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The last days

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

When I think of my last days in Colorado, I will think of the temperature – days in the high 90s, the brutal sun beating down on the Mile High City, and me, applying SPF 100 like my life depended on it (which it kind of did). The air conditioner in my Subaru struggled, no longer strong enough to stand up to the heat. On the lucky days in which I made it to the mountains, I experienced Colorado’s iconic summer smell: pine needles in dry dirt.

And then I will think of the rain – the afternoon thunderstorms that you can set the clock by, raging storms that swelled the rivers and flooded my normal walking paths. Of course, this didn’t stop me from walking, although June was a Fitbit feast or famine (35K steps at the highest, 3K at the lowest – a day in which I brought shame to my family).

I will remember moving out of my house, everything in cardboard boxes and plastic bins, stuffed into the largest truck I’ve ever driven – and then the solo cross-country trip in which I got 6 miles to the gallon and took 16 hours to make it 900 miles. I unloaded everything into a storage unit, and flew back to Denver – because I wasn’t finished with Colorado yet.

I will think of Starbucks breakfasts and Chipotle lunches, just because I didn’t have a kitchen anymore.

I will remember my nephew’s faces when we all stayed up way too late playing games that made them laugh uncontrollably. And I will remember rubbing lotion into the 4-year old’s skinny, espresso-colored calves, and him telling me for the tenth time, “I saw a antelope! Outside! I saw it!”

I will think of my final appointment with my beloved and trusted counselor who, when discussing all of the changes I’m going through, reminded me, “Don’t put too much stock in anything you’re thinking or feeling right now,” which made me laugh, because doesn’t she know who I am?! But it secretly felt like permission granted. And when I said, “When I move to Minnesota, no matter what, I just can’t stop hoping,” she shook her finger at me and said in a hushed, urgent voice, “Don’t you dare.”

I will remember the entire year before these last days, a year in which life felt like it was closing in, like I was trapped and constrained, like toothpaste in a tube. And the day I decided to say yes to this opportunity placed in front of me, the day I decided to move to Minnesota, it was like the cap fell off and life squeezed loose.

Today I drive to Minneapolis, for real and for good this time. I’ve sold my house in Denver, and am in the process of buying a new one – but until everything is final, Foxy is staying with my dad in Colorado. Even though it’s temporary, leaving my dog is the hardest thing for me. I anticipate crying all the way to Nebraska.

The days to come are sure to be filled with newness, novelty, and fresh perspective. I am excited, and ready for the change. But as exciting as the first days are, I never want to forget the last days either. Because they’ve been pretty damn rich.


Our only comfort

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Last week, my sister-in-law lost her dad.  My nephews lost a grandpa.  And all of the Parsons lost a man who has been family for the past 9 years.

Today, Kent McElroy will be laid to rest in a cemetery in Missouri.  A few weeks ago, he chose his plot, and bought kites to be delivered after his death, asking that Jeremy and Ashley take Micah and Tyler to fly them next to his grave.  He knew that he was leaving.  If he could have willed himself to stay, he would have – but cancer does not honor our will, our wishes, our fight.

It is cruel.  It is callous.  And in its aftermath, it tempts me to be the same.

But Kent was the opposite.  He was generous, and positive, and selfless.  In the face of terminal, inoperable cancer, his heart was continually for God, and for others.  He touched so many in his 56 years – and never so many as in his last one.

I was in Kansas City last week to say goodbye.  It’s so hard to see death up close – painful, and terribly sad.  But it’s also an enormous privilege to be invited into that precious time.  I will never forget it.

Hearts are broken today.  They will be for a long, long time – and maybe forever, because I don’t know that we ever “get over” the loss of a loved one.  I think of my sweet sister-in-law Ashley, and how the mountains of her heart have slid into the sea – how nothing will ever be the same again, how nothing COULD ever be the same again.

But, as the Heidelberg Catechism says, my only comfort in life and in death is that I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.  I believe that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (II Cor. 5:8).  And even when I can’t see it or feel it, I have faith – and faith, no matter how small, is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).


What’s next

Friday, November 20th, 2009

I struggle with the question, “What am I doing with my life?”  I always have.  And with each passing day, week, year, I am no closer to finding the answer – I am learning to just take one day at a time.

However, even though I might not know what I am doing with my LIFE, I think that I will always know when it’s time to do what’s NEXT.  And once again, I’ve reached that pivotal point.  The doors have flung wide open in an undeniable way, and I am choosing to walk through them.

I am Denver-bound.

