i step out of the cottage, and i am struck by the difference a few days can make - green grass is starting to peek out, birds sing their strange songs out into the open air, insects hum and murmur along the earth,  and flowers spread their petals like wings towards the sky.

when did it become like this? i can’t fathom. i used to always run outside the second chores were done. grandmother would see me peeking at her over the edge of her loom, and she would smile and nod.

“yes, anchanya.” i can hear her voice now, low and gravelly, from deep in her throat. “you may go outside now.”

i would run barefoot along these paths, climb those trees over yonder, and splash through the creek that runs through the forest. the tall goliaths of maples and hickorys and aspens were my friends as i bounded along the wood’s secret paths, made by deer and other animals in the deep of the summer. i would be alone, yet not alone. for out here, how could i not see God’s fingertips on everything?

“anchanya,” my grandmother would say, “bless the Good Lord for this day, for He has created everything, that includes you.”

i would always repeat those words in my head as i ran through these forests, and i would yell out everything i was happy for, though it seemed little and strange. and no doubt if anyone had heard me, they would have thought that there was a reason i was out in the forest by myself. but i didn’t care.

“Lord,” i’d shout with all of my lung power, legs pounding down the path and arms opened wide like i was giving the sunshine a hug, “thank you for grandmother’s pies!”

“thank you for the rain!”
“thank you for those interesting beetles!”
“thank you for our house!”
“thank you for the sunshine!”
“thank for for my hair!”
“thank you for the grass, and the flowers, and for chicken, and that i can see and have eyes, and that we have enough food on the table, and that that dog came and visited us yesterday, and that you got us safe home, and for the stars, and the moon...”

i hear the sound of a horse’s whinny, and it brings me back to the moment like a sharp jab. it’s been too long since i’d been home. too long since i’d visited this cottage with its memories, good and bad. too long since i’d run through the forest, thanking God for any and everything. i sucked in my breath, glancing over my shoulder. standing here, like this, i could almost imagine her - my grandmother. i could imagine her coming out, wiping her hands on her apron and giving me a disapproving look.

“anchanya!” she’d yell. “get out of that mud! you’ll make a mess when you want to come inside!”

or she’d brush her straight gray hair that fallen out of her braid behind her ear and yell,

“anchanya! it’s time for supper! come and wash up!”

or maybe...

“anchanya! i’m heading off to the market, be good!”

i could almost imagine her coming out again, looking at me, wiping her hands on her apron yet again and questioning me,

“anchanya, why the sad face? you have tears in your eyes. what’s wrong?”

my mouth was open as if to speak, as if she was really there. my lips trembled as tears formed in my eyes, blurring my vision. i looked up, looked to where she should’ve been standing.

“it’s... it’s you,” i whispered.

i wiped my eyes and headed into the house. it was bare now - the table with the two rickety wooden chairs was gone, and so was the bed in the corner with the homemade quilt. the fireplace was cold, and the ashes that used to always be there had drifted away onto the floor. the shelves were mostly broken, lying on the floor in heaps of wood and nails, sticking out like swords. rotting had taken hold, and several holes were already in the walls. they matched the ones in the ceiling. i stood there, staring at the empty places that i knew so well. that’s where grandmother’s loom had stood - there, there in the corner.

i closed my eyes, and i could almost hear it going, grandmother’s soft hum accompanying it. she was humming “come thou fount of every blessing” - that was her favorite song, and mine, too. we’d spent many a night singing it together, sometimes doing a chore, sometimes doing nothing at all but enjoying each other and, more importantly, enjoying the time praising God.

“anchanya, wherever you go, whatever you become, always remember Who created you. always remember the One who makes the stars shine and the moon glow. always remember, anchanya. always remember.”

my eyes flipped open, and it was gone - there was no loom, no humming, and, more importantly, no grandmother.

“you need to keep moving, anchanya.” there was she was again, her soft voice flooding me. “you need to move on with your life. if you always follow Christ to the end of your days, you will see me again. know that when i die? i will be in paradise. rejoice that i am with the Lord for forever! do not be sorrowful when i leave - rejoice! for though i have died, i have life. God has an amazing adventure set out before you. live for Jesus, anchanya. live for Jesus.”

i turned and left the cottage.

my grandmother had died, several years ago. i hadn’t been here - i was halfway across the world, stranded, with no way to get back to her, to say anything to her, before she left. she would have been dead even by the time i got the letter. but my grandmother... my grandmother would not want me to beat myself up. my grandmother would not want me to stay stuck in the past.

“live for Jesus, anchanya. live for Jesus.”

i was going to live for Jesus.

i glanced over my shoulder back at the cottage, and smiled.

“goodbye, grandmother.”

then i turned, kicked off my boots, threw off my cloak, and raced through the forest. i found the old beaten path i used to follow, threw my hands back like i was hugging the sunlight, and yelled,

“thank you, Lord, for life!”


this life is not the end - just the beginning.


  1. wow. i think this is my favorite thing you have written so far, it is absolutely breathtaking. <3

  2. ohmyword. this...this was perfection to the max. Loved it <3

  3. This is SO beautiful. You are a wonderful storyteller :) <3


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