Here’s Looking At You, Doc

When we first met in college, John (then known as J-Whit) was studying for his MCAT. I remember asking him what he wanted to do and he responded by telling me what he was going to do. I started jokingly referring to him as Doc one night when a tipsy sorority girl kicked off her heels and cut her foot open on a broken glass bottle before formal. I ran through the Castle with a bottle of peroxide yelling “It’s fine–he’s going to be a doctor one day.” (This surprises no one.)

And then one day is today. Medical school isn’t an easy journey, it isn’t supposed to be. But for us it’s been an all out war. I watched you struggle through the first year–wanting to quit because you’d never gotten a B before–realizing you were now surrounded by the rest of the #1s. I watched you balance fatherhood and being home for dinner and playtime with Rose which meant sitting at your desk hours after we went to bed to prepare for the next day. I watched you leave every day at 6:00 am to study for your boards and saw your hands shake when you opened the email with the results. I remember the rotations in your third year when I watched you move from the classroom to the clinic and the OR. And you excelled. This was your world, out of the books, working with people–helping people. You were so hesitant to fall in love with orthopedics because you thought you weren’t enough. “Let’s do it,” I said. So what if it’s competitive. Let’s go for it. And it meant months away from home for away rotations and you felt so guilty for leaving us girls. But we opened the match email and cried. It was worth it.

Four years ago at your white coat ceremony we didn’t know anything. Just two dumb kids that had a newborn baby in a new city and we no idea what was coming down the stretch. There were days we didn’t know that we could make it. We stumbled and stammered and mostly guessed our way around figuring out marriage, parenthood, and life. And well–to be honest, not much has changed. Just two dumb kids with a 4-year-old (crying) and no idea what’s coming down the stretch.

Through it all, you somehow managed to be what everyone needed you to be. You were where you needed to be, studied what needed to be studied, came to dance class, coached soccer, got up with Rose in the middle of the night, and still made sure we made it to church on Sunday morning with a little bit of dignity (and no sanity). You love God and you love your girls.

Today when Doc officially becomes Dr. John R. Whitaker, the world will keep spinning for most people, but for me, it’s going to stop for just a minute. Because it hasn’t been pretty–it hasn’t been neat–and some days it was just about surviving. But you did it. You put this family on your back and kept your head down. You never ask for any credit or recognition–you just work hard because it’s in your bones. And as this chapter closes, as we move from our first home and into the next, and the challenges of residency come, we’ll get through in the classic Whitaker way–by having no idea what we’re doing, but loving God and each other a whole heck of a  lot.

And in the words of ole Frank:

“I planned each charted course
And more, much more than this
I did it my way.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way.”

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.



Thanks, Obama

I need to say this write this. I have to.
8 years ago as an 18-year-old freshman in college I voted in my first presidential election. I voted against Barack Obama.

In 2012, as a 22-year-old first year law student, I voted in my second presidential election.
And I voted against Barack Obama.

I stand by my votes. I can defend my votes. I do not regret my votes.
I disagree with about 93% of Obama’s policy. (I really like oddly specific statistics.) On pretty much every level–economic policy, tax codes, health care, foreign policy, his role as a commander-in-chief…. I could keep going, trust me.

But I feel the need to reach beyond those single votes those years ago and express my heartfelt gratitude to the first President I experienced as a [kind-of] adult.

Thank you for your kindness.
Thank you for your dad jokes.
Thank you for never giving up.
Thank you for always smiling.
Thank you for giving really good hugs.
Thank you for taking the Office of the President to the people.
Thank you for putting your finger on the pulse of the American Dream and in your own weird way, for trying to renew it.

Thank you for fathering your daughters and guiding them through the tough years they spent growing up in the spotlight. The grace they carry themselves with reflects in you both you and your wife.

Speaking of which, thank you for loving your wife. Thank you for illustrating to an entire generation of young men that women are creatures to be both respected and cherished.

Thank you for the honor with which you treated your position.

Thank you.
Thank you for teaching me that while politics and policies and the way we prioritize them will always divide us, we can rise above that.

I have been privileged to be taught lessons about humanity that I otherwise never would experienced.
Lessons that say that character matters.
And that service trumps self.
Lessons that say that regardless of party lines and partisan divides, I can respect you and even God forbid like you because of the man that you are rather than the policies that you enact.

Above all, Mr. President, I just need to say thank you for your decency.

