adventures of an american housewife in the south of france

A Joyful Life, A Joyful Bed Beard

This week has been a tough one, dear readers.  I spent most of the week in Rowe, New Mexico with my family, saying good-bye to our cousin Amanda, who passed away tragically one week ago today.  I want to tell you her story because I think it holds an important message to share. Amanda was a senior in high school, 18 years old.  She was a cheerleader and a straight A student with a 4.0 GPA.  She had 6 older brothers and sisters, loving parents, and a devoted boyfriend who had recently survived treatment for a brain tumor.  She had been accepted to the University of New Mexico and planned to become a pharmacist.  She was a vibrant, compassionate young woman with a promising future.

Amanda passing out programs at my wedding, July 2009

Last Thursday night, her mom made her favorite dinner:  Cornflake Fried Chicken.  Friday morning, January 14th, Amanda kissed her parents good-bye as they headed to work and told them she loved them.  Later that afternoon, she put on her headphones and went for a jog on her usual path along the train tracks by their house.  As she was nearing home, the path got too muddy to continue.  Amanda stepped onto the train tracks to finish her jog.  She entered into a beautiful valley, her sister Leslie’s favorite part of the run.  With her headphones on and the way the valley was situated, Amanda could not see or hear the train coming behind her.  The conductor blew his whistle and slammed on the emergency brakes, but he could not stop in time.  Amanda took one last step on this earth, looking out onto the magnificent valley, and her next step was into a place even better.

The way that the Rowe/Pecos community rallied together to support our family was truly incredible.  You would not believe the outpouring of support, which is a testament to how much Amanda was cherished.  The viewing, funeral and burial were standing room only – it seemed that everyone in town was there.  Miraculously, as if as a final favor, Amanda's body remained intact - with only a single, small bruise on her forehead - so that we could say our final good-byes.  Amanda was surrounded by love in life and surrounded by love in death.

the gorgeous view on the hill where Amanda is buried

I am so thankful to be part of such a strong, tight-knit family.  As my aunt put it, she sent out the smoke signals and wagons rolled in.  The whole family came together to celebrate Amanda’s life and find peace with her passing.  She will live forever in our hearts and her spirit will continue to live on through our actions.

If this last week has taught me anything, it is that your time on this earth can be over in a blink of an eye.  I’ve shared with you before that my mantra in life is “no day but today” and my belief in that statement is now even stronger.  Don’t let words go unsaid.  Don’t let actions go undone.  Live your life in a way you want to be remembered.  And appreciate the small things in life that make each day worthwhile.

I still want to post a Bed Beard picture this week because even in the midst of tragedy, we must continue in our routine and find a way to move on.  This week’s Bed Beard picture was taken a few years ago, when Fig was about 18 dog years old.  If we can’t find joy and laugh at the little things, then what else do we have?  Fig is constantly a source of little joys for me and I hope his weekly pictures are for you too.

my precious little bunny

Take care, dear friends.

7 Responses to “A Joyful Life, A Joyful Bed Beard”

  1. Susan Davis says:

    Nat, I’m so sorry to hear about your cousin’s passing! And it’s a scary story about how it happened. A cautionary tale to be sure. It is a wonderful thing, however, to find out AGAIN what a wonderful family one has. It is a testament to the fact that most people are good and want to be connected and wrapped in the warmth of others’ love. You are a wise young person to understand how fragile life is and that God gave it to us for a short time to be lived to its fullest EVERY DAY. Most of us old people didn’t find that out till we got old! Bless you, Nat, and may God keep filling your heart with love to push out the pain.

  2. Julia says:

    natty, i read this with tears in my eyes. a beautiful tribute to a beautiful young woman. i continue to send you and your entire extended family (which now includes amanda’s friends and community) all my love and prayers. i couldn’t love you more. may amanda rest peacefully. xx

  3. Karen says:

    Natalie, what a beautiful tribute to your cousin. I can feel how much you loved and cared for her and I can tell that she was a beautiful pure person. My deepest sympathies for your family’s loss.
    I do agree that there is no day but today. Thanks for the Figgy Beard *hugs*

  4. Vivian says:

    Natalie, my strong, beautiful daughter,
    What a loving tribute to your cousin and sentiment about life. Though it’s only been one day since we left New Mexico I miss the closeness and love that enveloped our family. As always, I think of you daily and am reminded what a gift I have been given to be blessed with two wonderful daughters. I want you to hold in your heart EVERY day how much I love and cherish you. Life can change in an instant so continue to embrace life each day and know that you are loved :)

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