t die), and 2. your relationships. And it makes me think about what I’m really “nurturing” in my life.  Really makes me think.
I tend to boil everything down to lessons learned in Harry Potter (ha ha), and one quote by Dumbledore always stood out to me. He said, “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.” And that’s so true, don’t you think? Edd’s life and death was proof to me that cancer and dying isn’t the worst thing that could happen to a person. But a life without love and friendships and close, healthy, meaningful relationships that transcend time and space and pain and, yes, even death? That would be the worst of all.
“Yeah, I have cancer, but I’m really happy.” What is in your life that brings you joy, even when life isn’t perfect? How can you build on those things, those relationships?
Just things I’m thinking today. Happy Tuesday. :)

60 comments:

  1. This was such a touching post, thank you for sharing Jenni!

    I completely agree I think that oftentimes we get too wrapped up in our jobs, bank accounts, vacations, big weddings, presents, etc. that we fail to see the TRUE blessings that are right in front of us. The people who love us abundantly, wholly, deeply. This is what life is all about...

    Thanks again for such fresh perspective and praying for you and your family as you continue to heal.

    xx

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  2. Wow...I can relate to this a good bit. My mom's sister, my favorite aunt, died from breast cancer a little less than three years ago. She was living with my grandparents when she died and it's still hard to go there sometimes. This post is so heartfelt. Beautiful.

    You have me thinking, too, about what I'm nurturing. Am I spending more time cleaning my house than filling it with people I love? Excellent post..

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  3. What a beautiful post. I fell ill a few years ago and it has been an uphill battle but that absolultely does not take away from the beauty I have been blessed with in this life. My daughter used to say, "I'm SO happy!" and it just made my heart want to burst. I use that often when talking to people now and when they laugh I explain, where it came from and why now, more than ever, it is important to embrace life with childlike enthusiam. Why shouldn't getting ice cream make us ridiculously happy? Or a new pair of shoes? Or a blue sky with nothing but the sun shining in it and the birds singing? When did we as adults lose the ability to be SO happy about the simple things and instead tie our happiness up in things we could not control? Nurturing those relationships and your shine (aka spirit) really are the only things we can control. Do what makes you SO happy. The rest will follow!

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  4. oh goodness, tears in my coffee!!! Such a beautiful post and what a wonderful treasure of a photo you found of Edd. I think the lighting is great, it's soft, real and intimate. Thanks for sharing!!

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  5. Such a lovely post. It's really special to carry those memories with you...and I agree Dumbledore is so full of wisdom. :)
    I hope you are finding comfort knowing Edd's love is being carried within you and other people he touched!

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  6. Oh Jenni.... brought such tears to me... ones coming from my unending supply. Thank you for validating something that is so real to me. More real than anything right now. To somehow forget all this is to forget me and get lost in life today. The more time that goes by and the more I think and reflect, I believe that Edd was happy because he focused on what he HAD. And he always commented on how he felt loved. And joy and somehow filled up inside... but I think he also CHOSE to see the good. It was all he had left in his life to control. He could only control his attitude. He couldn't control his illness at all. So much of his life was out of his hands, out of his control. He tried to do everything but in the end couldn't stop the progression of the disease. But he could control his inner life and his need to see the beauty and love in his life. And he found a lot of that. I think he made some kind of decision NOT to let cancer rob him of appreciating the best things in life. For me, I want to try... try.... to think on the things that CAN'T be taken away from me.... just try... and center my life around that. I have a long way to go....

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  7. Time is a strange think... My great-grandmother died in Autumn last year and still every time I visit my grandmother's house I go upstairs where she lived and stand in the middle of her room and cry, because I see her everywhere... I see, where she used to sit and read, where she watched TV and I still feel the touch of her wrinkled hands... I have cried for her for so long, I cry also right now... and I WILL cry many times, but what I saved are the best, sweetest memories and no-one can ever take them away...
    We sometimes loose the people we love, but if we know we gave them everything we could, we can let them go, set them free and be happy for the chance to spend some time with them...though it's hard, so hard...

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  8. Such a beautiful post! Tears were brought to my eyes just reading it. And I think the photo is lovely, especially if it captures something that he so naturally used to do. Your posts are always so inspiring to read!

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

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  9. I think Edd not only touched the lives of those who knew him in person but also the lives of many of your readers Jenni.

    Every time I read one of your posts about him I learn some kind of a lesson. I need to spend more time with those I love and doing things that make me happy rather then thinking of all the negatives all the time.

    Thank you for sharing this.

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  10. such powerful thoughts. i think that's always been the most important for me too- living with all the love i can get. we can survive without material things, or even with a weak and dying body, but without those powerful, loving relationships, we have nothing. including our relationship with God (in my opinion).

    i'm glad you have such sweet memories of Edd, and i hope that someday the walls in my house will speak of the same incredible love that theirs do.

