saying goodbye

God has poured  so much grace into my life over the last few years as I have been forced to say goodbye to more loved ones than I thought I would have to. In the past year I have lost a few very loved family members. My cousin, Tyler, died last spring. It was very unexpected and it shocked the entire family as he passed on from this earth just a couple weeks before his high school graduation. We are still reeling from that blow. Then, in September, my beloved grandfather, "Pap", went to be with his heavenly father. I cannot begin to express the pain this caused me. Until that day I had been blessed to have all 4 of my grandparents living.  I was extremely close with my Pap and, though we had some warning, it still felt like my heart was breaking in two. I found out this afternoon that this morning held another loss for my family as my cousin Nick was ushered into the presence of Jesus. It hurts my heart in ways I can't explain. But, it's also a time to be joyful. You see, Nick had battled with a rare form of cancer for his entire 15 years of life. He never got to be a "normal" little boy. He never got to play on little league or learn how to drive. He spent most of his years seriously ill, having countless operations, and trying his best to be brave. In spite of all this I remember so many times watching Nick and seeing him live life to the fullest. He would let the waves at the beach throw him around and laugh with delight. He would try to run and play hard with the rest of us (even knowing it would hurt later). He had the sweetest heart of anyone I know, and he cared so deeply about others. Even this past summer he went out of his way to show love to our foster sons. He played peek-a-boo, made silly faces, tickled, teased, and laughed with them. He couldn't stand without a walker - but he could play with 2 year old twins! The thing I have to be thankful for is that I had the honor of loving and knowing my cousin Nick. I got to see his sweet spirit for 15 years. And now he's in heaven, where there is no cancer, no pain, no tears, no death, and no good byes. My pain is only for myself, and the rest of my family who are left here for a little while longer. I feel only happiness for Nick and deep contentment knowing that he is in the loving arms of our Savior...