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Once I arrived in a certain stage of life, I became more aware of good-byes, loss, and endings.

Friends and family.

Favorite TV shows and pets.

Expectations and jobs.

Seasons and health.

Friendships and empty nesting.

Circumstances and dreams.

Is there such a thing? Maybe.

Although most of us don’t like change, it keeps coming our way, and intentionally doing change well is important. Loss is one of the most disruptive changes we experience and has its own set of rules. This will be a topic that we will return to again in the future. We can create space to continue to process loss and grow through it, when possible.

These seasons and events need different things at different times, including respect, honor, letting go, grief, forgiveness, and loving well, all continuous opportunities for growth in hard times. I will write about other situations, the challenges, and responses. We will connect over shared experiences. We will find hope and encouragement along the way, for this is a real dynamic of growing older. It gets complicated to move through the pain and get centered once again.

When I was in high school, I met Susan. We attended the same high school in a town of about seven high schools. I was a year older. She was a kindred spirit in faith and fun. We studied the Bible together with a handful of other young women, a meaningful time of connection and encouragement.

After we both graduated and I moved out-of-town, we drifted apart, but communicated now and then through notes, visits, calls, and then Facebook in more recent years. Did I mention she was an avid Cleveland Indians baseball fan?

Beloved, beautiful Susan

In 2015, she passed away. She headed to Heaven after a second bout with cancer. Her smile, wit, and intelligent caring conversation style stay with me. During her last days here and shortly afterwards, I experienced feeling that I wish I could have done more, along with sadness and grief. Yet I continue to be profoundly grateful for our friendship.

I read that she’d always sign cards and notes to her nieces and nephews with the phrase, “Your charming Aunt Susan.” In honor of our dear friendship, I close most blog posts with a nod to her, signing out with “stay charming, my friends.” That always makes me smile as I carry her loving friendship in my heart.

You have also probably lost dear friends or family too soon through disease, tragic accident, or perhaps a severe disagreement or need for emotional and/or physical safety. Those are dark times riddled with so many thoughts and emotions. With the missing, comes the remembering of good in our lives gifted to us in time spent with them or hope for what might have been. If you’d like to share something you do to cherish the relationship in your own way, please do so in the comments.

"Life is made up of meetings and partings; that is the way of it. I am sure we shall never forget Tiny Tim, or this first parting that there was among us." – Bob Crachit, The Muppets' Christmas Carol

Stay charming, my friends! Just like Aunt Susan.

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