Today we went to a funeral celebrating the life of her dad who was killed in a car accident early Easter morning as he came home from work. While her story is not mine to tell, I will say that knowing of her loss brought back not-so-distant memories of my three family members who died during my sophomore and junior years of high school.
First, my younger brother Kenneth. Kenneth always had a goofy, mischievous grin. He was an aspiring author/illustrator, and loved Herbie, Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles. My sister, Megan, and I also made him play Barbies with us...Kenneth was 10 when he drowned on New Years Eve while we were at a family reunion. I was a sophomore, a couple months shy of my 16th birthday.
Next, my adoring Grandma Helen. She was the one who taught me to crochet. Every time I start a new project, I think of her and wish I could show her how I can create more than chain stitches! She was also a great cook...she used to say she could feed an army. And that was true! I loved being able to go to her house after Sunday School for a snack, and then to the big meal with the rest of the family after services were over. I can still see the heaping pile of mashed potatoes...after many months fighting cancer, my grandma died during the summer between my sophomore and junior year at SVHS.
Finally, my Uncle Larry. I'd say out of all my family, I resemble him...a lot! Every summer, my cousin Lauren and I would hop in the huge John Deere combine and ride in circles around the wheat field. I loved those moments, and was always in awe of the multiple-machine operation! He was a great dad and a wonderful uncle! After battling brain cancer, he died during the spring of my junior year, and just weeks before Lauren graduated from high school.
I didn't write these things for sympathy. Yes, it was hard. No, I didn't handle things well. I was bitter and angry for a couple years, and even now, I find myself mourning my missing family. But, I now cling to the hope that I will see them again. As a child of God, I am promised eternal life!
Thankfully, God didn't let me go. He still loved me, even when I hated Him. His shoulders were (and are!) big. And God loves you, too! No matter where you are, what you've done, where you've been.
What a promise!