Love and Other Drugs,
E. Hunter W.

Maybe We Need This: A Look At the Olympics

This year, the Olympics have been blowing up my newsfeed (and my life). Everywhere I look I see people cheering on teenagers they’ve never heard of  and screaming at the Russians. Because Russians.

And here’s the thing. Maybe we need this. Maybe amidst all this political turmoil and division, maybe we need something to cheer for.
Maybe we need a 31-year-old retiree to come back in and sweep the field.
Maybe we need a team of young girls to make us feel some spark.
And just maybe we need history to be made and records to be broken and time to stop when our anthem is played.

It seems silly.
When it boils down to it–these are just games.
But they’re also the chance to say “This is who we are. This is what we do. When one of us wins, we all win. When one of us falls, we pick them back up.”

Because lately the City on the Hill hasn’t been well…so shiny. We’re got a lot of anger and bitterness and maybe we’re even losing our way just a bit without the light.
All the discourse and the he-said, she-said and the different stories that the media blares from sun up to sundown are taking its toll.

So at the end of the day.
Yes, they’re just games.
And yes, they’re just athletes–not superheroes.

But the next time America takes gold and the Star Spangled Banner’s first notes start to play, I dare you not to feel something. I dare you not to look at the Stars and Bars being hoisted and feel anything but pride.

Because this is America. And we came to win.

Just the Two of Us: The Tales of a Temporarily Single Mom

On Sunday Doc left us.

Okay. So that seems a bit dramatic. It’s only temporary, but still.
For the next 8 weeks, it will just be me and Rosebud attempting to navigate this crazy, busy world of being a working single parent.
Doc will be cutting people open somewhere in Cleveland for 4 weeks, and then somewhere in Missouri for 4 weeks after that.
55 days.
(Not that I’m counting or anything.)

SO. For 55 days, I will be responsible for shuffling Rosebud to and from school, getting her school supplies for her new big girl class, attending the parent meetings at school, laundry, dance class, dinner, bath time, 40+ hour/week job, grocery shopping.
Y’all, I’m tired just writing about it.

On top of that all, I hurt somewhere deep inside. Doc and I have never spent this much time apart and I don’t have anyone to put my cold feet on. Plus I have to sleep with the light on. Okay. Two lights on.

In the near future please plan to be regaled with hilarious stories about running out of gas (because I’m used to him taking care of that), and almost losing a hand to the weedeater, because hey–he does that, too.

Also plan to be regaled with stories of emotional breakdowns because I’m experiencing the reality that real single parents face on an everyday basis with no light at the end of the tunnel.

The truth is, sometimes you don’t realize what you’ve got until it’s gone. Even if it’s only 5 hours away, has FaceTime and is eventually coming home.
This entire process has made me appreciate the man that I married so much. Whether it’s the looks that say: “Hunter. You need to chill and quit stressing,” or him making sure my coffee is made before he leaves for the hospital.

This season of life is hard and involves a lot of tears. But it’s also pretty amazing to see the way God prepared us for this weeks and months in advance. He got my brother-in-law a new job in Lexington, meaning that now I have my family right down the road if I need them, and Rosebud has plenty of cousins to take her mind off of missing dad. I have my best friend’s wedding to look forward to which makes the time go faster. I have a great job that keeps me excited and busy. Doc recently got a new car that will take him safely to and from these long trips. Steve Jobs created Apple which created FaceTime to make the separation easier…..all for the Whitakers.

Every morning, I have to look in the mirror and tell myself that I can do this.
Every night, Rosebud and I FaceTime Doc and she marks another day off on her Frozen calendar.
And though I know this is only temporary….right now it really just sucks.

If you wouldn’t mind, throw your extra thoughts, prayers, vibes and hugs our way.

Love and Other Drugs,
E. Hunter W.


The House that Built Me

When I was 5-years-old, Grandma bought me a duffel bag out of a Harriet Carter magazine. Because what a quintessentially grandmotherly thing to do. It was pink and had a little blonde girl screen printed on it, and H-U-N-T-E-R emblazoned across the top. Along the bottom, in bright yellow letters it said “Going to Grandma’s”.

Most Fridays I would pack that duffel bag and take it to school with me. When Grandma and Grandpa picked me up on Friday afternoon, that was it. All bets were off. I was “Going to Grandma’s.”

