I lost my grandmother exactly one month before her side-of-the-family reunion. She decided to attend another reunion. One with my grandfather who awaited her arrival in heaven. After I returned to Utah from her services, I struggled to pick up the pieces of my responsibilities as part of the activities committee. Almost a year of planning and the thing that kept me engaged was the image of my grandmother's sweet smile and the happiness she would feel being around her siblings and their families. I was devastated! All I could think was..."Oh, Mama, you couldn't wait for just a couple more weeks?"
The reunion was fast approaching. After almost a week of ignoring calls and emails about plans for the reunion, I had a quick change of heart. One day, as if my grandmother were standing right in front of me, I realized-- more passionately than ever--that I am an extension of her and a keeper of her legacy. I understood completely the theme we had chosen for our reunion, "Keepers of the Legacy." That day, I promised myself that I would represent my grandmother the best I could and see it through. Wholeheartedly.
I now realize what my grandmother was trying to teach me that day. She lived a long life--90 years--and left a great legacy for me to follow. Her family reunion wasn't for her. It was for her posterity. For my posterity, my precious child. It was for me. To help me remember...my family...happiness...and life in the in between. And to also remember my grandmother's legacy. Though no one mentioned it, we celebrated her life and relived her memories with every prayer that was said, every sip of koko Samoa and every spoonful of food. And, believe me, there was food. Tons of it.
The sounds of Samoan music danced through the crisp Mt. Timpanogos air and we all laughed, yelled, and as we spoke over each other, there was love. Lots and lots of love. It is four days I never want to forget because life is short and in a blink everything can change. In that moment, seeing all my family together having dinner--steam from koko Samoa, the divine curry chicken resting happily on the white rice, and our breakout flash mob to LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem--I was happy. So incredibly happy. It was if life stood still. And I? I felt invincible. I stepped back and took a picture in my heart. It is embedded there forever. It's in these moments I feel alive.
Every morning, I blink my eyes open. I lay for a few seconds, then squeeze them real tight. And thank God. For everything. My pillow, my blanket, the sun, the pile of folded clothes that needs to be put away, the new vanilla air freshener in my car, my precious little family, my family's health, the box of Cheerios in the pantry... This list goes on. I simply start the day by expressing appreciation. When I think back to this picture of my family reunion, I can't help but feel thankful. For my bed, for my life, for an amazing family and everything my grandmother instilled in me. And this makes me squeeze my eyes shut every morning and appreciate life's most extravagant blessings.
To my dear family, thank you for reminding me that life is best felt when you're alive, in each moment.
And to think we had a lot more missing from this picture.
The biggest and coolest family tree ever!
Everyone old and young got into their team spirit!
Yup that's my girl doing her siva Samoa and Aunty Suvi doing thriller
Australia & Vegas entertaining the family
801 Holding it down during Talent night!
Every one of my dads siblings was here :)
801 putting on a show
Minute to Win-it