My silly daughter convinced me to throw a birthday party for her dog, who was turning 10. So, never one to go small, I got a dog themed bounce house, matching dog bandanas for all doggie guests, made the dog cake into a bone shape (frosted with peanut butter and decorated with carob), had doggie cookies for their party bags. Of course, we had lots of human food and treats too, and my parents drove over from Sarasota for the weekend.

We had a wonderful weekend. I remember lots of time with my parents, just talking and laughing and eating together. 1 1/2 weeks later, my completely healthy dad decided to fly from Sarasota back to their main home in Tennessee to cut down some trees and clear some new property. This is what hillbillies do when they are bored. He woke up the next morning not feeling well, called my cousin who lives there, and died right after getting to the hospital.

This past July 4, when my mom heard our little 3 year old grandson would be flying up to the mountains with his Papa, she drove over to join us for the weekend. We had a great weekend playing with the kid, going on boat rides and little walks. Mom had some abdominal pain, and she is not very assertive, so I called her doc and arranged an appointment for Tuesday and a CT scan on Wednesday. On Thursday, the doc called me and told me about the tumors, later determined to be stage 4 pancreatic cancer. She died last Sunday, a month after her first appointment. 

In the moment, it is hard to look past the grief. 

But I know where they are, and they feel only love, and I have amazing memories.

The gifts are so much bigger than the pain.