As I reflect on the year that began with so much pain, I realize that love has been our constant companion both inside and outside of that pain. Love came to us in friends, and in the form of hugs and texts. It took the form of cards and covered casseroles, potted daisies and even a few corked bottles. It saw us through a year that was simultaneously sad, hard, maddening, bittersweet and joyful.

To paraphrase a few lines from a book I just finished reading, we are never entirely healed. We will be “a patchwork of love and grief, of gains and losses”.**  Even though it was an emotionally draining year, we saw through each other our ability to laugh and be happy. Lennon was right. Love really is all you need.

With a full heart I present the sixth annual pictorial recap of a year that was ultimately filled with love beyond measure.

January
After Pop died, we all needed a place to direct our grief. Tearing down his oldest and most decrepit shed provided our catharsis. This is the only pic I have of the day, taken after the shed had been razed to the ground. I wish I had a picture of the tug-of-war team that pulled it down. It truly felt like Family Olympics.

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February
Goofing around at my parents’ house one weekend, my dad and Vic played Heart and Soul together on the organ. (Go on, sing a measure. For the entire rest of the day. You’re welcome.)

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March
Baby Girl turned 16 and got her license. We haven’t seen her since. (Kidding…sort of).

April
A pic of my favorite men just before Aaron headed out to the Senior Prom.

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May
This. Just… this.

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June
Three days after we watched A Dog’s Purpose, a stray German Shepherd showed up at our house and wouldn’t leave. He looked neglected so we fed him, bathed him and named him Bailey. He’s a genuine sweetheart who lives with Charolette now, and Kasie and I believe he was sent by Pop. I just love big dogs with big paws.

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July
My kiddos altar served at our church for nearly six years. As Aaron prepared to leave for college, Vic announced she didn’t want to serve without him. This was the last time they served at Mass.

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August
Here’s the one WTH? picture. There’s always one. Breakfast time and one of our eggs had two yolks. Was this really the most exciting picture I took in August, you ask? Why, yes. Yes it was.

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September
Labor Day weekend found us driving to Ruston to leave a huge part of our hearts at college. I cried the whole way home. Max didn’t take it too well, either, and spent the next ten days sulking in Aaron’s room.

October
Part of our first-ever trip to New York to see Harry Potter on Broadway (which deserves its own full-length post) was the fun I had making t-shirts for our Hogwarts-loving travel companions, customized with each person’s favorite quote. And of course, experiencing the magic of Broadway and the Big Apple with my favorite wizard.

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November
Nothing like a wedding to remind us all that life is good, family is precious and true love is eternal. My oldest nephew, Jacob, and my newest niece, Cassidy:

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December
Remember that family I told you about in my most recent post? The ones who make Christmas entirely magical? This is them.  I love these people to the moon and back!

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Well, there it goes, folks. The credits are rolling on 2018. May your 2019 be blessed and may you find peace, love and joy in every single moment it holds for you.

Bonus pic from the NYC trip: I couldn’t resist. So long, 2018. See ya in the funny papers.

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** Clare, Cassandra. Queen of Air and Darkness. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books. 2018. Print.
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