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  11. This post brought tears to my eyes. Edd sounds like he was such a joyous man! Thank you for sharing, I know it must be difficult!

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  12. Such a beautiful post and what a wonderful legacy Edd has left behind not only for you but for those you share it with!! Thank you!

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  13. wow, seriously. i am tearing up right now. you just have this way of writing that brings out these emotions. it is such a gift, Jenni.

    Edd had it all and he knew it .. even when he learned he had cancer. I hope that we all can live like he did.

    You wrote, "It wasn't meant to be a good picture" but it is. It really is.

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  14. Have you ever read Tuesdays with Morrie?? I love this post and it reminds me of that book SO much.

    Makes me cry just thinking about it.

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  15. Your wisdom is precious, Jenni. And Edd is a wonderful source of inspiration. This post nudges me to take a look at my life and see if I am grateful enough for what it is that I have.

    Thank you for sharing what it is in your heart as openly as you could, Jenni. God bless <3 :-)

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  16. My husband and I were talking about happiness this weekend and how easy it is to overlook the simple things - the things that bring true happiness. I love the quote you chose for this post. It really does make one stop and consider the important things/people in life.

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  17. what a beautiful picture..sometimes photos can evoke memories, even if it's not the best lighting, or the perfect angle. what matters is that you have this and you can always think of Edd. He sounds like a beautiful person and I'm sure he has impacted your life in ways that are unable to be described.

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  18. woman, your words. it's amazing how you can touch readers in such a meaningful way. really makes me question some things about my life...
    thanks, lady. :)
    roxy

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  19. Beautiful, Jenni. Absolutely beautiful. I am so glad that you have these memories. And I think the quote about not pitying the dead, but pitying those who live without love is spot-on. After hearing a homily on this, I frequently pray for "those for whom no one prays." Same idea--those with no love in their lives breaks my heart.

    ~Tiffany
    http://tiffanyd22.blogspot.com

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  20. Absolutely beautifully written and so true about life. I always come back to Harry Potter with life quotes too. They are quite relevant though. I'm glad you crossed paths and found this photo because your post just made my day.

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  21. Thanks for sharing. What a beautiful life lesson we could all be reminded of. Every time I come here I am reminded of what a gifted writer you are. Please never stop posting.

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  22. A quote that I pinned a while back came to me while I was reading this... so now I'm off to write about it myself! You nailed it on the head, Jenni. Relationships are a big part of why we are here. And sometimes they're hard work. And sometimes they plain suck. But, our hearts NEED them. So thankful for YOU.

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  23. Very touching and meaningful post, thanks for sharing =)

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  24. Wow Jenni, I was crying the whole way through. You are really on to something large there...

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  25. What a beautiful and eye-opening post Jenni. Though I never knew Edd, his words will be replaying through my head as well.

    "yeah I have cancer, but I'm happy."

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  26. This post brought tears to my eyes, so meaningful. You have a beautiful way of writting and of looking at life. You are so right that relationships are most important and real love. Thank you so much for sharing these personal thoughts.

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  27. Jenni, what a perfect post for this time in my life. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing your sentiments. And dear old Dumbeldore, I miss him sorely.....

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  28. In the end love is the most important thing, who you loved and who loved you.

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  29. Wow, this was such a great post Jenni.

    About a year and a half ago I lost a very amazing woman to CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia). She was basically a second mom to me. My mom was her best friend since before I was born. And her daughter and I were also best friends. I couldn't understand why she was taken away. She was the epitome of a good person. She loved with everything she had. She treated everyone as family. This post really made me realize that she wouldn't want us to be sad that she's gone. We should just be happy that we got to be apart of her short life. Love really is the most important thing. Without it, I think we're all a little dead anyways.

    Thanks for this post, Jenni. I didn't know Edd, but I think he would really appreciate your frame of mind :)

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  30. Brought tears to my eyes. Beautifully written.

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  31. This is one of my favorite posts of yours! What a beautiful last photo to have of him in his special spot and what powerful words he left behind. That's what life's all about if you ask me, finding the beauty in the madness. You're so right, those relationships we build are the most important, because when everything else in our life spins out of control...we can still control what kind of friend, daughter, and wife we are. Sometimes Dave and I just look at each other and say that despite all of the craziness right now, we still feel so blessed because we have one another!

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  32. This is such a sweet post. Isn't it amazing how much power can be packed into one photograph?

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  33. The way you broach a subject is just awesome. I mean something like cancer is such a life changing thing and usually for the worse. But the way you write with such a positive attitude really pings in my brain. I mean, you take an awful situation and locate that one redeeming essence of positivity. I attended a funeral this weekend for a wonderful lady who reached the ripe old age of 93, who was an amazingly positive person and her family translated this to her funeral - celebrating the wonderful person she was and the amazing way she touched so many peoples lives. This post and that weekend have really touched me. Maybe in my pursuit of closure from grief this is an attitude I should adopt.

    http://mimifinerty.blogspot.com/

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  34. That was very touching, and I love that you used a Harry Potter quote. I feel like those books have a lot of things in them that you can learn from and in this instance that quote is very true. Great post!

