It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve been out of sorts and under the weather. Not really at the same time, but it’s definitely been cramping my writing hand. Tonight I’m compelled to write, or at least the meds have worn off enough that I think I can construct a cohesive thought.
Two things are riding on the waves of my thoughts tonight: the anniversary of death of a beloved friend and sister in Christ… and, the stark reality that as much as I didn’t want it to, life has gone on.
It was 9 years ago, today which seems almost impossible. I got the call that she was in serious condition at the hospital and that she wasn’t going to make it. But, what the person who informed me didn’t know is that I already sensed something was seriously wrong. I woke up that morning feeling less. I don’t know how else to describe it. Sure, I’m prone to depression and I was the mother of a five month old, but try as I could, I wasn’t sure what exactly was wrong…only that some light had left my life. The day was black and white…even now reliving it, I was in slow motion. My sister came to my side, and she coaxed me, and offered to keep my baby if I wanted to go to the hospital.
I called to talk to her brother, tell him that I was praying for them, that I love her. I told him I wanted to go and be there and just be…there. Of course I was welcome, but I couldn’t, and I HATE that. I was in a daze the rest of the morning….unfeeling, unseeing, unaffected. I feel like I lost a precious day with my baby…maybe I missed a laugh, or a cry, or a look that I could never have back. But try as I did, to concentrate on her…all I could think about was Aimee. That smile, her laugh, those tears that we cried.
A few days later, I went to her funeral. I listened as one by one they got up to share what Aimee had meant to them. I was in a daze..you mean, I wasn’t the only one? I wasn’t the only soul that was touched and felt special at the gaze of one so wonderful? No. I was one of MANY. And then, at the end of the service we had a worship service…a worship service of praise, offering thanks for a life that was so beautiful. But if the words we were singing were “Amazing Love how can it be that you, my King, would die for me?” My heart was echoing, “Amazing Love, how can it be that you my King would take her away?” My soul was begging, “Amazing Love, how can it be that she has died? Amazing Love, this is not amazing. This is a tragedy!” And tears covered my cheeks and the salt sat on my upper lip, and I tried to make sense of our loss.
I remember lowering my arms. No one would think anything of it. I lowered my arms during a praise song, what’s the big deal? It’s not like I’m Moses and if I lower my arms the praises will cease. But God knew what I was really saying. I was saying, “Nope. Not now. I will not praise you.” I was hurting. I wasn’t in the mood for praise. That’s not a very welcome admission. I can hear the cries of, “But you must praise Him in the storm! You’re faith was too small! Your heart was hardened!” NO. My heart was broken…and my Daddy knew this.
Months went by…my baby became a toddler. Her coos became words. Her crawl became steps. And, I was forgetting. This bothered me to no end. How could I forget? How could I pretend that life goes on? How can I imagine that all is well when Aimee’s parents still grieve and miss and bear the heartache of her death everyday? It didn’t seem fair.
A year went by…then two and another baby…and still…there was a part of me that was bitter about her death. “But, Leslie, did you hear about the way she led her birth mom to accept Christ? Did you hear the many that testified about what her life had meant? Did you understand that she fulfilled her purpose?” No. No, I didn’t. Because when I sat in that funeral there was only one thing going through my heart, “Aimee is gone.” And it was hard to hear testimony after testimony about the power and beauty of Christ in her life, because…well, because there was no one to fill those shoes! It’s like calling off the player that’s scoring the most points…what’s the sense in that?
Years went by. My girls were growing up and as I watched I marveled at the heart of my oldest. The way she was so sensitive to Christ, her deep love for Him at such a tender age, and I thought, “There’s my Aimee.” I’d smile and pull her on my lap and tell her about a sweet friend that had blessed her in my tummy…and, what a moment of blessing that had been. As I retold the story, I’d picture her large slender hands encircling my belly and the sound of her lips moving, and I’d smile…her words had imparted strength and love and divine appointment for my child. I believe this.
More years. And I find myself, upset, depressed, disappointed. That particular summer, I had gone to help with a youth camp because after all that’s where my heart was. I poured myself out and into them until I had nothing left to give. Fulfilling the role of “got it all together counselor” when inside I was falling apart. No one knew. And I wasn’t about to disappoint everyone by telling them. But, Daddy knew. And He had a plan.
Abigail Handy Berry.
She brought back my sunshine that I lost that black and white day in October, and it was all because my Aimee was sunshine for her. Once a precious young girl, convinced that the rest of her days would be filled with pain…now a beautiful, promising woman of God who convinced me that God can make tragedy good.
Yes. It is amazing. Amazing Love that gives and takes away. Amazing Love that lingers and sustains. Amazing Love that will just as surely take a fist as outstretched hand. Amazing Love that is faithful to see you through the pain just to bring you light again. That’s the amazing love of God.
And yes, those shoes of Aimee’s were big…but that just gives us more work to do…and Abbi and I, together and apart, are going to do our part so that the legacy and life of Aimee lives on. I can raise my hands in praise again…Because I know…the One that waits with a twinkle in His eye for the day He pulls her out from behind His back. That awesome day when Abbi and I will wrap our arms around her and get to kiss her sweet face again…He knows we miss her, and we know she lives.