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Somewhere between the photo on the left and the photo on the right, my heart was apprehended and transformed. My niece, Stacie has been a part of my life since birth, of course (I'm her favorite Aunt, by the way), but she has also been a big part of the atmosphere at Bridal Traditions for two decades. Recently, she moved on to her next chapter, and I had to say goodbye and set her free.
No one tells you that Memory Lane is actually more like a crowded boulevard of little vehicles that will transport you if you fixate on each one. If every car on this Lane is a moment, my Memory Lane with "Stace" is a traffic jam of some of my favorite moments from the last 20 years of owning and operating Bridal Traditions. This child hung out at the shop when she was just old enough to be dazzled by the gowns, the jewelry and the ideas of fashion and dress up. She helped in more practical ways when she was old enough to follow my lead, and as she got older she became.... annoying, hilarious, and beautifully invaluable.
Stacie tried on the prom gowns in her tweens and teens, and participated in the annual Wilkes County Christmas parade. She was our model, our jokester, our Young Opinionated Marketer. She was my child, and later when she became an adult - my friend, my coworker and my welcome distraction. Stacie pushed me, made me laugh hysterically, drove me crazy, and filled the air at BT with her special brand of magic. As sad as I am to see her go, I'm so unreasonably proud of her, I wouldn't change a thing, or trade one single moment.
While Stacie started working at Bridal Traditions as a fun little helper and sidekick when she was young, she became an employee for all four years of high school and one year of college. Ultimately, she decided to strike out, and head to Western Carolina to finish her undergrad degree and dive into pre-law. After two more years of college, she will head toward getting her Juris Doctorate in Business Law. You know the moment is going to come, but I was not ready. Her last few weeks felt like the long goodbye, but not the last goodbye. That said, we threw her a party and afterwards - all the way home - I cried my eyes out.
Stacie's style and passion these days is Western meets Southwestern. She loves turquoise, cowgirl boots, steers and bulls, and the wilds of the West. I have to say, it suits her. She is bright and untamed, but absolutely holds the reins. For her send off, I asked the brilliant bakers at Indulge Bakery to create sweet treats and they nailed it. Our team gave her going away presents and tried to give advice, but we mostly joked and tried not to cry.
This gorgeous and smart young woman will stay in my life, but she lives in my heart forever... my broken, proud, and grateful heart. I love you, Stace. There will never be a day when I won't be cheering for you in every thing you do. I miss you already, so you better go get 'em!