Sunday, April 16, 2017

Ten Years

I'm wearing my grey chucks in NYC on Easter weekend, you loved your chucks. This year Easter not-so-coincidentally collides on the same day as the tenth year reminder of the day we lost you and 31 others taken too early from this earth.

It is unbelievable yet believable at times that you have been with Jesus and all those fabulous peeps having a grand old feast for ten years now. I'm jealous in many ways and have frequently wished I could just join you all. I miss you all so much, now more than ever (which I didn't think possible).

Life has continued on, of course. It doesn't stop for death, no matter how much we want it to. We both would have been 28 right now, until you gained another year this summer. Maybe you know already (don't know how quickly news spreads up there), but I'm going to have a baby in a few months. I'm gonna be a mom, and that's pretty weird. I'm sure you would have been in a similar phase of life now, as everyone our age seems to be doing this too.

Your parents have continued to be such a loving, kind, precious part of my life. They're learning so much from Jesus, as you did, almost on a fast-track in your time here.

Life continues on after death. I have learned this too many times. The only good thing I have yet to see coming from any of these painful experiences of loss is helping others. Mourning with those who mourn, perhaps the most difficult empathy there is, especially when you are mourning as well.

This recent time in life (past 10 or so months) has dredged up many of the feelings that I thought I has worked through after your death. The first time I really questioned my faith and "God's plans" was through your death. I did not see God as a merciful God for a while, I had been ripped to shreds at the notion of you not being protected by Him that day. And the same feelings have come back this past year. It is so difficult to wrestle the notion of a loving God amidst your own immense pain and suffering, where you have a hard time seeing the hand of God in much because of your grief weight constantly pressing on you.

But I have seen resurrection life in your death, because I have seen one seed fall to produce much grain. I have witnessed first hand how love can multiply out of the agony of death. I keep this tucked away in my heart and mind, knowing I will see it again, even if it may take a while.

This past week I had another birthday. Another year. This apparently prompted one of my friends to share something with me they had never shared before. I had met them just before a trying time in their life where they lost one of their dearest friends tragically. I shared my grief with them through your story, and I gave them a copy of a book that had helped me see better. We continued our friendship, mostly online, but hung out various times as well. They shared with me something so precious about how my life has impacted theirs on my birthday. It is probably my favorite present this year. But it reminded me so much of you in what he said. And it gave me such hope, that even in my time of this second season of doubt through grief, if we just continue to love as we have been shown great love, that's truly all that matters. It doesn't matter how much we struggle, but we must love. We must empathize. We must mourn with those who mourn. We must step out of our own discomfort and into others' to love them fully, purposefully, and truly.

I continue look forward to what awaits us there with you all, I cannot wait for the grand reunion. In the meantime, I also look forward to seeing how the kingdom of God will be made manifest here on earth as it is in heaven.

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“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal." John 12:24 msg

Rachael Elizabeth Hill, my childhood best friend, and one of a handful of best examples of Christ's love that I have experienced in my time on earth.

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