Friday Thoughts: Quick Life Update + Easing Back In

Hey. Friends. 

After being gone for several weeks, I’m easing back into blogging today with a quick life update. 

It’s a hard one to write. Many of you “met” my dear friend, Holli, from this post a couple months ago. Thank you for your response on that post. I can’t overstate what your comments (and all the emails and private messages that flooded in) did to buoy Holli up during what would become the most painful and difficult weeks of her life. 

She was so inspired by you. She cried as she read your comments (or as they were read to her) as she realized that her life and example might have possibly inspired others and maybe even helped change lives in some way. 

Holli ended her earthly battle with terminal cancer a few weeks ago, and those of us who know her and love her feel the weight of the loss keenly – none more so than her husband and six kids and those extended family members close to her. My heart breaks continually watching this sweet family begin to pick up the pieces of a life without their sweet Holli.

two friends taking selfie

Grief is a funny thing. It invites itself in and settles deep in the heart without asking permission. It can leave you breathless and numb one minute, laughing and crying the next. 

At times over the last week or so, I’ve found myself trying to discount my grief and sorrow, telling myself that I wasn’t family to Holli – I was just a friend, and as such, maybe I just need to suck it up a bit? Get on with life?

But I’m learning, cautiously, that grief doesn’t exist on a continuum. One person’s grief is no less substantial or worthy than another person’s. It’s just…different. And we are all entitled to it.

After spending time with Holli and being in her home nearly every day for the last 21 months, I feel like I’ve lost a sister. And it hurts. I hurt for my loss. I hurt for Holli’s heartbroken family. I hurt for the injustice and unfairness of life. I hurt because, well, I just can’t help it.

Holli’s needs and her passing and her funeral (and everything else that is bittersweet and hard in this process) has occupied most of my life space, emotionally, physically and mentally, the last several months. 

Added on to that is all the other daily demands of life. 

You know. Like, helping an I-refuse-to-believe-he-is-this-old son get ready for his first prom.

teenager in blue suit next to wall

And troublemaking pigs escaping fences and peering in at us from back windows.

pig looking through back window

And making nanaimo bars with a couple of Holli’s sweet nieces the day after her funeral (Holli was born and raised in Canada but her husband’s family had never had the deliciousness of a nanaimo bar, so we made them in Holli’s honor).

three woman standing in front of a pan of nanaimo bars

And going through the motions of Easter traditions (this is my buddy “T” – Holli’s youngest son), and he was particularly excited to dye hard-boiled eggs. 

young boy dyeing easter egg

And fixing garbage disposals in shirts and ties in between church meetings because it’s the only five minutes in the day to do so.

man fixing underneath sink in shirt and tie

And entertaining kids with spring break diversions (please note: the teenagers wanted nothing to do with the “exciting” rides at the arcade). 

three children riding amusement park ride

And generally just dealing with the other mundane and not so mundane details of a busy, ordinary life while the world, near and far, feels like it’s falling apart.

I don’t feel like I’m the same person I was last year or even a few months ago. I’ve hit pause on a lot of things to figure out how I want to move forward (spoiler alert: I don’t miss social media at all but I DO miss this blogging space and connecting with you). 

Thank you to those of you who reached out wondering and worried if I was ok when it was so quiet here and on Instagram for so long. I honestly can’t believe any of you would give it a second thought or think to comment or email me about it. Your concern and prayers and thoughtful, thoughtful words have been a gentle balm to my aching heart. It means more than I can express in words right now. I’m sorry I haven’t yet responded to all the messages.

If you knew spunky, sassy Holli in person, you’d know that she’d be hollering at me to get on with life! Carry on! And “for the love, give the people the dang recipes they want, Mel!” (a direct quote from Holli, haha). 

So I’ll be getting back to it little by little. I’m picking up some stray pieces of my own life that I’ve let go by the wayside the last few weeks, and all of it needs to get put back together in the proper order. Some areas involving my kids and other aspects will require a bit more time and TLC than others. 

picture of woman with quote that reads God is always in the details - Holli

I learned so much from Holli. Namely: God is always, always in the details. She would say that over and over, even in the midst of her worst pain and distress. I have seen the evidence of this more times than I can count over the last couple of years.

One instance that stands out is related to this bagel bread. It is a pretty incredible story. Hopefully I’ll be able share it some day (this post is already getting too long).

In my short remarks at Holli’s funeral, I shared the following message and quote, and I felt like I wanted to share it here, too. It sums up the essence of who Holli is. She was continually focused on service and on her Savior, Jesus Christ, and despite her trials, she had a tremendous amount of hope in good things to come.

As you know, Holli passed away on Good Friday. And just like Christ’s friends and family spent days mourning and weeping after his death, they soon learned…that Sunday will come. The sadness of that Friday did not endure. The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death.

As Joseph B. Wirthlin so eloquently put it: “Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays. But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come.”

We love you Holli. Our hearts and lives will never be the same. We are forever changed by your dedication to the Lord as we witnessed how truly and completely you have always loved and ministered to others. I have no doubt that’s exactly what you are doing right now. I testify that Jesus Christ knows Holli. He knows us. He loves us. And He will carry us through the hard and beautiful days ahead.

picture of Christ hugging a woman with dark hair
{artwork from here}

Lastly, thank YOU for being here. For being patient with me as I have navigated a particularly difficult time. And for letting me share a piece of my soul here, even though this is “just” a food blog.

It’s an honor to share this space with you. I know we all face difficult, challenging, and messy lives at times. You are not alone. I am not alone. We are all in this together, and I have been strengthened by your goodness, your kindness, your vulnerability, and your virtual generosity in thoughts and words. I love your guts so very, very much.

I’ll be back next week with some recipes that have been patiently waiting for months for their chance in the spotlight. XOXO