Your Wings Were Ready But Our Hearts Were Not

Your Wings Were Ready But Our Hearts Were Not

In memory of Russell Bittle
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It's hard to imagine life now that you're gone. It's hard to accept the reality. I don't want to accept it. I refuse. It feels like you're still here. I feel like I'm going to wake up one morning and hear the caller ID on the phone say your name. I just can't believe it.

It all started a year ago. My uncle Russ was diagnosed with cancer. The news broke the hearts of the family, but we knew we had to be strong for him. It was hard to accept the reality. It still is.

Uncle Russ, we miss you. We miss you more than you would ever know. We love you.

You are not in pain anymore, and that gives me peace. I know when you got to heaven, you got to see our loved ones who've gone on before. I'm sure the first ones to greet you as soon as you entered heaven was Grandpa and Grammama Stephens, Grandpa and Grandma Bittle, and sweet Destinee.

We know that you will keep a watch over us and protect us.

It seems like yesterday the whole family was at granny and papa's celebrating our upcoming birthday after Thanksgiving dinner. Those memories will live on but the future will never be the same without you.

I'm not looking forward to our birthday anymore because I know I won't get to call you. If I had a way to call heaven, I would call every day just to hear your voice again.

This just doesn't seem real. It feels like an illusion. It feels like a nightmare you can't wake up from.

It's impossible to move on.

Your wings were ready but our hearts were not.

In loving memory of Russell Bittle.

November 29, 1959, to May 20, 2018

A loving husband, father, son, brother and uncle.

Fly high.

We will meet again one day.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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When You Make A Girl An Aunt, You Change Her World In All The Best Ways

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the happiest girl in the world.

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My brother and his wife recently blessed our family with the sweetest bundle of joy on planet earth. OK, I may be a little bias but I believe it to be completely true. I have never been baby crazy, but this sweet-cheeked angel is the only exception. I am at an age where I do not want children yet, but being able to love on my nephew like he is my own is so satisfying.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her a very protective person.

From making sure the car seat is strapped in properly before every trip, to watching baby boy breathe while he sleeps, you'll never meet someone, besides mommy and daddy of course, who is more concerned with the safety of that little person than me.

When you make a girl an aunt, you give her a miniature best friend.

There is something about an aunt that is so fun. An aunt is a person you go to when you think you're in trouble or when you want something mom and dad said you couldn't have. An aunt is someone who takes you to get ice cream and play in the park to cool down after having a temper tantrum. I can't wait to be the one he runs to.

When you make a girl an aunt, she gets to skip on the difficulty of disciplining.

Being an aunt means you get to be fun. Not to say I wouldn't correct my nephew if he were behaving poorly, but for the most part, I get to giggle and play and leave the hard stuff for my brother.

When you make a girl an aunt, you give her the best listening ears.

As of right now I only listen to the sweet coos and hungry cries but I am fully prepared to listen to all the problems in his life in the future.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the best advice giver.

By the time my nephew needs advice, hopefully, I will have all of my life lessons perfected into relatable stories.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her a number-one fan

Anything you do in life sweet boy, I will be cheering you on. I already know you are going to do great things.

When you make a girl an aunt, she learns what true love is.

The love I have for my nephew is so pure. Its the love that is just there. I don't have to choose to show love every day, I don't have to forgive, I don't have to worry if it is reciprocated, it is just there.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the happiest person in the world.

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You Don't Have To Be Born Into The Family You're Meant To Be With

Water will always be thicker than blood.

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According to Merriam-Webster, the primary definition of a family is "the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children", meaning to be a family, you must be related to others by blood. I used to run by this ideal up until high school took over my life with full force, but, as my friend told me one night in middle of our conversation, you can't get through life without friends.

You can't walk a pathway full of obstacles on your own and expect to come out of the other side unscathed, especially mentally. You can't see yourself face-to-face with your worst enemies and conquer your worst fears just by boosting your own confidence (unless you have an amazing capability of keeping your self-esteem afloat just by yourself).

In essence, life is meant for you to be born into a group of people and take on the world as if there's no one else you're meant to live with. To live is to survive with spirit, and friends are the bridge to the emotional freedom that blood-related family can't always bring.

And there's no reason to realize only if you have a large group of friends or if your family isn't as supportive as friends. It's something you come to realize with experience, and you won't know it's true until you find yourself sitting at a lunch table laughing so hard with these completely random people until you can't breathe.

It amazes me when I'm thinking late at night about how I came to meet my best friends that there was a completely randomized set of events that happened to end with two different people sharing common interests. Who would've thought that in a sea of seven billion people (that keeps changing every second), I'd be able to find myself identifying my extended family as a girl who loves reading, one who loves fashion, another who loves pull all-nighters to watch Netflix, and so many other people around me, too.

It's a diverse group of people that I identify as my family outside of home, and I know that college being just around the corner is going to change my life. But that just means my family keeps growing. You don't have to be related to someone to call them family. My friends and I openly consider ourselves to be sisters, and it's going to stay that way as long as we stay together.

One thing I can agree with in the true definition of "family", though, is that no external force can break apart a bond. And if there's something that happens to break us away from one another, we weren't meant to be family in the first place. It's a constant cycle throughout life of figuring out where you belong, but you'll eventually come to understand who you were meant to be stuck with.

There's a sense of thankfulness that comes after the realization that you've found people you can completely be yourself with. They'll forgive, they'll share, they'll love, and they'll do anything to make sure that you know that you're one of the pack.

Just a few days ago at a party, we were all glued to the TV screen while playing "Bandersnatch", and everyone seemed so invested. It was comical to see their reactions to scenes that I had already seen months before, and because the movie was an interactive game, when they made the wrong decision or when I accidentally spoiled the next scene, they would yell (out of playful spirit). It was exactly like a family, and though I wasn't the closest of friends with a few people there, it was nice to see that everyone was bonding over the movie.

It's the smallest of moments when you make the largest of discoveries, and over the past three years, I've found out that there's not much difference between family and true friendship. Friends will unconditionally love and support you just as your blood relatives might, but the only big difference that I can immediately think of is that the people in your life will show you love in different ways based on how they know how to show it.

And that's what makes you love them all the more.

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