Twirling Delight

Feb 21

Twirling Delight

This past Sunday was Valentine’s Day and the girls and I had the chance to have a casual night of soup & sandwiches with Norv, Roz and Kate – Grandad, Nana and Aunt to the girls; “outlaws” to me ;-).  As we were sitting down, a new picture on the wall caught my eye.  It was a recent gift from one of the cherished Aussie cousins taken during her visit to the U.S. in Jan 2003.  Kate, Roz, Megan, Jen and Norv in New York’s Central Park.  It is a beautiful photo that strikes me as iconic for the family – the kind that should feature prominently for the next generations.  I couldn’t stop looking at it that night nor have I forgotten it since.  It makes me smile and yet triggers tears.  Most importantly, it makes me want to be still and appreciate the endearing and enduring love and interdependence of this family.  In the image, they seem to stand in silent, unified reflection, as if to acknowledge the wisdom in their meandering paths with a gaze to what might lie ahead.


A couple of weeks ago Greta and I had an impromptu daddy-daughter date.  I picked her up from school at noon on Monday, canceled my afternoon meetings and we made an immediate dash for hot chocolate and an afternoon of Legos in our basement.  Truth be told, the prior night had been a tough one.  Sometimes the weight of loss is delayed, but the pent-up fright of loneliness is devastating – especially when it can’t be fixed.  Such raw moments are unscripted, but can also offer opportunity to find peace and growth.  It was in this context that we discussed how it’s not possible for us to lose mom … that we cannot lose what we truly possess – our experiences, our choices and our hope.  We talked about how mom is and always will be a part in each of those.  She will be with us in our story-telling.  We will hear her voice and wisdom when we ponder our decisions.  We talk to her in our new moments.  And as our favorite Hebrews verse tells us, she surrounds us as part of the great cloud of witnesses that encourages us to run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us.  We have hope that, by the grace of God, we will be with her again.  It’s not the same as her being here now.  But we both took encouragement by acknowledging that distance is not the same thing as absence and mom will always be running with us – encouragement that we will be known and never alone.


And so, the tears that came with the Mathie family photo were tears of joy – laced, of course, with the paradox of pain, reverence and great hope for the future.  The beauty of an iconic photo is that it immediately conjures other related memories.  Just one month after that photo of the Mathie’s in New York, I was introducing Jen to my family in (of all places) New York city.  An unexpected winter blizzard that weekend produced one of my most cherished images of Jen.  Amidst the spontaneous fun of giant, endless snowflakes, Jen twirled with a beaming smile, laughter and arms flung wide in complete freedom of the moment.  As we celebrate our new moments, it is the image and magic from this story that replays with me in the here and now.

Just this week, a beautiful baby girl and a beautiful baby boy were welcomed to the extended family!  And within about a month we will welcome another beautiful baby girl!  The family near and far is celebrating.  Undoubtedly, Jen is also ecstatic.  She stands surrounding us, gazing with awe at what lies ahead, twirling with delight at the beauty of what is before us.


  1. jennifer mcneely /

    Love this!

  2. Marlayne Skeens /


  3. Kathi Roth /

    Beautifully poignant.

  4. Brad – your writing is so powerful, clear and beautiful! Jen certainly picked the best man with whom to share her life

  5. Lindsay /

    Seeing the “Do Today Well” updates takes my breath away and always brings a smile to my face. Love both of those photos!!

  6. Conni Carlson /

    So very nice to hear from you and fill these days with great memories of the love the two of you shared with your sweet girls and family. Hugs from my family to yours!

  7. Denise O’Mara /

    Beautiful words spoken with love. Jen lives on in our Doing today well.

  8. Wow, Jen always was about the present moment, and you and the girls continue to do the same. So beautiful. And those pictures take my breath away too. You are loving and living well moment to moment in the fiercely hard and beautifully complex. Thanks for that example. Stunning to me.

  9. Every one of your words is so well chosen. She truly is living on through each of you and in each of you. Your self awareness and courage to face the tough conversations is such a brilliant gift. A belated Happy Valentines to three of the bravest hearts I know! 💗

  10. Kristen /

    Thank you for continuing to share. Love those images and your heartfelt words.

  11. Lori6NV /

    Thank you for continuing to write, Brad. Jen’s stranger-friends near and far appreciate it. Extra prayers for sweet Greta.

  12. Beautiful writing and memorie, Brad! What a wonderful legacy you are leaving on this earth. Stunning photos filled with joy and togetherness!
    We love you and your girls!

  13. Carol hover /

    Beautiful words and great love.

  14. I love the image of her twirling in the snow. 🥰 Brad, I’m so sorry for the pain and grief and loneliness that comes with remembering. I am in awe of how you use these moments to teach beautiful things to your girls, and to us. Lots of hugs buddy.

  15. Ritsema /

    Thank you for sharing how Jen’s life lives on in your family. Your intentionality and authenticity with your girls is a gift!

  16. Bonnie B /

    Brad, when I muse over you and Jen…my heart rejoices in the fact that God Knew in His sovereignty that you both were perfect for one another. God’s gift to each other and God’s gift to us. Jen in the twirling snow stirs my heart with childlike wonder ❣️ The girls are Blessed by your fatherly guidance. We pray with you and join with you in this race. ❄️💞❤️

  17. Brad, you have such a warm heart and it comes through in your writing. You and Jen were such soul mates. Your love for each other and the girls continues to be strong. You are the best dad and we are so proud of you.♥️

  18. Suzanna /

    Beautiful. Reader friend from NC.