Standing about 45 minutes in line, you catch snip-its of peoples connection to her, or the family. Things like, "My granddaddy and her great-granddaddy were brothers", or "My sister would always say 'Ms. Janice...'", or "We always talked at church". There are her grandchildren (the two I know), Scott's cousins, Aleshia and Taylor whose love for her reminds me of my own Gram. They were strong and brave, most likely drawing from a strength in Christ they learned from the very lady they were all sad to have lost.
Then there's me, I've known Janice about 7 or 8 years and been around her maybe only 5 or 6 times at family gatherings. One of the first conversations I recall, she was asking Scott about his retirement from the service and beginning his career as an educator, something obviously dear to her. She showed similar interest in the educational path I was on as I worked toward the classroom as well. After the kids came along, she was always quick to ask about each of them. Our conversations were generally short, usually because I had to chase a kid out of something, but always caring.
But, the connection to her that means the most to me, that stands out when I think of her now, is how much she loved my blog. She almost always responded with some form of approval, either a smiley face, a heart or a simple line expressing her joy in reading our story. I will tell you that I don't write this story for anyone other than myself, but I find myself now realizing how much I will miss her endearing affirmation. How much I loved seeing her name come through on email with another smile, another note that she 'just loved reading our story'. I would tell Scott, 'Well, Janice liked it, so I'm good.'
So, in my excitement to share the news that we finally have an adoption date (3 weeks from today!!!!!!!!!!), I am saddened that she won't get to read it. She would have sent a big smiley face.
To her family, our family, what a woman. What a legacy. Sherry, your love for her is something special. I consider it a blessing that I knew her, that she loved us, even if it was just a few short years.
I'm heading to bed tonight with thoughts of the first time I held my girl. The first time I knew I loved her. The two long years it's been waiting for this time to come that she would finally share our name. My mom holding my girl. Picturing our court date, when the judge declares her officially ours. In the midst of all these mommy, daughter moments in my mind, is the way you let go of a few tears tonight as we hugged, tears full of exhaustion and grief over the loss of your mom, and I think...
what a special gift it is to have, and to be, a daughter.