This is The Year

Recently over the years, as my birthdays have come and gone and I have grown older, I've found myself counting down to this year. It won't be a society recognized milestone birthday or a birthday that people would naturally assume as a transition point in my life. For many, this year will come and go as every other year does. But, for me, this will definitely be a turning point, or maybe a better way of saying it is a "passing point" in my life. This year, I will turn 34 and at some point later in this year, I will become and then surpass, the age my mother was when she died.

As this date has become closer and closer as the years have gone by, I couldn't help but notice the similarities between our life paths. At this point in our lives, we have both been married for about the same amount of time. We both have 3 children that did not come to us easily. Our child bearing years were marred with miscarriages and near death experiences. We both chose to be Stay at Home Moms as we lived the American Dream with homes and good friends and family to support our daily lives. We were both very involved in our churches with a deep love and gratitude for our Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ and their brilliant and guiding Plan.

This year, with its upcoming date, has stirred many emotions in me as it has neared. Gratitude. Fear. Excitement. Trepidation. Accomplishment. Sadness. Eagerness. Loneliness. It has always been about me. The accomplishment of making it further than she did. The sadness of not being able to share my motherhood stories with my own mother. The fear that there is always the chance that I may not make it either. And the gratitude that, chances are, I will have more time that she did.

But, last night as I sat in my most sacred of places, wearing the dress that she had once worn, I pondered this milestone that only I will have this year. As I ran my fingers along the lace of my dress, Her dress, I wondered when the last time was that she had done that same thing, and suddenly this year became much less about me, and all about her. For her, this year, was a year of Lasts. At this point in the year, she would have just concluded her Last Christmas. Her last plate of milk and cookies, her last Christmas morning filled with fun, excitement and Santa's Loot. She would be heading into the year that would provide her Last Easter, her Last Birthday, her Last Family Gathering. She would experience her Last Carpool, her Last Closet Monster Check, her Last Parent Teacher Conference, and her Last Kiss Goodnight. I imagine that often times the last time would come and go and she never got the chance to realize she'd never get that chance again. I wondered how many things she would have done different if she'd known it would be the last time.

I thought about this year I was beginning, filled with birthday parties, family vacations, basketball games, piano lessons, family game nights and good night kisses and I ached for her. My year will be full of her lasts and then I will awaken and get to do it all again next year. So, this year, I am having a plaque made to hang above my door that reads, "This Year, I will Cherish Today." So, that every day when I roll out of bed and begin my day with my family, I will remember that this day, for her, held a last time. And when my special day comes and goes and my life has surpassed my mothers, I will keep my sign to remind me that that day, was a day she didn't have. And I will cherish every one.

If you knew her and have a story you'd like to share, I'd love to hear it.

Whaddya think?


  1. Shay this is beautiful. It broke my heart because instead of thinking it could be a last moment(s) I tend to take them for granted. I hope you have a wonderful, enjoyable, beautiful year.

  2. Beautiful! We should cherish every day we have on this earth, and today I really needed to hear it. Thank you. I'm reminded that I met you right when your Mom passed away. Even then I remember thinking what a wonderful lady she must have been. Enjoy 34. Live it!

  3. I don`t have any stories about Aunt Peggy, obviously, but I do have one memory of her. This single memory has always been an amazing gift to me, and I know that Heavenly Father blessed me with it until she and I can meet again. In my memory, she is lying on a couch, with a scarf on her head, and she is holding me. Even though I only knew her a short time, I know that she loved me. Mom and Grandma have told me so many times how much you are like her. I hope it comforts you when are sad to know that.

    I love you Shay.

  4. What a beautiful post Shay! I wish I could have known your mother. I hear she was amazing! I know she would be very pleased with the mother, wife, friend, daughter, Aunt, & sister that you are. You are incredible! You inspire me to cherish every day!

  5. Shay, that was beautiful. Even though I never met your mom in this life, I've always felt a special bond with her since my parents gave me her name. Honestly, it was part of the reason I did not want to change my name when I got married. I did not want to give up the namesake of Aunt Peggy, who I've heard about my whole life how kind, caring, friendly, funny she was.

    And I've known I would have loved her ever since my mom told me the story about how she was watching Lauren and nursed her while my mom was away!

  6. That was so beautiful Shay. It nearly brought tears to my eyes. I am going to strive to cherish every moment I have as well, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

  7. Words can't even describe how much I loved her.

  8. Wow, Shay. This is an amazing post and tribute to your mom. You could publish this somewhere.

    I don't really remember your mom, but I know how much my parents loved her and how thoughtful and generous she was based on all the little things she made for me and Devin. I also know the best parts of you come from her and I'm thankful that I know her through you.

