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On January 11, 2006 I left a care center in Bountiful after saying good-bye to my Grandpa Bell.  He had not yet passed, but we knew it was close.  He was my first grandparent to die, so as I drove home I experienced a strange combination of emotions.  He really was the first person close to me to die (and actually his funeral was only my second), and even though he was uncomfortable and ready to move on, it was strange to think of him not being here.  As I drove, lost in my thoughts, I failed to see a school bus with its flashing red lights and the STOP sign pop out.  Luckily, the bus had just stopped and no children had exited the vehicle because I drove right through and the bus honked at me.  About an hour later I got the call that Grandpa was gone.

Today I was able to say good-bye to my amazing Aunt Mary knowing her time was also very close.  This lady has suffered for awhile (beginning with breast cancer several years ago) and just started going downhill a few months ago.  I think we all hoped she would recover and be able to enjoy life again, but that was not her lot in life.  Luckily, she has the most amazing family who have rallied around her this past week.  And I am so grateful I took the time to stop and see her.  I was able to hold her hand and talk with some of her family for about an hour.  For hours afterward I could feel the warmth of her hand in mine – I almost didn’t want to wash my hand for fear it would go away.  As I drove home from the hospital, I once again saw a school bus with its flashing red lights.  This time I prepared and stopped as the children stepped off.  But as I sat there I couldn’t help but think back to that day in January.  I honestly have not seen another “STOP sign school bus” since that day.  It made me wonder if it was some sort of sign (yes, I recognize how ridiculous that sounds).  At 7:00 tonight my mom called to tell me that Mary was gone.

If nothing else that STOP sign made me stop and think about life.  How grateful I am for my wonderful family, my knowledge of this life and the life to come, and how the little things that stress me out really just don’t matter.

Let the “Mary Bells” keep ringing……

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