It was a quick turnaround trip. 12 hours on a plane. 12 hours in the car. For less than 48 hours in Virginia. But it was all worth it. Getting to be there. Meeting much of my soon-to-be new family. Holding Kris’ hand as we walked into the abby. Listening as the family told stories about their Mawmaw.

I heard about how Mawmaw didn’t want to miss out on anything. How she would wait up until everyone else had gone to bed, and would always be the first one up, cooking breakfast. They all remembered her best on the porch, waving goodbye until the car was out of sight, and how they would always honk and wave goodbye. The most common word used to describe her was “kind.” She was the embodiment of kindness, spreading it to all she knew. Every time her name was mentioned, it was mentioned with great love and admiration. I listened to Kris express how he is a better person because of the love that his grandmother taught him. That when he makes his delicious mac-n-cheese or carrots he is making her recipes. And I am thankful to be marrying a man who is proud to carry on the qualities of love and kindness from his grandmother.

They said goodbye. They prayed together. They released a dove. And laughed when the dove perched herself on the roof of the abby, watching over everyone. “That’s Mawmaw, waiting till everyone else leaves before she goes.” Kris’ dad honked the horn as we drove away from the cemetery and everyone waved.

I was humbled to get to be a part of these sacred moments. I was welcomed in as a part of the family, even though I had never had the privileged to meet Mawmaw. Over the two days together, we ate a lot and we laughed nearly as much as we ate. Being in back in the South for less than 48 hours, I’m pretty sure that I ate more fried food in those two days than I have in the last 8 months combined. But man it was so good. And made better by the family it was shared with.

There is something beautiful about the time that is shared together at funerals. There are sad moments to be sure. But this was a celebration of a woman who lived a full life. She was 93 when she passed, and surrounded by family. She is remembered well, and her legacy carries on in her children, her grandchildren, her great-granchildren, and in her great-great-grandchildren. There is something beautiful about the way that family will come from all corners of the country to celebrate and remember. There are few moments in life that have that kind of gathering power.


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