I Choose to Live


“You are the finest, loveliest, tenderest, and most beautiful person I have ever known- and even that is an understatement.” I love F. Scott Fitzgerald. So did my grandma.

My grandpa passed away on the day I was born.

My grandma passed away today, the day after my nineteenth birthday.

This is a clear sign to me that my life has meaning and purpose. To honor both my grandparents and my God, I choose to live each day fully, deeply, and intentionally.

Last New Years my grandma etched enduring words onto my heart.

It was 2am and everything was quiet.
We were drinking champagne and talking about our lives. I told her I didn’t know what my passion was. In comparison to each of my siblings, I have no passion for anything in particular. I’m not good at anything.

She said, “Nina, you don’t have to be good at any one thing. You don’t need a single objective or passion to give all your attention to. Your passion has always been everything you do, your whole life, your soul.”

My grandma understood me better than I understood myself.

A few days later on January 5, I was lying on my grandma’s bed journaling.
“I am so thankful for new years. It is the chance for everyone to begin again. In just a few weeks I will be given another chance. I will turn eighteen. At eighteen my grandma was already married and having my mom. What do I have going for me? Waitressing at El Chico? College, maybe? HA! There are so many expectations in those two numbers- strewn together to represent the ideal age. What is meaningful in my life? What significance do I find in the age eighteen? I don’t want to wait until I reach that golden year to redeem my time. Why should I waste today in hopes that tomorrow will be my chance to begin? I choose today. I choose now. I choose to live.”

Yesterday, being my nineteenth birthday, I recounted a few of my greatest blessings.

1.) I had the greatest childhood a girl could ask for.

We lived in VA. And NY. And TX.
My sister and I traded Pokemon cards with all the kids on the block. We ate ramen noodles and American cheese straight from their packages. Grandma let us sit in her lap and use the wheel to park the car ALL BY OURSELVES! My sister, my cousin, and I had fashion shows in our matching 90’s outfits. We dressed as queens in Grandma’s silky nightgowns. My brothers and I played in the snow for hours and made igloos that we tried to sleep in. I bought countless crap Christmas presents for Grandma from the Awana store.

This doesn’t even come close to covering a tenth of all my  wonderful childhood memories. That would take novels.

2.) I have the greatest parents and siblings in the world.

My mom is the bravest person I know. My dad , the most encouraging. Rachel, my closest soul, the most passionate. Wally, the most talented. Michael, the most understanding.

3.) I had the most beautiful Gram Cracker Maggie.

I want to say everything and nothing. I want to feel it all and then nothing at all. If I start to share my heart for my precious grandma, my words and tears get all mixed up and I struggle to type any coherent thoughts. My own words continue to fall short, so I leave you with words that communicate my feelings better than I ever could.

“She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul. She is beautiful.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

“The pain of parting is nothing compared to the joy of meeting again.” -Charles Dickens

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.'” Revelation 21:4-8

I can’t help falling in love with you Gram.

Bright Eyes


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