A day that will live in infamy. (in my family, anyway.)
It's my parents wedding anniversary, which means that without it, none of us would even BE.
It's also the day my sister went to heaven.
It was 4 years ago.
Sometimes is feels like she's been gone forever.
This week it has felt a bit like reliving the whole horror all over again.
I hope that will get easier to bear as the time passes...it's been 4 long years, after all, and I think basically everyone is ready for me to NOT be this version of myself on this day every year.
My memory is like a steel trap, (which isn't meant to sound boastful, as I am not the One who created the steel trap memory) and I can't shut off the replaying of that infamous week...when I heard and saw and experienced the deepest sobs I've ever known, when words to prepare my children for what was coming failed me, when shock and disbelief and terror paralyzed me...It all spins around inside me, step by step in order of events unable to be forgotten, until all I can do is remember, and cry again.
It isn't all bad memories. I mean, pretty much all the ones from this day and the days preceding it are bad, but last night, in an attempt to focus on a good memory, I was telling my kids this story:
Me: "Clay, you were only 6 years old when Aunt Joy died, so I know you don't remember this, but on this night 4 years ago I was sitting in the bed, and you asked me if Aunt Joy was better yet, and I told you that the doctors said she was probably not going to get better. You looked so confused, and I could see your little brain trying to figure out why she wasn't getting better, since you had prayed. And so I told you that sometimes God's plan is different than ours, and we don't have to understand it, but we can trust Him to do what is the best plan. And then you shut your eyes, and you prayed, "Dear Jesus, I really hope you let Aunt Joy live. But you do what you want to do, Lord. Amen." And then you went to bed, happy in your knowledge that God would take care of the best plan."
As I was telling him this story last night, tears leaked from my eyes and trailed down my face. He was listening, playing with my hair as he does every night, not speaking. So I said, softly, mostly to myself, "I wish He had had a different plan. I am not a big fan of this part of His plan."
And Clay said to me, "It's okay, Mom. Someday we will see how its for the best. I miss her too, but someday we will see how God did what was best."
*Ah, Lord, how many times will you speak to me through the mouths of my little ones? Thank You.*
This morning, with swollen eyes and a tired heart, I am thinking on the memories again. And I'm trying hard to think on the best ones, my favorites, things about my sister that are nearest to my heart, and bring with them a smile along with a pang of longing.
She was a bony little thing, and when I hugged her I was sure she would snap in half. But she always said "I'm tougher than I look." And she was.
She could sneeze louder than anyone else in the world, and she did. A lot.
She loved sour cream. I mean, her taco meat/sour cream ratio was a sight to behold, truly.
She had the most hilarious "You have got to be kidding me" face. When she was shocked by something I said or did, and she dropped that jaw and raised those eye brows...ah, I loved that face so much. I would go out of my way to do and say things, just to see her stare at me like that.
She had a very distinct way of worshiping. And she did it. A lot.
There are so many things that I loved/miss about her. But there is one thing I never really understood until she died. Not in the way I do now.
That girl was willing to do ANYTHING to advance the gospel. And she did it. Even with her death.
And so Clay's words to me last night are ringing inside me today, added to the collection of memories that I can't and don't want to forget.
"Someday we will see that it's the best, Mom."
We are seeing it already, I know that. The quake of her life and her death keeps echoing, and that is the most amazing comfort and blessing to our family.
HIS story is spreading because of her story, and her willingness to let Him write it exactly as he wanted, all for His glory, all for His fame.
There is a song that has been on the radio a lot lately. And every time it comes on I think "If Joy were alive, this would be her current favorite worship song."
Every word could have come out of her mouth.
Every line WAS walked out in her life.
Oh, the challenge that bony, sneezing, shocked-face little girl gives me every day.
I want to live like she did.
I want to lay down my life. And take up my cross. And surrender all to Him.
I'm challenging you. Joy is challenging you. Can you say it? Do you mean it? Will you live it?
Even if it means you live through pain you never think you'll survive?
Even if it means you will die?
"I lay down my life. I take up my cross, Jesus. For You are my God, whatever the cost. My heart it Yours. Take it all. My life in Your hands."
Listen to this song. Sing it. She would have. I want to be as brave as her. I want my kids to see that they can be brave for the gospel too.