nine years later

Nine years ago today, life changed. I was coming home from school after meeting up with my mom who had been running our mother’s day plant sale. We hopped in the car and hurried home. We got there and dad was home too, which was off because he usually worked late. I began to run up the stair exclaiming, “I’m gonna go get ready for dance class!” When I was told to stop, come back, and sit on the couch. It was at that moment everything changed.

That was the day that I found out my uncle had passed away. It was unexpected. He had a simple foot surgery a few days prior and I had just talked to him on the phone the day of. He was supposed to be fine. Turns out, things can change in the blink of an eye.

My uncle was one of my favorite people. He was constantly showering my sister and me with so much love and joy. He really cared for us and would always remind us of how beautiful and loved we were. He was the person who could always cheer me up and make me smile. Even though he lived in Pennsylvania 11 hours away, he was someone I was super close with. The number of people who came to his funeral and spoke so highly of him was a true testament to the impact he had on this world. He was and still is, a major inspiration as to why I stay so positive and try to make people happy.

To this day, my uncle’s passing is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. Grief is a monster and one that in nine years still hasn’t gone away. I went through all the stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Except I still think I might be stuck in that last one. Yes, I know my uncle is gone, but there is sometimes a part of me that still thinks he is just at home in Pennsylvania making people smile and laughing with friends. It’s just how my mind copes!

I think about him every day, and when I think about how much I miss him I can’t help but cry. I struggle with grief a lot. I tend to internalize things too much and suppress the sad emotions deep down inside. I’m a glass half full type of person, so much so to my own fault sometimes. However, on May 6th I will let myself grieve. I will tell myself it’s okay to cry about because there is pain from missing home. I won’t let it consume me, though. That’s not what he would want! He brought so much joy to me and everyone he knew, and I know he’d still want me to feel that joy even on this day.

Nine years later, and I still miss him. I’m sad that he missed out on numerous dance recitals, high school graduation, proms, dances, my sister’s graduation, and so much more. But, I know he would proud. He’s smiling down on me from heaven while I’m making magic at Disney and guiding me with light. I hope I am making him proud and honoring him in the way I try to spend joy.

❤ / Bailey

The People and Places I’m Thankful for

Ahh, Thanksgiving. I have a lot of mixed feelings when it comes to this holiday. It’s a day to be thankful and eat all of the delicious food that you can stuff safely inside your body. However, for college students, it is also a last hoorah before finals kick in and our lives get devoted to the closest library. Anyone not in college probably starts to feel the busyness of the Christmas season kick in around Thanksgiving too. Despite the lingering stress, it is a good day to relax and be with the ones you are thankful for. That is what the holiday is all about, right? In honor of that, I want to dedicate this post to some of the people and places I’m thankful for. This in no way includes everything I’m thankful for (that would take days upon days of writing that I don’t have) but it’s a good summary.

My sister, Mallory. It just so happens that this holiday is also very close to my younger sister’s birthday. What a great few days of celebrating! My sister is someone who I am very thankful for. We’re only 18 months apart in age, which means she’s basically my built in (some might say forced) best friend. She’s someone who I can always laugh with, ask for fashion advice, dance to the Mamma Mia soundtrack with, and someone who can call me out when I’m being a baby. Thank you for being my built-in best friend. I lava you!

My parents, Pam and Bart. The people who gave me my name, my DNA, and my life. Without the two of them, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. They support me through school, encourage me to do my best, and push me to go after my dreams. I don’t have all the right words to totally thanks my parents for everything they have done and continue to do for me. I just hope I make them proud and that they know how much I love them!

My extended family. The Walkers & the DeVores are some extraordinary people. Even though we may not get to see each other as much as we’d like, I’m thankful for every laugh shared, delicious food eaten, hug given, and love spread. Y’all are the best!

The Dory to my Squishy, Sarah. I’m so thankful for that day in 7th grade when we were sat at the same table in Mrs. Cromie’s Geography class. From Wellness class snacks, to dance classes, to sleepovers filled with Very Potter Musical, to HSM car jam sessions, and all the Menchie’s dates in between. I could not be more thankful for your friendship. Thank you for always being there for me, providing endless laughter and love, and being the person you are. I thank God for you always.

