This weekend my sister, the beau and I went to Knoxville to visit my grandparents. In particular we wanted to spend some time with my Papaw who is dying of melanoma. The cancer has spread at an alarming rate and is now covering his body, including his lungs and brain. Throughout the almost year long battle he's waged, he's maintained strength, enthusiasm, joy and optimism. This trip, though, was heartbreaking. For the first time there was a marked difference in him that went further than his newly shaven head. He's tired. I know that. His prognosis is gut-wrenching in its breadth. Seeing him that way and having to face for the first time since his diagnosis that this may be the end has left me shaken and emotional this week. A week so chock full of "must do's" and "can't wait's" that there's no room for extra emotional fragility.
I've been trying to upload pictures of the weekend since it wasn't all solemn and sobering. We spent time with my cousin who took us on a tour of the new downtown Knoxville, where I discovered my new favorite store on the planet called Bliss in Market Square. We walked around campus and visited Tom Black Track, which is named after my great uncle Tom. I ate my weight's worth of goodies at Buddy's BBQ (in my opinion some of the best anywhere), Litton's (home of the world's greatest burger - where our family is kind of a VIP group thanks to my endearingly eccentric great aunt), and my grandmother's (all you can eat breakfasts of pancakes, bacon, eggs and more). To work it all off we stopped on our way out of town and hiked up to Laurel Falls, which was gorgeous and fun.
Truly, despite the pain, this weekend was rich in the joy that comes with family. I am so blessed with the loved ones God has chosen to give me, and even as one prepares to leave the world (although I'm not counting him out just yet. The man's a true fighter), I will forever be grateful for the pieces of him that live in me.