For my Daddy Jim…

A few days ago, I lost one of the most special people in my life; my grandfather, my Daddy Jim. I have always been told of the sorrow one feels when they lose one that is so dear to them, and until December 6th, I had been fortunate enough to not have had to experience this feeling.

Losing my grandfather has been the biggest challenge that I have faced while abroad. The distance between Ecuador and North Carolina has grown significantly. Not having my loved ones around to hold, to cry with, to talk with in person is so difficult. I struggle daily with knowing that my grandfather would want me to be enjoying life here, but wanting so badly just to go home and be with my family. I came across a quote from The Four Agreements the other day that reads, “There is no time to miss anyone or anything because you are alive.” I am slowly beginning to see that life is precious. I am alive in this moment; I must not dwell on his death, but rejoice in the good times that we shared. I should not cry tears of sorrow, but tears of joy that he is no longer in pain—he is with the Big Man upstairs. I now have a little angel up there looking over me as I continue this journey.

DJ, thank you for riding down countless hills with me in that little red wagon. Thank you for cooking the world’s best pancakes, which to this day cannot be duplicated. Thank you sitting with me and watching episode after episode of Spongebob and not once picking up the remote to change the channel. Thank you for teaching me how to play Solitaire the “right way”. Thank you for starting my coin collection and for analyzing every coin I brought to you even if it was just a penny. Thank you for keeping that wheelchair just so that we could race around the house and down the hills in the neighborhood. Thank you for wearing glasses just because I told you they looked nice. Thank you for helping me with all of those family heritage interviews. Thank you for giving me my mom. Thank you for showing me how to get the most out of life and for showing me that life holds many, many chapters. Thank you for being an inspiration for both me and everyone you knew. Thank you for loving Nana with all your heart and giving us all an example of true love. Thank you for being a disciple of the Lord. Thank you for supporting me in all of my adventures. And most importantly, thank you for being you.

Before I left in August, my grandfather reminded me that it is not what you do in this life, but rather how it impacts you. I encourage each of you to appreciate how valuable life is, focusing on the impact of each experience. I hope that you will live one day at a time, not dwelling on sorrowful times, but rather rejoicing in happy times. I also encourage you to enjoy the time you spend with your loved ones, especially during this holiday season!