Two and half weeks ago, I posted this on Instagram, begging for prayer:
“Sometimes life sends a gentle nudge along to remind you to take it all in because it’s fleeting. Other times, that truth shoves you and knocks you down with its gravity, saying ‘TODAY IS ALL WE HAVE.'”

We had just received the news that my precious mother-in-law, Brandon’s step-mom, was diagnosed with AML, a type of leukemia. 

Our world stopped. Hard. 

The prognosis was given and we were completely devastated.

A year? That can’t be right; that’s not enough time! We need more time. 

Quickly, things got worse, much worse, and the forecast of time was drastically reduced. Days, only DAYS. And suddenly we were begging for that one year back. 


Just four days following that diagnosis, Joy was gone.

How can it be? Will it ever seem real?

Those few days were a time warp. Time was moving not at all, and so fast we couldn’t catch our breath.

We stood bedside, we prayed, we paced, we cried, we hugged, we told stories, we sobbed, we held hands, we stood in the gap. For each other. For Joy. We told her we loved her. Again and again and again. We love you so much, Joy. You were so easy to love.

I wish I didn’t know this, but now I can confirm: those hospice walls have heard prayers that only the language of the heart can utter, because the actual words in my mouth, they just wouldn’t come. 


Every time my two year old asks “Mimi Joy?” my heart simultaneously swells and breaks. We will never stop talking about her and remembering. Remembering is a gift, and I plan to use it to it’s fullest until the memories are frayed and faded and worn at the edges. I’ll never put them on a shelf. They will be part of our everyday; she will be part of our everyday. It’s the least we can do for someone who did so much for so many. 

If you knew Joy at all, you know this is true.


As I sit here, remembering, I still long for that year. The year we thought we would have; the year we resented until it was traded for less. 

What a difference a new perspective makes. It’s as if we started down a hallway with lots of doors and possibilities, only to discover all but one of them were locked.


I won’t pretend to think I can sum Joy up in one single blog post, but some of my remembering has brought sweet moments from the past decade that I knew her back into view. Placing them here is my way of dusting them off, shining them up, and displaying them like pictures in a frame.

I will miss her amazing Christmas Eve breakfast tradition.

I will miss her checking in to see when she can babysit, and the “oh Shanna, we would love to!” whenever I was the one asking.

I will miss her texting Brandon about his daddy, whenever she had a concern.

I will miss her love for a good monogram. And all things Southern.

I will miss the heart conversations about life, motherhood, and marriage.

I will miss the way she would brag and dote on Aven and all of her grandkids in that proud grandmother way.

I will miss texts from her about the latest “Bachelor” cast-off and who should have gone home instead.

I will miss the way she would smirk and say “Brandon, you are just like your daddy.”

I will miss the cards she sent in the mail for every occasion.

I will miss seeing her get easily choked up over prayers and sweet family moments.

I will miss the play-by-play texts of conversations she had with Aven while she was babysitting.

I will miss her helping hand, her servant heart, her kind and humble spirit.

I will miss her gift of encouragement. She was such a cheerleader to me when it came to my writing and my mothering.

I will miss seeing her snuggle up with Aven in her recliner, rocking the day away.

I will miss everything about her.

If you are in need of a reminder on the brevity and importance of life, as we all are from time to time, let me be the one to say it today:

All we have is now. Today. Holding back is not a luxury you have. Joy would tell you to live and love with your whole heart.

And we will.

We love you and miss you every day Joy.

“…we are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8

2 thoughts on “Joy.

  1. Anonymous March 16, 2016 / 2:05 am

    **If you leave a comment without signing into a profile, make sure you click “Anonymous” where it says “Comment as”. Thanks everyone!
    – Shanna


  2. Pingback: Finn’s Nursery

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