I spent more time in that house than anywhere else in my 26-years. As a little girl, I scuffed up the hardwood floors running in and out in the summer. As a teenager, I learned to drive in the neighborhood streets. As a wife, I brought my husband and baby girl there to eat pancakes cooked on a griddle from 1954.

The house has looked the same since they moved in. No re-decorating. They didn’t even move the furniture around. When I hit the door, whether at 6 or 26, Grandma was either in her black rocking chair, or standing in the kitchen.

But here we are, and the final papers are signed.
906 Plainview Drive is no longer “Grandma’s house.”

My sisters and I went through her 88-years of life. Clothes and quilts, newspaper clippings of 4-H talent shows, pictures we’d colored in 1994. We took down pictures and emptied cabinets.

It looked so much bigger with everything emptied away. The shell that held a home. And I want to cry for everything that I had.

The house that built me.
Standing at her stove, wearing a red apron, Grandma taught me the prayer to say to ask Jesus into my heart.
Laying in the back bedroom, I learned that books and words could create power beyond measure.
Laying on the couch after knee surgery, I experienced servant love while she washed my hair in a pan.
Building blocks in the living room, I learned to start all over again when the tower falls.
Watching ‘Anne of Green Gables’ on the old VCR taught me about passion and heartache and laughing and growing up.
It was the house that built me.

And it always smelled like mashed potatoes and sugar cookies.
It was that house that built me.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

Guns, and Bullets, and Politicians, Oh My

There are politicians and special interests and party affiliates that will tell you the answer to the problem of gun violence in America is simple. And they are lying. They are telling you what you want to hear. Because what we as Americans want is for something to happen. We want action in one direction or the other, and so to look like they’re doing something–anything–they talk. But they rarely, if ever, say anything that matters. Following such tragedy, they act out in grand gestures like sit ins and protests. But they rarely, if ever, do anything that matters.

The policy process was designed to put proposals and laws and regulations through the gauntlet. Why? Because once a policy becomes law, it is terribly difficult to get rid of it. So we want to make sure that the policies that are put in action are the best, the brightest, and the fairest.

Even in times of crisis and sorrow. Perhaps especially in times of crisis and sorrow–we rely on Democracy to keep us safe–to keep us fair–to keep us American.

But following a tragedy like the one in Orlando, following the senseless deaths of our fellow Americans, we feel a deep fire in our souls to DO something. To change something.

I encourage you first to pause.
I encourage our Congress to first pause.

Because a solution that is not the very best solution doesn’t fix anything. We need conversation, we need public discourse, we need Conservative narratives and Liberal narratives. Because we need to find answers, and those answers aren’t going to come in hours or days or maybe even weeks or from only one group.

I don’t pretend to know what the right answer is.
But I will say this: to my left-leaning friends: remember this–criminals that are heinous enough to take the life of a fellow human will not abide by any law, no matter how well intentioned. The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise they will win and the decent people will lose.

“False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.”

And to my right-leaning friends: remember this–your fellow Americans are being gunned down. Their bright futures and all of that shining possibility–gone in a blast. The first response should always, ALWAYS be compassion and understanding to those loved ones that are left behind. They don’t want your guns. This isn’t personal. They want to prevent other mothers from being forced to bury their child’s bullet riddled body. Obviously there are people dying from gun violence, you can’t argue that very solid fact. If there’s an answer out there that doesn’t step on your own liberties, don’t you want to find it?

At the end of the day, there is this single truth: we have to try. It’s not going to be easy. But the greatest things never are.

“Usually when tragedy occurs, we see our nation come together. I was saddened to see far too many retreating to their over-worn policy corners and demagoguery. Let me be clear, there are no simple policy answers to this tragedy. Beware of anyone who tells you that they have the easy solution. It doesn’t exist. And I can assure you this — that calling people idiots, communists, fascists or bigots on Facebook is not going to change any hearts or minds. Today we need fewer Republicans and fewer Democrats. Today we need more Americans.”

I’ll finish by quoting one of my least favorite Democrats, because everybody gets it right sometimes: “Our enemies have always made the same mistake. In my lifetime — in depression and in war — they have awaited our defeat. Each time, from the secret places of the American heart, came forth the faith they could not see or that they could not even imagine. It brought us victory. And it will again. For this is what America is all about.”

I could write a book on what’s wrong with America today. But you know what? I could write an even longer one on what’s right. America today. America forever.

Love and Other drugs,
E. Hunter W.



