Showered in Spades


There’s no easy way to say goodbye to a loved one. There’s no easy way to move forward. Despite all of the goodbyes and all of the sadness my family experienced in May, we continue to do what families do. Change and grow. And on Sunday, that’s what we did.

Just like when Anne joined our family, we opened our arms once again to welcome another cousin-in-law into our midst. She’s our cousin’s fiance and we could not be more excited that she chose us (well, she chose him, but we were probably a big factor).

I was thrilled to put on my party-planning hat and help host her shower. In true Megan fashion, I knew it had to be themed (see post from my sister’s shower). A quick peek at the bride-to-be’s Pinterest board and I knew immediately we had to go preppy and fun. What better way to do that than with Kate Spade?!

With a chosen theme, I set out on Pinterest to hunt and gather ideas. I hired my graphic designer friend to design the invites (copied from a Pinterest board), as well as recipe cards, and little thank you tags for the favors.

The result was fun and perfect. The party was fun and perfect. Our family is pretty low-key so we didn’t plan any games (besides, if I’m being honest, I’m not a huge bridal shower game fan). But there was an impromptu blind taste test (red, yellow, and orange bell peppers were involved), a hilarious photo that we sent to an aunt who lives in the PNW, and shared stories from the mother of the groom’s mom and sisters on marriage.

Here’s what it looked like.

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Please note, I erased all personal info for privacy. It looked a lot prettier than this!

recipe mock for blog

Each guest received a recipe card with their invitation. They were asked to fill out their favorite dish and bring the card to the shower.

I think I’ll be a florist when I grow up. Costco bouquets broken up into the perfect arrangements. The hydrogenous were cut down to fit into a candy dish (it’s not a vase) with a chalkboard that I wrote “LOVE” on. The other flowers were split into small gold polka dot vases from Hobby Lobby. The glass votive candles are my mom’s (I believe they are Orrefors crystal).

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Costco cutlery cleverly hidden behind napkins and skinny striped ribbon from Michael’s.

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I swapped out family pics for pics of the future bride and groom. I used the back of extra shower invites (which had the couple’s wedding hashtag on it) for decorations. Most of the paper products are from Hobby Lobby. The random striped gifts off to the side are for looks. The recipe box in the front held all of the recipe cards from guests.

I mean, the food alone deserved its own collage. And hostess fail, I didn’t get a pic of the chicken salad and croissants. You’ll just have to imagine those. Also, before you get super impressed, I did not make the truffles. But I did make the cookies. My aunt made the delish tarts. And the dip in the red cabbage is Penzey’s Green Goddessssss. And yes, it needs all of those s’s.

 

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All guests received a jar of my aunt’s homemade freezer jam! Yum-o!

Now, that we partied Kate Spade style, we’re ready for the wedding in August! Thankful to be adding another cousin to our midst.

 

So, this is love.


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In May, I had some scheduled events to attend. A bridal shower. A baby shower. A wedding. And one unscheduled event. A funeral.

If you asked me in April which event would be filled with the most love, I’d have said the wedding. Or the baby shower. Because, hello, they are all about love. A husband and wife. A mother and baby.

Love. Duh.

But then, I attended the funeral of my cousin’s sweet wife, and everything changed. Love changed, or I suppose it was my outlook on love.

Because I was there when love was lost. When the presence of someone who loves so big and so loud is suddenly gone. When the people who were loved so big and so loud are suddenly alone. Left here to wonder why and question how. Why did this happen? And how do we go on?

Without love.

At her funeral, my cousin spoke to those in attendance, words to comfort us in his time of loss. Stories to remind us of why and how. Why he fell in love. And how she captured his love.

Because of love.

My cousin spoke to his kids, to their kids, about why and how. Why their mom loved so big and so loud. And how she fell in love with each of them and loved them forever and always.

Love. Duh.

And it hit me, sitting at the funeral, the baby shower, and the wedding (I was unable to attend the bridal shower), so, this is love. All of it. The story of the beginning, the middle, and the end.

The falling in love, butterfly stomach moments that lead couples down the aisle. The then comes baby in a baby carriage moments. And then the moment where that love is lost. And those babies and half of that couple hold on to each other.

Because of love.

But the greatest moment of love is when it is lost. When love leaves, that’s when you realize how big and how loud the love was. Not at the wedding or the baby shower. But at the end when all you have left is the memory of that love, the impact of that love in your life.

Without love.

That’s love. True love.

So, this is love.

Our Family because of Anne.


We hugged a little harder. Cried a cry of sorrow. Loved a lot louder.

The funeral for my cousin, my friend, Anne, was on Friday. With every embrace, every sob, every “love and prayers,” I watched as my Cousin C and his four incredible kids opened their arms to one another, friends, neighbors, strangers, and my extended family.

Every hug, a moment.

Every whispered word, a prayer.

Every shoulder squeeze and held hand, a display of sorrow and sadness.

Every smile, a moment of fondness for a loss so great and hope so big.

