May I know whose hand I’m in


On September 18th, we lost my grandma to pancreatic cancer.  She was diagnosed back in July, and even though we knew that death was coming, it still felt very sudden.

This past Saturday, we laid her to rest in Richland, WA, and then celebrated her life during a 2-hour service at the church she had attended nearly her entire life.  My grandma was widely loved, and the hundreds of people in attendance were confirmation of her gigantic sphere of influence.  She lived her life so well.

This weekend, I was reminded of what it means to be part of a family – the complicated parts and the beautiful parts, the uncertainties, the joys.  To belong to a family means you’re going to laugh and you’re going to cry and you’re going to roll your eyes – and sometimes, you’re going to do all three at once.  Especially when you’re all sharing the 15-passenger church van.

Anyone who knows me (or has visited this site for any length of time) knows that these days, my family looks different than I ever anticipated.  Maybe you feel the same way about your family.  Maybe things have not turned out the way that you planned.  Maybe you assumed one thing with such certainty that your new, unexpected reality causes nothing less than an internal shriek.

Family members were missing.  We are broken and incomplete.  This weekend held moments that were so potent with reminders of the way that things used to be, and will never be again.

People are quick to glibly label those feelings “nostalgia” – but that’s absurd.  These feelings are more important than that.  The lament and longing that come from the loss of a former life that molded you into who you are today are no small matter.

When I was dropped off at the airport yesterday, I told my mom and our friend Sharon, “Going back to Denver feels really lonely.”  And it did – it does.  I left my family members and the town in which I was born, and flew back to Colorado alone.  When I landed, I took the shuttle to the long-term lot where I’d left my Subaru, and headed back toward the city.

As I drove, I remembered that I was missing a show that I had initially planned on attending.  Peter Bradley Adams is one of my favorite songwriters – maybe even my soul mate.  Probably.  Is he married?  Let’s look into this.

PBA writes some of the best songs I’ve ever heard, and I was crushed to be missing his show in Denver.  So I turned on his music, and listened to a song about the loss of place and of belonging – the loss of what was, what might have been, what can never be again.

And yet, his words have a hopeful, trustful bent: “If I wander ‘til I die, may I know whose hand I’m in.”

Of all of the ways I would like to be like her, this is the greatest: all the way to her death, my grandma knew whose hand she was in.  And prone to wander as I am, I hope to continue this legacy.



  1. Michael on October 1, 2012 at 7:59 AM

    May the words of the old hymn, and that ONE who inspired and inspires us to sing hymns, bring you comfort and strength for your ongoing journey:

    O to grace how great a debtor
    Daily I’m constrained to be!
    Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
    Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
    Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
    Prone to leave the God I love;
    Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
    Seal it for Thy courts above.

  2. Maria on October 1, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    You have a beautiful way of living your life, Annie.

  3. mom on October 1, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    On my way back to Kansas City, alone.
    All I can say is, “amen”.

  4. mrs. chesney on October 1, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    Oh Annie, I am so sorry about your grandmother. And so many other things. Thank you for writing this.

    One whose family is not as it should be.


  5. Doreen on October 1, 2012 at 9:16 PM

    Please know that our hearts and prayers are covering you through this though you feel alone, others care tremendously. Great thoughts, Annie. Hang onto Him!

  6. AnnieBlogs on October 1, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    You continue to handle life with grace and honesty. It inspires me. I love you.

  7. Greta on October 1, 2012 at 10:17 PM

    Yesterday at church, Richard talked about our tendency as humans to want to go BACK, and relive yesterday– whatever period in our lives that refers to. He said though, that God is not about restoration– rather, He is about *transformation.* The goal is always to move forward, to grow into something new– even while we let the yesterdays inform our forward progress.

    I am praying for transformation and for new ideas and new mornings and new reassurances of His love for you. Love you friend.

  8. HopefulLeigh on October 2, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Annie.

    (I love PBA, too! I have no idea as to his marital status, however.)

  9. meredith gruner on October 3, 2012 at 7:37 AM

    i love you annie. write more! write more! love what you wrote about family being different than we expect once we are older. feel like i am in the thick of that….

  10. paul on October 3, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    A few years ago I learned (in a somewhat dramatic way) that real life is never a picture perfect fairly tale. But that is ok bc the challenges and sorrows make the opportunities and happiness that much better. Im so sorry for your loss. But you are not alone! I am certain there are LOTS of people here in Denver who have got your back!

  11. Kathy on October 3, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    Peter Bradley Adams will be playing at the Cactus Cafe, University of Texas, Austin on October 5, 2012.

  12. Tad on October 3, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    I’ve been reflecting recently about what I experienced this summer at the hospital. Your way of putting things really resonates. These verses have been in my head as I’ve thought:
    “Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day; earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away; change and decay in all around I see; O thou who changest not, abide with me.”

  13. Alexis on October 26, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    PBA is a single dude! At least, the last I heard. I actually designed 2 of his last albums so we’ve met a couple of times through that. He’s a good one! And I love his music…I actually walked down the aisle to his song “So Are You To Me.” Love.

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