Remember this

Jan 22

Remember this

Last weekend our little family of four spent forty-eight hours in a little remote cabin in the woods.  It was rustic, remote, cozy, and exactly what we needed.  Brad planned the whole thing and he always delivers the most amazing relationship building experiences.  I love my husband.

We packed snow gear and sled, board games galore, books, knitting (Maren), friendship bracelet string (Greta), new Christmas art supplies, and all the coloring things.  When it was time to load the car, Brad gazed upon the bags (andbagsandbagsandbags) by the door and said, “How long are we going for?!”  Sorry honey, we do need all the things.

The four of us stopped at a teeny tiny grocery store that is one of the stores that Brad is currently working with at his job, so it was interesting for him to see another client, and for all of us do the shopping together.  The girls got PopTarts which is a direct correlation to their current opinion that grocery shopping is one of their most favorite things to do.

On Saturday we settled in with a cozy fire, reading time, a game of Monopoly, and exploring every detail of our cabin in the woods.  On Sunday morning, the girls decided to burn off some steam and mess up the pristine snow surrounding the cabin.  I retrieved the book Maren asked me to read: The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and I began rooting for the main character from the very first page.  Steamin coffee in hand, I nestled into an exceptionally comfortable recliner with a view out the front window to the hillside where my daughters played.  I alternated between reading my book and looking out the window.  The two bright spots of turquoise and magenta charged around with an intensity made stronger by the white blanket and crisp air around them.  They explored and circumnavigated our cabin. Sometimes their voices carried the waft and simmer of strategic planning and camaraderie.  Other times I heard shouts and squeals of glee.  And of course I heard tones of discontent and weight.  All of it is the verbage of siblings, different accents in the same language.  They made snow angels and circles of snow angels and snow families.  I kept looking up from the words on the page and smiling out the window.  Maren knelt facing my window and was building some sort of elaborate snow castle.  Her cheeks were pink and her long limbs straddle the worlds of imagination and reality in a delightful paradigm.  I could see Greta listening to Maren, and watched sixteen expressions flash across her face; she generally heeded Maren’s instructions but not before making some kind of flourish to put her own signature on her contribution.  Their exchanges were held with the ease and tempo of siblings long familiar with each others habits and quirks.  I smiled as I watched them and tears leaped into my eyes as I thought, “Remember this.”

So many mamas and papas watch their babies and think to themselves, “Remember this,” so that they can store that treasure of a memory and draw it out to tell them about one day.  It’s what mamas and papas do.  I have that instinct, but each time I think, “Remember this,” I am also struck with the vulnerability that my body may not last to the tell the memory.  It’s a sucker punch that comes in an already-raw moment of nostalgia.  And that thought, last Sunday, made the tears drip down my cheeks as I gazed at the perfect scene out the window. Brad came over, bent and kissed me, and we both looked out over our girls.

“I love watching them,” I told him, and as I looked up at him I could see he already knew but I told him anyway.  I told him how the tears come from happiness, but angst about being the memory keeper creeps in.

In response he reached for his phone and showed me the pictures he had been taking from across the room before he came over to sit with me.  Me, reading in my chair.  Me, watching them.  Me.  Them.  Us.  He’s keeping the memories too.  He will tell them about my tear-streaked face and how they were  tears of joy.  His pictures tell the story of the day, that in this little cabin in the woods our little family was my version of perfect.

The good thing about good things is that there is almost always someone else there to do the remembering too.  There are not many things I need to remember from when I’m alone.

Remember this, I tell myself.

And he does too, for himself, for me, for them, for us.

We rememberers, we remember this together.


* Today’s story captures a moment-in-time, and it also captures a glimpse of the fear that I live under which I referenced in my previous post.  I feel the need to reassure you: nothing in my medical situation has changed to indicate that my body is imminently failing, I am just — “just” (Ha.) — living constantly under the weight of a terminal diagnosis.  When I re-read my story above, it came across heavier than I thought it would when I was writing it.  I was tempted to delete it or leave it unpublished, but instead I let it stand for what it is.  

And I hope to be a rememberer for a long time to come.


  1. Kim Rourke /


  2. You have done so many days well. We are all learning to make all the days memorable. For the big and little things.

  3. Marlayne Skeens /

    My ❤️ Is heavy ~ My ❤️ Is lite w/Awe & you are amazing ?

  4. You are living every day the way all of us should.

  5. Dear Jen. You are such a beacon of light and inspiration. Thank you for sharing your life with us. It is a story of love and it is real in a world that needs real and love so badly. You are in my prayers daily and I know God is listening to me. Your light will shine forever, that I know.

  6. Julie A Talford /

    I simply LOVE this post and all of You!

  7. Aunt Annie /

    So heartwarming and poignant! Thankyou you for letting us glimpse through your window to experience a memory so precious!

  8. You and Brad have made so many magnificent memories for your girls!! You are amazing parents. I love reading your posts. They always make me think more deeply. You are always in my prayers! Love to you and your family!

  9. Kristen /

    Just wow…this gave me all the feels. Sending you love and prayers Jen!

  10. Prayers for y’all! ??

  11. XoXoX
    Because I’m not good with words. You (all) are always in my prayers. Lots of love from a little further north ?

  12. Lori6NV /

    That is one of the most beautiful entries you’ve written, Jen (and I’m a university writing teacher, so I know me some good writing)! So moving, and honest, and raw. Your blog will be something wonderful for your girls to read as they grow up (with you by their side, should your prayer army have any say in the matter). Have you ever considered publishing it? A beautiful snapshot of a bittersweet moment.

  13. Newbie Friend /

    I can relate Jen, tears and all. As a Nana I watch my little ones and my heart bursts with love for each one of them. I try to tell them often how special they are to me because at my stage in life there are no guarantees that I will be here when they are big enough to understand the depth of my love for them. Praying that you get the chance to share your memories and even hug little grands someday!

  14. Ahh Jen, I hear your heart. It’s beautiful. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I read your beautiful post and felt your honest heart.
    Way to go getting away and making memories. Thanks for sharing them. Shine on sister!

    • Jeanne /

      What wonderful memories and writing, Jen! We all get to be a part of the memory making when you share your experiences with us. Thank you. I’m sending a big bear hug to all four of you!

  15. Tiffany Nabozny /

    I’ll always remember this post. ❤️? So beautiful!

  16. Christin /

    I’m so glad you didn’t delete this post. It’s such a beautiful snapshot of each of you. How you live and love openly as beauty and hardship collide.

  17. Beautiful post, friend. So glad you hit the publish button. ❤️

  18. For much of this post, I was struck by the brilliant writing that captured such a perfect weekend — this sentence in particular: “The two bright spots of turquoise and magenta charged around with an intensity made stronger by the white blanket and crisp air around them.” Just beautiful! And then my tears joined yours as I understood what you were also conveying. Thank you for being “real” and sharing what is on your heart.
    I keep the memories for our family and wonder if anyone will ever look back over them. This is something you won’t ever need to worry about and that is an amazing blessing.

  19. Whew, I hung in there until Brad walked over and showed you the pictures he’d taken. Tears! So beautifully written!

  20. Jenny Garwood /

    Your words are poignant, and the sentiment is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. I know it must be so hard, but how beautiful that in your grief, you are also reminding others to cherish the moments they have.

    Thank you for sharing your heart.