    My favorite quote from the books is, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."

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  35. Oh Jenni -
    You had my eyes misting when you said that you like to go over to your mom's place now and sit in Edd's spot. That resonated with me in such a personal way.

    When my grandfather died - I was young, around 9, and his loss was so hard for me to bear. He was everything. He was the smartest man I'd ever known and the most generous human alive. He was everything. And then he was gone - just like that.

    He had a special spot on the couch, much like Edd's, and I settled into that spot, curled my legs under myself and cried missing him. The rest of the couch was springy, but his spot, worn by years of him there, just sank down and held me. I had never sat there before, and from then until my grandmother died, it was the only place I could stand to sit in that house.

    Thank you for sharing yourself Jenni. Thank you for helping me remember.

    xoxo
    jackie
    perchedup.blogspot.com

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  36. Wow, what an awesome statement. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  37. Aaaaand...I'm crying.

    Beautiful post and the best reminder I've read in a long time.

    Thank you.

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  38. What a really awesome post! I think it's on of my favorite by far.

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  39. Wow. What a sweet post. You have me teary over here for sure. But you are so right. This is something we all must remember every time we are worried about something tiny or wasting our time with something that really doesn't matter. We need to remember that love is the most important thing and what we should work for in life. Thank you for sharing this story. You are lucky to have known someone who could go through such a horrific experience yet be able to identify even one thing that made him happy.

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  40. Those are pretty powerful words. Wow. That's pretty sad, and happy, to read at the same time :)
    Love what Edd said.

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  41. This post brought tears to my eyes. Everytime I read about Edd I am reminded of my father-in-law, they seem like they were very similar in spirit. Both taken too soon but had such an impact on the lives of others. Such a blessing to know such people in our lives.

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  42. You're making me cry! And believe me, you're not the only one who relies on Dumbledore quotes. WWHPD?

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  43. So, so beautiful. I want to live that way - finding my happy and my grateful attitude for the things I have and I've been given. Edd had something figured out that I'm striving to. Thanks for sharing this. <3

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  44. Bless you Jenni, Your words and pictures touch our hearts and make us weep, but it's all good. you are a comfort. Love you.

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  45. Really sweet thoughts and words to think about, thanks Jenni!

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  46. Everything you said is so true. These past few years have taught me that without God giving me my husband, my family, and close, supportive friends, I would not have the hope to keep on going through the constant physical pain and problems. I wanted to share this video with you because I feel like it embodies exactly what you are saying! It's about a couple who met in college but the man got into an auto accident and, well... it's very touching.

    http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-story-of-ian-larissa

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  47. Everything you said is so true. These past few years have taught me that without God giving me my husband, my family, and close, supportive friends, I would not have the hope to keep on going through the constant physical pain and problems. I wanted to share this video with you because I feel like it embodies exactly what you are saying! It's about a couple who met in college but the man got into an auto accident and, well... it's very touching.

    http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-story-of-ian-larissa

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  48. Everything you said is so true. These past few years have taught me that without God giving me my husband, my family, and close, supportive friends, I would not have the hope to keep on going through the constant physical pain and problems. I wanted to share this video with you because I feel like it embodies exactly what you are saying! It's about a couple who met in college but the man got into an auto accident and, well... it's very touching.

    http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-story-of-ian-larissa

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  49. I love when you post on Edd. He sounds like he was such a remarkable person, and by you remembering and sharing him and what you're still learning from his death {and most especially from his life!} you're helping all of us think about some very important things too.

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  50. I am sorry to hear about your loss... I love your last sentence about how can you build on what already brings you joy! I am a firm believer that joy is a choose - and learning to share our gifts with others, such as listening, can be a great joy for others and ourselves! thanks for sharing such a beautiful story/reflection....

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  51. i love it when you share about edd.

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  52. A lovely treasured moment captured and frozen in time. It is funny how these little things that we remember are ones that seemed so 'everyday/mundane' at the time.

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  53. i wish i had known edd.

    i feel like i have though through your posts. i want what your mom and edd had/have.

    thank you for sharing this with us, jenni girl <3

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  54. i wish i had known edd.

    i feel like i have though through your posts. i want what your mom and edd had/have.

    thank you for sharing this with us, jenni girl <3

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  55. beautifully written, jenni. i think it's awesome that you have been processing this through your blog. it's good stuff.

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  56. Edd seems to have been such a brave man. I am amazed each time by people, who are struck by something terrible but still manage to look forward, to enjoy life, to not let their lot define who they are. Your family has lost a very special person, and I am so sorry for it!

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