My coworkers at FCC. You all bring so much joy and love to my everyday life! I feel so lucky to be able to work with such amazing people who help me grow and put what I’m learning in school to use. You all have affected my life more than you’ll ever know, and I’m eternally grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given. You people are the best and have become some of my closest friends! Also, the whole FCC congregation is just an amazing group of people.

My CC gals. Things may not have ended the way we would have liked last year, but you all still mean so much to me. I’m thankful for all the laughs and good times we’ve shared, and continue to share! Let’s have a reunion soon. Christmas gettogether?!

My professors & classmates. I’m not gonna lie when I was graduating high school I wasn’t thrilled to be going to ETSU. Now that I’m there, there’s no school I’d rather be at! I absolutely love everyone in the media + communications department, the professors I have who have helped me learn so much and increased my confidence that I’m in the right field of study, and the classmates who help keep me sane. There’s never really a day where I dread going to school, and for that, I’m very thankful.

My TAC family. Trinity Arts Center will always feel like another home to me. Although a large majority of us may have gone in different directions, I will always carry the sweet memories we share in my heart!

Those I’ve lost. Even though you may no longer be here with me on Earth, I’m thankful for those who are watching over me from Heaven.

EVERYONE I KNOW. You have all affected my life in one way or another, and for that, I will always be thankful. Each person I’ve had the pleasure of knowing is a blessing.

I’m thankful for everything and everyone that God has placed in my life. I am undoubtedly blessed in every way! I can’t even begin to imagine the amazing things to come that I know I’ll be thankful for. The world we live in is crazy, so it’s important to take time to reflect on the things we are thankful for. Make sure to tell someone how much they mean to you this Thanksgiving!

❤ / Bailey

In Memory of My Sunshine

May 6, 2010. That was the day that my life changed. That was the day that God decided it was time for my uncle Bobby to come home. I can remember it like it was yesterday. My mom picked me up like any normal school day and the whole ride home I was thinking about how I had to get ready for dance class later that night. It was a seemingly average. warm Spring day. However, I got home and noticed something was wrong because my dad was home. That was a rarity seeing as dad always worked until 7 or 8 at night and it was just the afternoon. I said hi to him then immediately began to barrel up the stairs saying “I’m gonna get ready far dance!!” But then I heard him say wait. He had my sister and I sit down on the couches and then he began to tear up and choked out the words, “your Uncle Bobby has passed away.”

When I think about those words I feel the same burning behind my eyes and in the pit of my throat that I felt that day. Of course at the time I was just 12 years old and did not know what to think. What do you mean? He can’t be dead. He had just had a simple foot surgery a few days ago and was doing fine. I had just talked to him on the phone a few nights ago.

This can’t be real.

That phrase was what I lived by throughout the days following. We had to pack our bags and make the drive up to Pennsylvania where he lived. We got there and spent the next few days planning the funeral and going through things in his house. We spent a lot of time in his house. The whole time I was there the feeling of “this isn’t real” lived within me. I was constantly expecting for him to come out of his bedroom or around the corner with that huge smile on his face that he always had around us. But, he never did.

I had already seen his big smile and had a great big hug from him for the last time and I didn’t even know it. I would love to go back in time and cherish those last few moments. I would make sure he knew how loved and important he was to me, and so many others I know. He made sure there wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t know how beautiful or important or loved I was. I hope he knew how important he was to me. He was my sunshine and light in the dark.

I know he’s watching over me now, but it just isn’t the same. It never will be and that saddens me. I know that he is dancing with God in heaven free of pain and beaming down on me from above. A lot has happened in my life recently that I have wanted to tell him or wish he could’ve been here for. I edited an entire yearbook, I got an internship, I was a lead in a play, I did my senior dance recital, I graduated high school, I started college at ETSU, I got my first (paid) job, and I recently completed my first year of college. A lot more has happened since he’s been gone, but those are just some of the highlights. I know he was shining his light down on me through it all.

Don’t forget to tell people how much they mean to you. Don’t wait to tell someone how you feel because you never know when they may be gone from your life. Never let your sunshine get dull because they didn’t know how much they meant. Everyone matters and everyone should be loved the way my uncle loved others. I just hope he knew how much others loved him.

 

xx,

Bailey

(If there are any grammatical errors I’m sorry. It was hard enough just to write this and I don’t want to have to read it again.)