Grandma Wendy, we’ll see you in heaven

Brian woke me up around 4:15am and told me that Riley’s Grandma Wendy had passed away.

I was pretty sure I was in the middle of a bad dream.

Kate Eschbach-10a

Brian said it beautifully on his Facebook Page:

Very sad news to share.

One of the most important people in our life, Grandma Wendy Kelley-Stuart, Riley’s biggest fan, passed away. We are in shock. She was young and always full of life and laughter.

Words, and even thoughts cannot express our love and gratitude for her. We were very much looking forward to the many years ahead with her.

I will just end with the greatest compliment I can give:

She loved. She truly loved- love beyond herself and her wants. She emptied herself. Through this love and sacrifice, Riley has come to us and changed our lives.

Requiescat in pace.

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Riley’s biggest fan. It’s true. You should see the pictures on her facebook page. She could get Riley to smile the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. When they were together, it was as if no one else was in the room. It was beautiful, silly, complete love. She shared her most treasured gift with us.

The very first time we met, she handed me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. She said that she had always been worried about dying because she wasn’t sure what would happen to Riley. Now that she had found Brian and I, she didn’t have to worry anymore.

At the time, I was taken aback by her words. I couldn’t understand why she would say that. Now, the weight of those words impress a beautiful burden of love onto my heart.

kate tape

“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.”
― Francis of Assisi

In November, I read a post that wrecked me. Do you know FlowerPatch Farmgirl? (Of course you do. She’s a rock-star.)

She wrote a post about contentment and I read it to Brian, out-loud, sobbing. Bless him, he’s pretty used to it and puts up with me, but the words hung with me for days.

These words rocked my core and inspired change: “I’m here running the aisles because I’m tired of sitting still. I’m spitting into the mic, crashing the cymbal, begging you to believe we were given this job, to find these people and love them straight to the cross. Let’s not be content with contentment. Let’s believe it’s our high honor to give a rip.

We can support them in meaningful ways and love them to the feet of Jesus. From there, the rest of the work is His. We can do this, friends. We can do the job we were given – a tangible job, nothing theoretical or hypothetical about it. We can actually do actual things for His kingdom here on earth. Today.”

I started out with a very vanilla relationship with Grandma Wendy. She threw her love at Brian and I so freely. I was always a little intimidated by how much Riley loved her. She also was a rock-star – meeting us for play-dates where and when it was convenient for me. She would watch Riley with his sweet Tia (his great-aunt, also a rock-star) when I had photo-shoots. But we had never invited her into our home.

I had kept the relationship at arms length because I was scared of some made up concerns about what it would look like if she was around a lot. Sure, there were bonding and attachment concerns at the beginning of Riley’s adoption, but it was time to put those behind us and make something beautiful. We were approaching a year and a half of him living with us and it was time to stop drawing boundaries around her love.

After I read the post to Brian, I told him I wanted to invite Grandma Wendy and Tia over for a Christmas with Riley before we went to Texas. We would spend the afternoon at church, for the kids Christmas concert, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies, and come back to our house. I’d make our famous Texas chili, cornbread, and banana pudding for dinner and we’d open presents.

It was a beautiful day. We sat around the fire outside on the porch and watched Riley play with his new toys. It couldn’t have gone any better. I was stretching my boundaries,letting go of contentment, and giving my made up comfort zone over to Him.

Friends, I am so, so, so thankful that I stepped out of my little circle of arms length love. Who are you holding love back from today? Please grab their shoulders and pull them in close. Be His light already, ok? We are not promised tomorrow. Love you all. We can do this. Do it for me. Do it for Grandma Wendy.

Wendy and Riley 10

My Riley Kenton » Kate Eschbach - […] else. I hope you feel like it is home. In the past year, we’ve walked a rocky path together. Grandma Wendy went to heaven. We met your first mom and hope to get to know her even better. We’ve held on tight to each […]

Courtney - This is beautiful it brought me to tears! We love you Wendy and think of you all the time! - Yes. Exactly. You said it perfectly. When I think about him not getting to play with her, I weep. Thank you, Ashley. - Thank you, dear Blair. - Thank you, Jenna. I appreciate that. - Thank YOU for your awesome light. You make a difference in my world. - Thank you, Tina. Love you. - Linda, Thank you so much for sharing that. She loved him so much. That is what I will miss the most – getting to see that love in person.

Linda - I was a former coworker of Wendy’s, I have silently been following your blog. She introduced me to it during a conversation that her and I had over facebook during the beginning of the adoption process. She loved that little boy more than life itself. I looked back over our conversations since her passing yesterday, in every single one of those conversations she mentioned Riley. God bless you and your family.

tinuviel - Oh, Katie, I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. What a gift that the Lord gave you all to open your heart to this Christmas celebration at just the perfect, providential time. So glad you said yes.

Too much loss lately, yes? Makes the heart so tender. Praying for you now.

Flower Patch Farmgirl - God gives us the best gifts.
I’m sorry for your loss, but thankful you stepped out. That has to bring some peace.

Jenna - im so sorry to hear this news. So very sorry. She sounds like such an amazing woman. Praying for comfort for you and your family.

Blair - Oh Kate! I am so sorry for your family’s loss. What a beautiful memory that you will have the rest of your life. Thank you for sharing that story and inspiring us all to step out of our comfort zones too. I will hold your family in prayer, especially Riley, in the coming days. May Grandma Wendy rest in the peace of Christ, and may the memories of her love and legacy live on in your family.

Ashley Whipple - I am just absolutely wrecked for your family and especially Riley. Having lost my father unexpectedly when he was also pretty young, my heart just broke for my children. I was hurting for me but the thought of telling them that they wouldn’t see Grandpa again on this earth was nearly too much to bear. May your family find peace and comfort. I am so glad that you had a wonderful Christmas with Grandma Wendy. I am sure that Grandma Wendy is so happy that Riley is with your family and that she didn’t have to worry about what might happen to Riley. My thoughts and prayers are with you.