This is my last blog on Above The Storm. The intensity of the storm has passed and though it has left an empty place at our table and our hearts tender to the touch, we have all come away from this season forever changed in many ways. Though I can't ever say I'm grateful to be without my daughter, I can truly say I'm grateful for the changes that have happened through this intensely painful experience.
For most of us, the family unit, in whatever shape or form yours looks like, is our world. Everything else permeates from that world. So, when you lose a piece of that world, you find yourself very vulnerable and rethinking everything you once took for granted. Sometimes, that is a very good thing.
After this storm, I can tell you now what remains.
1) Faith. God is who He says He is and will do much more than you could ever think, hope or imagine. In the darkest moments of your darkest days and darkest thoughts, He will be there. He is a safe place to land, the rock to hide behind, the ultimate shoulder to cry on, the grace that will carry you to the other side.
2) Love. It looks a little different to me now. It is wrapped in much more acceptance of other's weaknesses, differences and perspectives. My love holds much less judgment or critiquing than ever before.
3) A sense of mortality. We are only here for a brief time and I don't want to squander any more of it. Life is too short to keep accounts, waste time or stay in unfruitful places. It is also too short to not enjoy some of it! And death holds no mystery for me. If anything, I can be to quick to think about someone who is suffering, "Just let go, it looks mighty nice on the other side." Although I do understand, in all seriousness, that it is very difficult to leave people behind, especially mamas with children. But, truly, death has no sting for those who are of the household of faith. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord...doesn't that sound wonderful? And to be reunited with my Jessica is an event I can only dream about.
4) Compassion. There is something about losing a child that leaves your heart forever broken, just a little. I am quicker to cry when others hurt, more passionate about injustice, especially involving children, more determined in my prayers to see the miracle for others that we didn't get and more understanding of people's actions who are in crisis.
5) Determined. And finally, there is a new strength and sense of purpose. When you combine all of the above, it is reasonable that we would want to move forward into a lifestyle that involves reaching the world around us, bringing hope and love to the hurting and lost.
And as for our family, we have found that "new normal" people always talk about. I worried that our memories of Jess would fade, but those memories, her laugh, her beauty are never forgotten. She is part of our life still. She invested a lot of herself into her siblings and I see her imprint on them every single day. That is quite to gift to us, I would say.
I think about what she would want and I know that moving forward would be on the top of her list. I would hope that she'd be proud of how we've persevered, even when it would've been easier to just give up and go back to bed. I know she'd have an extra hug for Kayla who's stepped into the big sister role that she was worried about leaving. She'd encourage Alex to continue growing in her faith and be patient in everything else. She'd tell Jordan to be a good "little man" and for Joy to keep up on her piano and to look out for Toby.
For Mark and I, she probably knows we still cry and probably always will when we it hits us, but I know her words would be, "it won't be long now, Mama. I'll see you soon, Daddy!" And that helps keep us going.
I am reminded of the scripture verse often said about Keith Green, whose life continued touching people long after his death and still does, John 12:24. "Truly, I tell all of you with certainty, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces a lot of grain." Our daughter's life and death has produced much fruit and will continue to do so as long as all of us who were somehow touched by her, continue on in the faith and love that she so beautifully demonstrated. For us, that is the plan!
Thanks for reading. I am starting a new blog on Wordpress in the next month or so on topics relevant to the Christian faith. If you're interested in following, shoot me a note on Facebook.