Many thanks for the sympathetic comments and emails sent through the last week, they were heard and taken to heart. What a whirl wind it has been indeed; I don't really know where to start.
Calling Brittany with the news of our friend's tragic and unexpected passing was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, and looking back, Im a little embarrassed that I told her over the phone. I had no other choice, I was in shock, and felt that she needed to know as quickly as possible.
With in an hour we both gathered up our things, not sure how long we would be gone, but needing to leave none the less. We drove in bouts of sobs and silence, scattered with attempts at small talk as if we were strangers. We were both so deeply diving into ourselves for a sense of preservation, to keep it together for the drive. Poor Julian was almost silent the whole drive, not understanding why Momma was crying and why we left in such a hurry. It felt like we drove 500 miles in an hour, even though it was more like 6 or 7. What do you say in times like this, nothing. Nothing can really be said.
The visitation was indescribable. I had prepared myself for a viewing, hoping to see her for the last time, but instead I was surrounded by thousands of photos of her life, from her birth to the few days before the accident. Most of the photos I had never seen before, treasured family photos that are usually reserved for first dates, graduation parties and scrapbooks. Some were familiar, and a few made me laugh out loud between the tears. All of her favorite albums were being played on shuffle, bringing back a flood of memories, one particularly, was when she drove almost two hours to pick me up from somewhere I should have never been in first place, in the middle of the night. I called her in distress and she left as soon as we hung up. No one had done something like that for me before, but she was just that kind of person, and Im sure I'm not the only one she has done that for. We listened to anathallo and mewithoutyou with the windows down that night, and here I was, hearing those same songs again.
I had met her brother once before, but not the other family members. Meeting her mother for the first time was gut wrenching, all I could do was tell her how much her daughter impacted me, inspired me and encouraged me in the faith, and thank her for raising Sarah to be that way. I also met the man she had recently started seeing, and told him how happy he made her, that I could tell in the photos I saw of them together. Her best friend flew in from Ireland, and we hadn't met yet either. We recognized each other right away and didn't need to say much, there was an instant bond knowing that we both loved her, and were loved by her.
The memorial was a beautiful service, we heard stories and were reminded, celebrated the life that she lived, and all that she had done to inspire us in so many different ways. There was a sermon, truth was spoken and some saught Jesus for the first time in their lives, asked to know Him. This was the truest testament of God's grace and light that shone through Sarah while she was here with us, radiating through even her passing. My heart sang quietly within myself, "O death, where is your victory?".
"You do not have a soul. You are a soul, and you have a body"
I usually don't get to deep into my faith in this space, such intimacy is reserved for the ones closest to me, but I truly believe that this is a time such talk is appropriate and needed. While my heart is broken in mourning, I have hope and peace knowing that Sarah is where she was made to be, in unveiled communion with God. The sting of her physical death is soothed by the truth, the truth that I although I do not see her now, in a little while, I will see her again. I know that death has no power over her, or me, through the redemption of Jesus. Her soul lives on indeed, and in the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds she lives on as well, still influencing us in the truth through her actions and love. She won't ever really be gone from us.
It still hurts. I still get that punch to the gut and knot in the throat while doing the dishes, and thinking of her. I miss her dearly, and will continue to miss her, and that is ok. It is alright to miss a friend while they are away, but in reality, she is the one who is home.
The drive home was almost as surreal as the drive there. Sarah cherished fall, it was her favorite season, just like it is mine. It seemed that just over the few days we were in Michigan the trees had decided it was time to change, and the flowers put forth the last good effort before the cold sets in. I had mentioned to Brittany that I had never noticed the dusty purple shades among the rich reds and yellows of fall before, as we passed fields of wild flowers, and she agreed that she had never noticed either. Being forced to slow down and be thankful for the love and beauty around you lets you see those things. That is something that Sarah was constantly communicating in her photos. From now on, this color will remind me of her, and thank God for the chance to know her, and see her again.
Thank you again, for all of your prayers, and I ask that you continue to pray for her family and those who love her.
Thanks for reading,