My first year of college is over. It was good, challenging, exciting, not at all like I expected. I definitely feel like it forced a lot of growth and I could have used it to grow more than I did, but I'm so grateful for the opportunities God gave me and lessons He taught this year. I made some wonderful friends, had wonderful teachers, and a wonderful roommate who all made it a powerful year. I'm finally home and starting to unpack and look for a summer job, and it's wonderful to be back in my own bed and in a house with my family again. I'm sure after a few weeks I'll be itching to get back to school and friends, but I am finding lots to be grateful for here.
We lost our dear, fun Mamaw Sherry on April 30th, and it's been hard for my family. She was a huge part of our lives and had been one of my closest friends for as long as I can remember. My first cosmetology client, she let me try out hairstyles and makeup on her long before I should have been allowed to hold a hairbrush or mascara. I'm so grateful to have known her, and even though she was stubborn and crazy sometimes she was a powerful example of strength and perseverance and humility in so many ways. She passed away suddenly, at our house playing with her first Great-Granddaughter Gwen one week and the next week having a massive stroke and being put on life support until I could join the rest of the family at the hospital. My Dad and Micah and Kathryn met me after my first final of the spring semester to tell me to pack my things and go with them to the hospital to say goodbye. Perhaps the element of shock was God's way of helping us to cope with the loss, allowing it to sink in gradually while family was around to help comfort us and remember Mamaw. And it was a powerful reminder as well, because it's so easy for me to feel like I have lots of time to show those I love that I appreciate them, when in reality we aren't guaranteed another moment. When I was packing up my dorm room I found a book Mom gave me at my high school graduation, which was full of letters of advice and love from all the women I know and respect. The last letter in the book was from Mamaw, and it started out by saying "Emma Louise...I love your middle name. It makes me feel like I'm a part of you." I've never been as proud of my middle name as I am now, and I hope she really is a part of me. I miss her every day, and have trouble not feeling shocked when I sit down in services and she isn't there, or when Mom is talking on the phone and I realize it isn't her. I treasure every minute I got to spend with her over the past 19 years, and can't wait to see her again.
So, for now, I am having fun with my family, writing cards to friends who are far away, reading all the books I didn't have time for during the school year, babysitting and working at my fun coffee shop job, anticipating the marriage of Micah and Kathryn, anticipating getting to be an S.I. leader and an Alpha Club member and a Zeta officer and a PTK officer next school year (madness), then anticipating being in two more beautiful weddings this winter, and most of all I'm anticipating Heaven, where I'll get to be with all those who I love and miss praising the God who has blessed and challenged me so much over the past year.
(And writing incredibly long sentences.)
Thank you all for being my dear friends and examples! Let me know how I can pray for you, and I always solicit your prayers for me and my family. We are so blessed!