I’m stepping aside from a blog about the ministry today. I feel pressed on all sides to share something personal. My suffering heart struggles to accept our cousin’s daughter smashed her car New Year’s Eve and lost her life. I don’t want to mention her name because I don’t want to draw more media attention. This is personal. The truth that Fox news was at her father’s door within hours of his learning of the tragedy, asking for her photo makes me ill. They wanted to publicize her fatality as the first of the year. It was more trauma for our family as they had to hear her name over and over on New Year’s Day. The choices of the media mostly disgust me.
She was a nursing student and she was living with our dear and beloved Aunt Mary Lou and Uncle Mike. When I was a young mom pregnant with our senior Jordan we moved close to their home. They included us in their family and we participated in every holiday with them. Our children all played together, swam in the pool, and searched for easter eggs. We announced pregnancies with great joy to one another, and celebrated births of our babies. Donny grew up with “her”.
She loved children and wanted to be a nurse to help people. She was beautiful, feisty, smart, and loving. And now she’s gone. We drove up to Fort Worth on Saturday to be with family for the day. It was good to sit and talk about the happy memories we have of her. I sat in her room and thought about the young woman she was and imagined her using the perfume, selecting the shoes, and swiping mascara in the mirror. She didn’t know when she left for that party that she wouldn’t return.
She will be buried today. I hope my children bury me first. I sobbed in church yesterday during a worship song because as I sang how great and mighty our God is I knew I had to answer the hard question. Would I still say he’s great and mighty if it were my child going into the ground today? I can answer yes God is enough for me. But. He wouldn’t like the But. Maybe the word is even so, I’d collapse and feel like noodles for along time. I’m sure the strength would be there for the public parts but inside me where I live I’d need resuscitating often.
I’ve never been to a funeral. I’ve never lost some one very dear to my heart. All that I am learning here is new. I was relieved everyone spoke freely about her as we gathered. We laughed about the silly things she did, we shined over her talents and gifts. She had a stunning smile. We laughed, cried, and asked God to show us what good can come from this.
What I can see is there were once severed relationships that are joining in love and honor again. My first response was to make sure in my difficult relationships that the love I have is securely shared. Problems are temporary but love is everlasting. Tell them I love you. Make sure they know. My husband was deeply broken all week long as we grapple with the reality of losing one the age of our oldest child. He put himself in the shoes of her father. He was mostly rattled by the thought, “what if the last word someone heard from me was a harsh word?” Her passing so young can influence how we live the rest of our lives. I challenged our boys with this idea. I made them look at the accident scene. I begged them to read the book of proverbs all their lives and ask God for wisdom as they make decisions in their lives. I asked them to make sure the ones they love know they are loved. Jack with his tender heart knew sometimes he is a scorch with Jordan and Kevin. While washing dishes he wiped tears and hugged them each tightly and told them, “I love you.”
Jack baked some chocolate chip cookies for Uncle Mike and Aunt Mary Lou and he wrote them a card for us to bring with us. In the card he wrote, “Please don’t worry about her she is talking to Jesus as you read this.” If it is possible to smile and cry at the same time, then that’s what we did.
I didn’t share this story to put a cloud on your winter Monday. I hope to lift all of our eyes up and make sure of a few important things in life while we have it. Am I sure I’m going to heaven when it’s my turn? Do the people in my life know I love them? Am I using my life to make others better? This young girl, her life mattered, and her death has brought the family together again. She would have wanted that.
The last thing as I begin a new year, a new week, a new day is that I am feeling the real weight of how precious a day is when we receive it. We have today. I’m aiming to use it for good. I’m going to tell them I love you.