We cried because we loved Anne. We cried because we miss Anne. We cried because our cousin and his family are heartbroken. We cried because we’re family.

And then we hugged one another. A little longer, a little harder. We cried to one another. A little longer, a little harder. We talked to one another. A little longer, a little harder. We said “I love you” to one another. A little longer, a little harder.

Because this is family. Our family.

To its root, we are planted. A tree of branches and leaves. We sway in the gentle breezes of blessings. We shake in the storms of the seasons. We lean toward the water of Life. We stretch up to the Son of Hope. We welcome a new branch, the buds of a new leaf. We say “see you later” to a leaf as it falls from our tree and is swept up in the wind. And we grow stronger. Together.

Right now, and for forever, this is hard. It’ll never be normal. It’ll never be easy. It’ll never feel right. We’ll always, forever miss Anne. We’ll always, forever feel a sadness and loss for Cousin C and his family. We’ll always, forever ache for him and the kids. And we’ll always, forever love and remember Anne. How she lived and loved. Always and forever.

And I know that our family will remember to hug. A little longer, a little harder. And cry to one another. A little longer, a little harder. And talk to one another. A little longer, a little harder. And say “I love you” to one another. A little longer, a little harder.

Because we are family and we have each other.

In every season. In every storm. In every blessing.

And because of Anne, we are growing stronger. Together.

 

 

Our own Anne spelled with an “e”: Losing a cousin


On May 1, my family lost a relative. Not a grandparent or great uncle or aunt, but a cousin. Cousin-in-law to be exact, but we don’t like labels. When someone marries into our family, they receive automatic cousin status – no questions asked.

That was certainly the case with Anne. She married my cousin, C, 22 years ago. I was just a kid when they met and married, but I remember being so, so excited to have another cousin in the family. She was a pure spark of smiles and laughs; always interested in what was going on in my boring eight-year-old (ish) life. Likeability was never a problem with Anne; everyone liked her. Loved her.

At every family event she’d enter the room with her signature smile and “helllllo!” After hugs, she’d always ask how I was doing, what I was doing, and listen to whatever answer I offered. She’d laugh and share stories, listen to mine, and provide encouragement in everything I did. Even after she had her first child (cue all the excited childhood Megan smiles), and then her second, third, and fourth, she always took time for me.

And I knew, from the minute I met her, that we were kindred spirits. While I couldn’t predict it as a kid, I somehow knew we’d share the same joys of petiteness (aka shorties). Our list of commonalities didn’t stop there. Anne was a gifted musician, teacher, writer, and sailor. Can you see how many things we had in common?! Of course, my piano playing amounts to Heart and Soul. And I’m probably more interested in Sea Bags (one of Anne’s favorite brands), Kiel James Patrick bracelets, Sperry’s, and preppy clothing than I am actual sailing. Although, to my credit, I did sail in a Regatta and I do wind surf.

Regardless of my skill level at the piano or on the high seas, Anne always found a way to connect with me; to share in my enthusiasm for the things she loved. When it came to writing, she pursued her MFA in Creative Writing for Young Adults and Children. A true interest of mine, she knew that I was looking into furthering my writing career. So, she graciously invited me to join her for an open house weekend with her program. I remember sitting in various lectures and discussion groups with Anne that weekend. She was beaming with excitement, in her true element, surrounded by writers. She made sure I was introduced to professors and her classmates, proudly announcing that I was her cousin. I remember her telling me that someday, I’d be a published author. To her core, Anne believed in me.

A year or so after my weekend with Anne at her MFA program, she launched her self-published book. At a yacht club. Fitting for her book and her life; sailing on the lakes of Minnesota. I rushed from work to the yacht club and purchased my copy of her book. She grinned from ear to ear as she swirled her Sharpie on the inside cover and wrote in her distinct handwriting words of encouragement to me. On her big day, she was still focusing on others.

Last year, she took time out of her busy life to beta read some of my work (a manuscript that is yet to be re-worked and lit agented). She offered generous compliments, critiques, and cheers. And I valued her opinion with utmost respect.

So, last Thursday when I got an email asking for urgent prayer for Anne, I jumped in to help coordinate emails, visit my cousin C and his four kids in the hospital, and offer whatever encouragement I could offer under such tragic circumstances. Because it’s what Anne would have done. What she did do whenever someone was in need. She offered support. Visited. Wrote words of hope. It’s just who she was.

And on Sunday, our own Anne spelled with an “e” passed away. I don’t quite know if I have, or will ever have, the words to describe that moment in the hospital waiting room. And I don’t feel like dwelling on the sadness in this post. Because this is about the Anne’s life. Her vibrant, always happy self that spread her joy to everyone she met.

She’s beaten us all to the big Party. And I knew that when I get there someday, she’ll be there with a hug, helllllo, and how have you been.

In the meantime, I’ll write some more words, love hard, and share in moments of joy with those around me. For Anne.

Thanks, Anne. All my love,

Megan