Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Anniversary Hope

 Ten years.

Ten.

Years.

I've been sitting here pondering what to say on this, the 10th anniversary of my sister's death. But I've said a lot of things over the years, probably more than necessary. I've walked the process of grieving in a rather public way, and now that its a milestone anniversary...I feel as though I don't have new words to give it.

I want to. I always feel the weight of putting perfect words to the life, death, and story of my little sister. I don't have very many people in my immediate realm of days who ever even knew her. My children barely remember her at all. And so it feels like it falls to me to talk about her, so that they know.

In the first few months after Joy died, I met a gal in a Bible study group who had lost her brother. I gasped when she told me. "I'm so sorry. How long ago was it?" She smiled and said "It's been over 10 years now." I remember standing there, looking at her, and thinking, "There is hope. I will smile again someday. I will be able to breathe again. I can survive."

And so I have, by His mercy. Mom and I were chatting this weekend, and she said basically the same thing. "It's a miracle, but we have survived. By the mercy of God, we have survived."

There were plenty of days when I wasn't sure I would. When I didn't want to try. When the shattered pieces of everything I had ever felt certain of were slicing open my hands as I struggled to collect them. 

And I have talked about this before, about finding the Lord there, at the bottom, in the depth of deep agony. 

"I am with you," He whispered.

"I am with you. I am with you. I am with you."

Still, ten years later, when I am struggling, I can close my eyes and remember those words. Softly spoken words breathed into my heart, while I lay curdled in a ball on the floor with my arms wrapped around my head because I felt sure at any moment I was going to literally break apart.

He saved me that day, when I was drowning. He saved me over and over again. For ten years, He's come striding across the raging waves of pain, whenever I needed Him, and He's rescued me.

I won't retell all the ways. I've said them before.

How He gave me a vision of a hospital bed in Malaysia, and her in the room, and me hugging her and telling her I loved her, and how that was within hours of her death.

How He gave my little girl, my sweet 8-year-old daughter who was grieving so hard and so quiet, a vision of heaven, of Joy running down the hill to hug her, and telling her everything was okay..."She's so happy, Mom," were Faith's words to me when she told me about it. "It's so bright there, and Jesus is with her. They were walking on a hill, and Aunt Joy had her hair in a ponytail, and it was flying n the breeze when she ran down the hill to hug me. She smiled so big."

How He stood beside me and sustained me, and my family, while I wrote down the story, HIS story, of miracles and mercy, that made up the life of a skinny little girl from South Carolina who became a world changer. How He directed the steps that led to publishing that story. 

But, 

I think the biggest of miracles, the deepest mercy, is something I didn't expect until just now, and I was sitting here trying to give appropriate words to the occasion. 

There are words, phrases, truths, that resonate deep within me and from me, words that have always been true, but have also now been LIVED, and the depth of belief when I speak them and pray them and share them...somehow in those moments, I see that He has made a beautiful mosaic of His mercy through my shattered heart.


It is well...

Even if He doesn't...

Sovereign.

Death, where is your sting?

I believe you, God.

Heaven.


Eleven years ago, my husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary with a lovely getaway trip. 

We have made a big deal out of the 10th birthdays of all 4 of our kids. 

But I don't know how to commemorate this day. I've been asked several times what I wanted it to look like...and I don't know. It doesn't matter, I suppose. It's just another day in a long string of days missing her. So many more to come before heaven.


And oh, how I miss her. I miss her smile and her laugh and the way her ears turned red when I said something shocking. I miss the way my family was before we lost her suddenly: when the idea of not getting to sit with someone who was sick did NOT make all of us feel very triggered and nervous. When we didn't feel the weight of every goodbye being full of hugs and verbalized love, because it might be the last. When the possibility of losing someone didn't really feel like it could happen, but was more of a far off nightmare we didn't look too closely at. Those people were blissful. Those people are gone.

And in their place is a family with deeply etched scars. People who cry hard and long on this day every year. People who cling to each other in hospital waiting rooms, and say "I love you" more often, and swallow panic at the very real possibility of loss when it rears its head.

But we have learned to smile again. And we are aware, with a certainty that resonates in our very bones, of heaven, and mercy, and miracles, and sustaining power. We have lived them. We do live them, every day.

There's so much beauty to be found in Him today. SO much to be celebrated. So much to look forward to.

"All our burdens...all our pain...Jesus our healer...He has overcome."

"While I'm waiting...I'm not waiting...I know heaven lives in me..."

"Far be it from me to not believe...even when my eyes can't see..."

"With me in the calm...with me in the storm..."

"When night screams terrors...there Your voice will roar..."

"Take heart...let His love lead us through the night...hold onto hope...take courage again..."