Look Out World–I’m Sinning Again

I make a lot of mistakes in life. Like–a lot.
I constantly am finding some new way to get in my own way, or losing my temper, or “letting my mouth write checks that my butt can’t cash” to put it in Hudge’s terms.
I sin. Sometimes a dozen times before I’ve had my morning coffee (more if it’s a Monday).

I judge.
I hate.
I judge again.
I covet.
I lose my patience.
I run from the Word.

And that’s just on a normal day–you should see me during basketball season.

The Ten Commandments are full of some pretty heavy, pretty lofty processes and goals.
Don’t lie. Don’t take stuff that isn’t your’s. For goodness sakes, don’t kill anybody.
Don’t covet. Keep Sunday holy. Be good and respectful to your momma and your papa.

These should be pretty easy standards to match.
(They aren’t.)

But by far my biggest struggle in this life lies in the two (arguably most important) commandments:
1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
2. You shall not make idols.

Growing up in the Church from a young age, these two commandments always struck me as a bit archaic. Sure they applied back in BC whatever when the Israelites were over there worshipping gold cows and everyone was running around with Baal-Zebub (which I mean, what an awful name for a god–even a fake one).

But how many of us modern evangelics are going around praying to a piece of jewelry?
So as a child I went ahead and gave those two commandments a mental check.
Like, okay. I’m good with those. Never going to struggle with cow worship, so moving on. What’s next?
Failing to understand their importance and true meaning made me particularly vulnerable in failing to follow their calling.

But as I’ve grown and matured in my life, I’ve learned a thing or two. Okay, maybe just a thing, but still. God knew exactly what He was doing when He handed down those Commandments to His people so long ago. He made them uniquely applicable to the BC Christians, to the 17th Century Christians, and to the Starbucks drinking millennial Christians of today.

Because maybe your god or your idol isn’t as tangible as cow jewelry.
Maybe your god or idol is money, success, acceptance, adoration, your job, or shoes (guilty).
Or maybe of all things your god and your idol is a 3-year-old little girl with bright blue eyes and her handsome, bow-tie wearing dad.

What do we do when we create idols out of the very blessings God has given us?

I’ve never struggled in my belief. I’ve often struggled in my faith and reliance–but never in my belief.
I always said quite confidently that if anyone were to ever persecute me for my faith or to hold a gun to my head and ask me if I believe in God, I would be able to answer “yes”. Genuinely.

But then Rosebud was born. And the question became instead: What if someone were to hold a gun to HER head and ask me if I believed in God? Then what?

Wow. Hold the phone.

Thankfully I live in a time and place where my freedom to chose my faith is without persecution.
But what about Abraham? What about Isaac?
If I’m being completely honest, here, which I always try to be: if God commanded me to sacrifice my Rosebud as He did with Abraham and his beautiful baby boy, Isaac……Well–Boy oh boy would I fail that test.
Abraham believed. And God provided.
But could I take that chance? Do I have that strength? Nope. Nu-uh. No. Not even a little.

The Bible tells us to love one another. But that when compared to the love we have for God, those Earthly bonds should seem like hate.

What if eternal life didn’t include my Doc and sweet Rosebud? What then?

But it’s love, right? How can the God of Love deem loving a sin? It all seems so bass-awkward.
But the thing of it is–I’m not called to love them less. But to love Him more.

God gave me Doc and Rosebud, and in them I get to experience joy and grace abounding .
But even what I feel for them pales in comparison to what God feels for them.
So I have to give up. Something I’ve never been good at.

I have to realize that all the goals and dreams and desires for good things that I have for Doc and Rosebud are absolute dirt compared to what God wants for them.
So I have to bow to His love and stop competing against it.

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Ever.

What’s your god? Who’s your idol? And how do you deal with it?
In the (over-sung, over-played, super annoying) words of Elsa of Arrendale: LET IT GOOOOOO.

I’m going to fail at this today. And probably tomorrow, too.
But I’m really hoping God has a special place is in His heart for mommas that parked their car on Struggle Street.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.


This Is As Good As It Gets

I don’t have a very good memory. Things that go into my head get lost a lot.
I like to think that it’s because I’ve got so much knowledge from all my years of living that there just isn’t enough room, and so I have to filter out a lot of things.

But the reality is that it’s mainly just useless Disney trivia, a lot of facts about Abraham Lincoln, and the entire script to Forest Gump.

