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  • Ashley

2017 is Here

Well, it is officially 2017... In a matter of a few short weeks, we have received great news on the adoption front and have lost someone very dear to both of us. We are both physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted, but moving forward as life intended.

I made a small New Year's resolution this year, and I am already failing. I swore I would try to make my blog posts more uplifting since we have been real downers lately. Unfortunately, this post will still be a little on the depressing side, but isn't that how life works?!

Fist off, as mentioned in previous posts, Vince and I had three people close to us battling cancer and other issues. One of those people was my last living (maternal) grandpa, Papaw Bud. He passed away after a brief battle with cancer on January 6. Our entire family is feeling the loss deeply. He was definitely larger than life and has left behind a huge gaping hole that will never be filled. He was ornery and feisty, so it is hard imagining him gone, but he had one soft spot...his six grandkids. He loved us fiercely and was always proud of us, even when we may not have deserved it. Vince also became very close over the years to my grandpa and even considered him a grandpa of his very own. He spent most weekends golfing with him and my two uncles. So he is feeling the loss fairly deeply as well. Putting on a brave face and dragging myself to school and to the games with my cheerleaders is exhausting. I know it needs to be done, but more than anything I would love to be spending time with my grandma, who was married to him for 57 years, and the rest of my family. Unfortunately, I have responsibilities and I have tried my best to keep up with them all.

My cousins and I were reminiscing this past Saturday at his memorial service and I cannot believe how much I miss "the good 'ole days" with them. While we were actually living those moments, we had no idea the lasting impact they would make. We talked about the time we broke the ear off of a ceramic deer of our great-grandparents. Our grandparents knew instantly. We talked about the scary movies and ghost stories we stayed up late watching and telling at my other great-grandparents' house at Christmas and Easter and Thanksgiving. We remembered the railroad tracks we played on, which always got us yelled at, and we looked through tons of old pictures. We laughed, we cried, and through it all, we were wishing Papaw could have been there to hear us. He would have loved that. I know my words are not doing my feelings justice...but I have no words for how much I love my family and how greatly Papaw will be missed.

Time flies by in the blink of an eye...I am so thankful that I have always cherished every second spent with my family, fur babies, and friends, and I pray that I can continue to take it all in. Because one day, all we will have left are the memories and the pictures.

Another resolution of mine is to write down at least one good/positive thing that happens every single day. This has proven to be a tough task with the death of my grandpa, but I have succeeded in coming up with at least one item every single day. On the really bad days, it isn't much (the weather was warm, we had a 2 hr delay, etc), but it is something. It has been very therapeutic actually. :)

Now for the more uplifting news. (I need a break from the throat is burning from the raw emotion and tears I'm struggling to hold back.) We spoke with Kelsey from Faith International the first week of January. We have received our final approval letters from USCIS and received an email from the US Embassy in Tokyo saying they are expecting our arrival and are hoping to make everything as easy and enjoyable as possible while we are in Japan. The last piece we need is an email from the US VISA Department releasing our VISA number for our son or daughter. Once that comes in, which should have happened last week, we are officially on the list. But Kelsey let us know that since we are so close, she can tell us we will be third on the American list!!! There is also a Canadian list. The three ladies in Japan that are due in January have babies that will be going to Canada because they do not fit the US description of an orphan. But she informed us that we could have a referral within the next two months!!! WOW!

We are praying that we will have our son or daughter home before Easter, which is thirteen weeks from today! Not only do we hope this for us and for our future child, but also for my entire family. This will be the first holiday without Papaw, and we feel like at least if our little one is there, it might help ease the pain a little for everyone. I know that is a lot of pressure for an infant, but we think our little cherry blossom can rise to the challenge!

Another positive event to tell is that Stormy has been feeling really well since about the week before Christmas! Thank goodness! His kidney and liver levels are still high, but not as high as they were in November and he seems to be feeling like his old self...almost. :)

One final thought...sometimes I find myself wondering why so many things in our lives started to go wrong after starting the adoption process. I even had to ask myself if maybe it was a sign that we shouldn't have gone through with it. That thought left my head pretty quickly though. I begged and pleaded with God to let Stormy get better and my grandpa and to allow them both to be here when we brought our little one home. Obviously, God had other plans and took my grandpa home. In the last week I have come to terms with that to an extent. I have also found myself wondering if God held off on opening the Japan program until this year because He knew I would need this adoption to help get me through losing my grandpa and dealing with Storm's illnesses. I'm not going to lie, the one thing (besides my family and friends) keeping me sane, keeping me going, keeping me from breaking and falling completely apart is this adoption. Maybe the timing isn't wrong like I have been thinking...maybe it's exactly right.

As usual, I have included several pics below. There are a few of my grandpa and family, along with many pics of gifts we have received from family and friends for Christmas. We also splurged and bought the stroller/car seat combo we needed. There is a picture of the jar I am keeping with the good events from the year (the picture was taken on day three of 2017). Vince and I will open it next New Year's Eve. There is a picture of two of my cheerleaders had them made for me for Christmas (one for me and one for our little one). The picture of our official approval is included as well. The second to last picture is of the items we have started separating that we are planning on taking to Japan with us for our little one. The last picture is one I cherish. It is a photo of me, my mom, my grandma, my great-great grandma, and my great grandma...that's five generations in one picture! My great grandma and grandma are still with us, and I am hoping to get a picture of five generations at Easter for my child to cherish as well. Enjoy! :)

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