It turns out that my mom’s cancer is more serious than originally thought – and I need and want to be there throughout her treatment (another surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation).  The worst feeling in the world was getting that dreaded phone call, and being 1200 miles away.  I cannot rest in that reality.  My mom is my “person,” and I need to be close.

I am in the incredibly fortunate position to work for a company that does not see their employees as a commodity, but as humans with real lives – leading the “powers that be” to be gracious and supportive in the midst of crises.  Emma has a small Colorado office, and is willing to let me work from Denver on an open-ended basis.  I am heading west around Christmastime.

I am not calling it “moving.”  I am leaving my stuff in storage here in Nashville, and “temporarily relocating for the indefinite future.”  I don’t know what will happen, or where this will lead – it’s impossible to know what the coming months will bring.  But I just know that it feels too early – too sudden – to close the door on my Nashlife.  That may or may not wind up being relevant.  But it’s how I feel right now.

I am hoping to rent a room in Denver, or house-hop for a bit – giving me a place to sleep during the week, and leaving me free to spend my weekends in Colorado Springs with my parents.  So if you happen to live in Denver and know of any options, please let me know – because I don’t want to live under a bridge.

Obviously, there are still details to work out.  But I do know that this is “what’s next.”  Until then, you will find me crying most days, snuggling with Julie and Mel most nights, praying for my mom, and hoping that God knows what he’s doing.

Every story has an ending

Friday, November 30th, 2007

[Attention: if you have not finished the Harry Potter series, don’t worry. There are NO PLOT SPOILERS in this blog. Read on, my readers. Read on.]

I just finished “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” which, if you’ve been living under a rock, is the seventh and final book of the Harry Potter series. The book came out in July, and because of life circumstances, I didn’t have the chance to read it until now. Somehow, I miraculously (or… magically…) made it until now without having the ending spoiled, but I began to realize that I was pushing my luck.

It became a race against time – I didn’t tell anyone what I was reading for fear that they might give away the ending. I snuck onto the plane to Richland on Tuesday, and as covertly as I could, slid the HUGE, HULKING volume from my bag, trying to block the title from everyone around me to avoid a plot-spoiling comment.

I have spent the past few nights lying awake in bed for hours and hours, turning pages and savoring each image. Each time that a chapter would come to a close, I would think, “Just one more.” This continued until my eyes saw spots and drooped unwittingly. And then, when I would wake up in the morning, before even brushing my teeth, I would simply roll over and open the book again.

And yes, I made it to the end of the book having maintained the surprise.

The ending of a series has always felt like a death to me. When I finished “Lord of the Rings,” I sat quietly in my little armchair for what felt like an eternity, just staring at the blank page at the end. A good story brings characters to life, and they become close companions. A poignant tale can delineate my thoughts, and punctuate my emotions. I am not ready to give up Harry and Hermione and Ron and the rest, just like I was not ready to give up Peter, Susan, Edmond, and Lucy.

I feel sad. When a family member dies, we have the promise of seeing them someday in heaven. Maybe it’s silly, but I wish I could see the Hogwarts crowd in heaven, too.

Skedaddle from Seattle

Monday, September 10th, 2007

How do you wrap up 7 years of a life? How do you tie off all of the loose ends, the unfinished business, the burgeoning relationships, the tried-and-true friendships, the incomplete conversations? How do you look at this breathtaking city, blue and green and gleaming, and then turn to walk away? How do you say goodbye?

There is no way. I would rather just quietly slip away, ignoring the truth and pretending that everything is going to remain the same, than actually face the fact that I am leaving my amazing, wonderful life in Seattle.

My car is loaded: vintage flowered armchair, grandmother’s copper-front cabinet, dishes, shoes, linens, artwork, hiking gear, and more clothing than any one girl needs in my Louis Vuitton luggage (a yellow plastic laundry basket). My possessions are packed Tetris-style, and stacked to the ceiling; who needs a rear-view mirror when you have one on each side? My new car stereo is providing me with music for the first time in two years. And my new reality is glaringly obvious when I look at my key ring, down to just two keys: the ignition, and the Club.

In the same way that the summer sun has heroically held on well into September, I am holding onto everything that this city has offered me. I am savoring every moment, every sight, every sound. I am sipping my hazelnut Americano and pretending that when I close my laptop, I will not walk to my car and drive away from the first thing that I ever truly fell in love with: Seattle, my home, the city that wraps me like a hug and tells me to stay awhile.

But even if I deny it – even if I pretend that I will be back next week, that this is just a vacation – even still, here I go.

So it ends. And so it begins. Let The Big Trip commence.