Either way, I don’t have a lot of moments that stick out in my mind, so the ones that do usually mean something.
I have this distinct memory of a field day in the fourth grade. Mom took off work for the day to volunteer at the parent booth, and the Italian ice truck came to the school just for us. I ran in the sack race and won a medal, and momma was there cheering, and I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I have a distinct memory of a Friday night my senior year of high school. About eight of my closest friends were all crowded onto a single trampoline with a bunch of comforters. We were staring at the stars and waxing poetic about the fear of graduation and the future and how much we loved one another, and I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I have a distinct memory of sitting in the front room of the house on Chestnut Street my junior year of college. I was surrounded by the greatest women in the world and we were all singing along to ‘Forever Young’ and with one another, thinking it could be true. We really could be forever young. I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I remember walking through the Colonnade after a Saturday afternoon tailgate and football game, holding hands and laughing with a cute boy with dimples and the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. We ran through the fountains and back to the Castle, and I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I remember walking down the aisle of a church with that same blue-eyed guy waiting at the end. I remember the part of the service that he leaned down and washed my feet to promise he’d always love me and serve me. And I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I have a distinct memory of walking on a park track, 9-months pregnant, holding the dog’s leash while the sun was setting, huffing and puffing attempting to encourage Rosebud to just be born already. We got in the car to drive home, and Doc said: “This might be the last day when it’s just the two of us.” And it was. And I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I remember having contractions and thinking: “This is absolutely as bad as life gets.”
Pause. Shudder.

I have a distinct memory of being in the hospital the night after Rosebud was born and looking over to see Doc holding her and staring at her for hours. And I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

I have a distinct memory of a summer afternoon that we all three spent together, working in the garden, swimming, and the smell of Doc’s grill. We spread out a blanket in the back yard and had a picnic, and ended the day on the patio swing. It felt like nothing in the world could touch the three of us. And I clearly remember thinking: “This is as good as life gets.”

Now. Please don’t get me wrong. These perfect days–more like snapshots–were surrounded by moments and days where I just didn’t know if I would make it through. But memory often colors those bad days.

In every season of life, I keep thinking I’ve peaked. Nothing could be better. My heart it so nostalgic, and it  aches to see chapters close and these seasons end. I forget to look ahead toward what good could come, and instead I dread the unknown.
I fear the things I can’t see.

So if today you’re sitting on the cusp of the unknown–take heart in knowing that there are good days ahead. Even if you think that today is as good as life can get.
Rest in the peace of the One who knows exactly what tomorrow holds.
Rest in the peace of the One who is preparing you for your best day. When it really will be as good as life could get.

And take heart in the fact that somewhere out there, I’m just as scared sh*tless as you are.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.


One of Grandma’s greatest talents, besides feeding us all full of cheesy, fried, Southern food, and knowing the tricks to every game on The Price is Right, was sewing. All through our growing up years, she would make these beautiful dresses for Christina and Martha and I. Always matching, which, as the youngest, I loved. Them? Not so much—they were way too cool. But Grandma could take these scraps of fabric that looked like nothing to the rest of the world—and she could see their potential. The dresses and quilts and doll clothes that they could be. She was an artist.

Maybe it was that talent that allowed her to see the potential in all of us, too. She believed that we could do anything (except make mistakes—her grandchildren could do anything but make mistakes) and in believing that, she made us believe it, too.

Grandma’s hands that could take a scrap of fabric and turn it into the perfect Scarlett O’Hara barbecue dress could take this unruly, loud, bumbling little tomboy and smooth out the edges and help form something that could be somewhat mistaken for a lady. (If you squint your eyes and tilt your head a little to the left.)

The day before she passed, I wrote a blog about her, and even now I can think of no better way to describe her.

Death is a strange thing. The strangest thing that we can try to understand as humans, I think. Our bodies are wired to survive at all costs, so when they eventually fail us, our minds struggle to wrap around that. We say we lost someone, but to be perfectly honest, Grandma isn’t lost. I know exactly where Grandma is. On Tuesday morning she walked with Jesus like she always wanted, and she held her baby boy for the first time in 21 years. And she kissed her sweetheart.
If anything, now I’m the one that’s lost.
Without my cell phone constantly ringing for her to “tell me just one thing” or just to hear my voice. Without my trips to the nursing home, and her cravings for Taco Bell.