  9. My Dad's Mom says:
    Shay, What a beautiful tribute to your sweet Mother. Her greatest regret was that she did not get to finish raising you children. One night in her last year about two a.m .she called and wanted to tell me how much she loved Kent and thank me for his life. I imagine she was unable to sleep and wanted to share that thought while she was thinking about it. I always think of her and all of you with each rainbow I see. On her last day we were all at the hospital, and somehow i was the only one in the room with her. She was so very weak and not talking anymore. I said Good bye Peggy, I love you so much, and her fingers moved up and down in a weak goodbye, it is one of my most treasured memories. She like you was a very talented women, and such a loving Mother wanting each of your childhood days to be fun and happy.
    I think your plaque should be on all of us have to remind us of just how precious each day in our life is.

    Thank you for sharing your tribute with us. I have copied it to keep with my special things.

    I love you Nana

  10. My dear cousin, I cannot even imagine the range of emotions that you went through when you were writing this. My mom was here this weekend and was talking about Peggy, and said that she was always everyone's favorite - favorite sibling, favorite child, favorite aunt... and that nobody was ever jealous about that because your mom was so humble and caring with everyone in her life.

    Some of the most vivid memories of my childhood involve your mom. I'll never forget how patient she was when she taught me how to swim a backstroke, or how exuberant she used to get when she watched the Braves on TV, or how lucky I felt to get a hello or good-bye hug from her during each of our visits to South Carolina.

    Certainly her passing should remind us all to cherish every fleeting moment that we have with our loved ones, but we should also always try to live like your mother did. She had an uncanny ability to derive so much happiness from everyday life, and an even greater capacity to spread joy and love unconditionally and universally to those around her. She was a beautiful, remarkable, graceful, selfless, and incredibly loving woman, and the best compliment that I could ever give to you is that you remind me so very much of her.

    - jeff

  11. Such a great post! Thank you for this, it really helped to ground my feet a little firmer and want to go hold my kids while they are sleeping. Beautiful!

  12. simply beautiful, shay. you have a magical way with words. what a great reminder for all of us, every day.

  13. Jenny says:
    That was very touching to read. I remember being very aware of the year Burr had lived longer than his Dad and feeling the same hope, fear and sadness for him. I feel grateful everyday that I am still here to be a mom to my kids. What a tribute your life is to her!

  14. Her mother says:
    That is beautiful, babe.
    I could write a book about those last couple of years of your Mom's life. In fact about her whole life.
    She was an exceptionable young woman.
    We love her so much. I know she and Papa are so happy to be together.
    Love you,

  15. Megan 'Megz' wrote: "Thank you, Shay. That tribute to your mother touched me very deeply. I know that I oftentimes take my life and blessings for granted and I greatly appreciate reminders of how precious every moment of our life is. This year, I'm going to try to live every moment as tho it might be my last, for your mother, for our family, and for myself. Thanks for taking the time to write that blog, changing my life in a moment as well as so many others, I'm sure. I'm blessed to have you for a cousin. Thank you"

  16. Kristilynn wrote: "Shay, I tried to post a comment on your blog but could not get it to work. I want to say that you are truely you mother's daughter and that is a lovely person. I have many memories of Aunt Peggy, the one thought that will always be is that anytime I see a rainbow I tell myself Aunt Peggy is looking over me. My family loved her dearly and she always made everyone fell loved. Love you and your tribute to her unmeasuring ability to provide the best of herself which you and your familiy and siblings reflect."

  17. Raylene wrote: "Shay, she would be so pleased with the woman you have become. You do her proud!"

  18. Rene wrote: "You have me in total tears. I love you so much and loved your mom just as much! She was an amazing woman and I cherished the small amount of time I got to spend with her. Continue to live your life for her and experience the things that she wanted you to!"

  19. Oh my, you really brought on the tears. That was a beautifully written and poignant story. After Peggy's death, I too mentally marked the time until I turned 34 and then when I surpassed it, I often thought then and now, Peggy never got to do this... or Peggy would have loved this. I remember that visit in Columbia when [Dodger] took a nap with me and [Buster] wanted to come sleep with me at Jeffrey's so that I would not be alone. I was so sad that Peggy could not be there instead of me. She would have cherished every moment of having her grandson curl up next to her. Many of my cherished memories of her happened when I was a BYU. I remember the first snowstorm, it was a Saturday, and Peggy called and said she was coming to pick me up and we were going shopping. I told her we couldn't go out in the snow and she just laughed at me and said Provo was not Columbia, it still worked when it snowed. She took such good care of me that first year when I was away. I was only 17 and such a baby. Even those last weeks before she died, when I came to visit, she took the time to paint some bottles and other things for Shawn because she wanted to make sure I had things with his name on them. I have so many cute things she painted for me when I first began teaching. Outside my classroom today hangs a WELCOME sign that she cut and painted all those years ago. Every morning I see it when I open my door and it brings her to my mind. She would be so proud of you. Thanks for letting me know you had written this. It was a beautiful tribute to her. Give your boys a kiss for me.
    Love ya


  20. You had me in tears. I remember your mother like it was yesterday. I am you dad's cousin Angie Hadley Howell. When I was 16 we had a family reunion and I help you mom was her long beautiful hair. You have done her proud. She will always be with you.