15 December 2016

welcoming

"is wishing I could give my husband a hug."

That was my facebook status 8 years ago today...back when you updated your status in some sort of first-person sentence or some such. It pops up in my timehop each year now, reminding me of the day that Brad's Aunt Linda passed away. He was deployed, we were in Oklahoma and our family was in Michigan.  I wished more than anything that I could give him a hug that evening.

It has become a habit to spend some time thinking about her on this day, remembering the moments I had with her.  We didn't have a long history and we didn't spend many occasions together.  But the time with her lodged deep within and I carry it with me.

I admired that she was a creative; how she embraced her art and shared it well.  I felt I could have asked her a billion questions about all of it, but I never did.  I hope I told her that I adored her work.

a lampshade Aunt Linda painted, it brightens my workspace
Beyond her creativity though, was an inner warmth that drew you in.  I will never forget a particular time when she encouraged me so deeply.  We were at a family wedding, Brad was deployed.  I was there in all my social awkwardness. As we entered the reception after a few family photos, I felt alone and on edge.  The immediate family was all in the bridal party so they were all seated together on stage. My in-laws were occupied with parents-of-the-groom things and I didn't even know where to sit with my boys.  I sat nervously at a table by myself with Wilson - The Non-eater; and Walker - The Unpredictable. Aunt Linda and Uncle David came up, and Aunt Linda graciously asked if anyone was sitting there. The way she phrased the question allowed me to invite them to join me without it seeming like I was a loner. When they sat with me, others joined us soon after. As the meal got under way, I wondered if somehow Wilson's lack of appetite or Walker's lack of table manners would be off-putting to Aunt Linda and Uncle David.  I was a bit of a sweaty-wreck over it.  They had five well-behaved children and I was feeling all sorts of insecurities.  As we ate, Aunt Linda told a story about when her kids were younger, about how Uncle David had been travelling a lot; and someone did something absurd in public.  I wish I could remember the whole story, I can't.  All I remember is that as she shared with me, I felt welcomed and accepted and loved. My insecurity melted away and the tension in my shoulders faded. She simply shared a story and in doing so, she touched my heart in a profound way that I will never forget.

When December 15 rolls around and I think about her, I pray God would make me a bit like Aunt Linda, that He would weave a welcoming spirit into my soul, that I would be one that makes those around me feel accepted and loved.