When she lost her only child, my dad, I sat in Grandma’s lap during the funeral and slept through it all. She said holding me is what helped her get through the day, so the Lord must have planned it. That may have been where this special whatever we had began. What she doesn’t know is that her holding me is what got me through the last 26 years.

I just want to finish with a poem I wrote when Grandma was staying with me a couple of months ago.

It Is Time
She is pancake mix and chocolate chip cookies and pink lemonade.
She is buttercups flowers and knockout roses and yard sales on Saturday mornings.
She is evening walks and holding hands.
She is the nighttime reader who always said yes to “just one more.”
She’s seen the worst the world can offer, and remained good.

She’s the gift to my childhood–flesh of her flesh.

I knew this was coming.
I thought I was ready.
But I am the little girl again, not wanting to go home.
Please, please let me stay!
Please, please let her stay.

She has gone.
“It is time.”
And I am so very different.
How very much I loved her.
How blessed to have her in my world.
How blessed to have lived in her’s.

This is what I wrote for Grandma’s funeral–which was a lifetime ago and also only a second.
I cried today.
My first real ‘my heart hurts’  cry since she died.
Between all the funeral preparations and the estate probating and thousands of calls to life insurance, health insurance, social security, blah blah blah, I think I stayed just busy enough.
But I cried today.
Because I think I could search the whole world over, back through all of history, and never find someone who understood me like she did.

Thank you all for your kind words since last Tuesday. Thank you for your hugs and your thoughts and especially your prayers. And thank you for calling up your grandparents just to say hello.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.


Grandma and I have fallen into a routine of sorts.
I go in and help her pick her clothes for the day, wash, and dress. I get her dirty laundry, bring it home to wash, hang up the shirts and fold her socks.
It’s funny the way something so foreign can become so familiar so fast.

Smells you used to notice when you walked in the door don’t seem nearly so strong by now, and strange sounds in the hallway fade into the background.

There’s really no secrets between us at this point. It’s our new “normal.”

I noticed that her papery skin was getting dry and cracked so I picked up some Aveeno lotion and brought it with me. I was rubbing it across her shoulders and my mind was wandering at all the weekends and summer vacations I’d spent at her house. And this is our life now.

I brushed her hair. I trimmed her toenails and fingernails and painted them ‘shell pink’–her favorite. Rosebud’s favorite, too. Then I got her Taco Bell because she’ll be 89-years-old this year, and I think if you live that long you ought to be able to eat what you want, when you want–salt or no salt. And if what you want is a Mexican pizza, two tacos, and a root beer, then so be it.

I have no idea why I’m even writing about any of this except to process it myself.

She looks at me the way I used to look at her. Expectant. Like I have the answers, when really I’m just trying to figure out how to manage all of this.

All of our lives, grandparents have this special ability to make us feel so loved no matter what.
Growing up, we know our parents love us, but they also carry the burden of disciplining us. There’s always that risk of getting in trouble–because they are charged with shaping us as people.

Grandparents, on the other hand, just get to love without the hindrance of the “you can’t do that’s” and “I said no’s.”

Or at least if you’re as lucky as I’ve been.

My grandparents had this special ability to make me feel so….precious.
Loved isn’t the right word. And neither is special.
They made me feel like I made their world a beautiful place.

When I would spend the night at Grandma’s house–whether I was 6, or 16–she would come into my room at night, pray with me and kiss me and tell me how much she loved me.
And I believed her.
That no matter what I did in life and no matter where I went, her love and her prayers would go, too.

Yesterday before I left the nursing home, I helped her change into her nightgown–all of the awkwardness about modesty and whatnot washed away by this point. I leaned down to hug her and she kissed me on the cheek and told me “Thank you. I love you so much. You’re precious to me.”

And just like that I was 5-years-old again, holding Grandma’s hand as we took one of our walks.
I cried the whole way home because it’s hard to see the hands that cooked you a million pancake breakfasts fumble over buttons.
I cried the whole way home because I’d give about a million dollars to go back in time for just one day–to get up at 1 in the morning just to eat cinnamon toast and watch an old movie together–for no other reason than to be together.

But mainly, I cried the whole way home because even now, when there’s nothing she can really do or give, she still makes me feel so loved and so precious.

One year for Mother’s Day, we got Grandma a wall hanging that said “God couldn’t be everywhere, so he made grandparents.”
And with my grandparents, I’ve gotten to experience the truest, most unconditional love this side of Heaven.
And I hope you have, too.

Love and Other Drugs,
E. Hunter W.