#3 Go to Graceland

Sarah enjoyed a wide variety of music. Within a short period of time she could quickly shift from singing songs by the Jackson 5, to historic hymns, to Disney Princess theme songs, to modern pop. I don’t recall Elvis ever being strongly represented, though, which makes me think perhaps her desire to go to Graceland was more rooted in seeing him in old movies than in love for his music. But whatever her reason for choosing it, going to Graceland was listed high so we were excited to check it off for her.

In honor of Sarah’s birthday this year Sarah’s sisters and their guys, and Scott and I all went to Memphis for the weekend to tour Graceland. Most of us knew very little beyond the basic facts about Elvis, and even less about Graceland.

I kept thinking about the name “Graceland” as we were traveling and hoping we would learn some moving story behind the name. Perhaps how the beauty of the land served as a place reminding him of God’s grace on his life or something like that. But as it turns out it was actually named Graceland by the original owners, after the wife’s aunt Grace.

We learned some interesting facts but mostly just enjoyed our time together, which Sarah would have loved as well.

We’re rounding out Sarah’s birthday weekend by spending her actual birthday decorating Christmas cookies, one of her favorite traditions, and watching the Hallmark movie “Christmas in Graceland” together.

All these things are bittersweet. We delight in remembering her together but our hearts all ache with longing for her presence.

Graceland wasn’t named in remembrance of God’s grace, but I’ve found myself continually reminded of God’s grace all weekend none the less.

The ache in my heart continually reminds me of how He has faithfully carried our family thus far and will continue to carry us day by day. And how that same grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, will one day carry each of us Home for a glorious reunion day “in just a little while.” (Hebrews 10:37)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. … For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:14, 16 [ESV]

#21 Be maid of honor at my best friend’s wedding

Of all Sarah’s bucket list items, this was hardest for me to read. Sarah and her sisters always talked about being in each others’ weddings. In fact the very night before she died, we went on a walk as a family and their weddings were discussed in depth. The idea of one of them not being present never entered any of their or our minds.

Since Sarah’s death two of her sisters have married without her and the pain of her absence there, as always, was indescribable. The instant I saw this bucket list item in writing I wept. Impossible. We can’t do this one for her, and it’s heartbreaking.

Less than a week after rediscovering Sarah’s bucket list I had lunch with a dear friend whose daughter recently became engaged to be married. Neither she nor her daughter knew anything about Sarah’s bucket list. As soon as we sat down together she almost immediately began telling me how wedding planning was bittersweet because her daughter had wanted Sarah to be her maid of honor and was so grieved she could not be there. Her words were like a balm to my heart.

Knowing Sarah’s precious friend had wanted Sarah as her maid of honor was treasure enough, but not long after she blessed us even more. She dropped by for a visit on November 21st, 2021, bearing a special gift for Sarah, at least in part fulfilling bucket list item #21.