And the nights I felt the pain,
And the tears I had to cry,
Some of those times along the way.
Every road I had to take,
Every time my heart would break –
It was just something that I had to get through
To get me to you…”
Tomorrow it will have been four years since my sister, Anna, was taken to paradise to spend eternity with her precious Father and Savior. She was six years old and yet so grown up. I’ll never forget the giant smile she got on her face when momma would sit next to her, take her hand, and tell her about what a brave girl she was. Her eyes would light up as she told her that it was proven by the “battle scar” that lay across her chest—the last physical signs of the open heart surgery which had taken place when she was nine months old. (To read my family’s story in more detail, please follow this link.)
On the morning of November 19, 2004, the first thing I remember is my daddy’s voice. ”Abigail…wake up. Grandma and Grandpa are here.” I was too groggy to hear his soft voice catch in his throat as he spoke. I don’t remember getting up, but the next thing I knew, I was walking down the stairs. It struck me as odd that my grandparents were there since it was barely 7:00 a.m., but I ignored it. When I was about half way down the stairs, I could see my whole family sitting in the living room—my whole family except for one. I had an odd feeling, but I was sure all would be explained soon, so I sat down on the ottoman across the room from my parents.
Finally, after what seemed like several minutes of silence, my dad began “Last night Anna got sick…” With these words, my mind immediately drew the conclusion that she was in bed, sick with one of the migraines that she got occasionally. Almost as soon as I had set my mind at ease, deciding that I had gotten my answer, my dad’s voice continued, this time strained “…she got really sick—and this morning she went to be with Jesus.” My heart caught in my chest. What?! I was sure I had heard him wrong, but my doubts were soon proven vain by the stunned and pained expressions and stale tears I saw on the faces of the people I love.
Within moments I was in my momma’s arms, sobs filling my ears and my mind from all directions. So many times I had been in this very place—with my dearest momma’s arms around me, keeping me safe from the worries of the outside world—but this time it was different. I didn’t feel safe and secure, because this time I wasn’t just crying on her shoulder…she was crying on mine too.
The next several weeks were some of the hardest days of my life. My mind was constantly bringing sweet memories to the surface, but then reality would kick in and those memories would change from sweet to heart wrenching. I would never be able to braid her hair again…would I even remember what her wavy dark hair felt like in my hand? I wouldn’t ever hear her sweet voice asking if I could “pleeeeeeeeease” sleep in her room with her, just because she wanted me there.
At first, the pain seemed like it would never go away, but moment by moment it eased. My family would daily gather in the living room and share thoughts and emotions—sometimes our conversations would last for hours. Afterwards, we would kneel in a circle on the floor and join hands and each of us would spill our hearts to our always listening Father. Momma probably did this best verbally, but we all felt our true words in the deepest sanctums of our souls.
Now, four years later, my memories of Anna are still with me…I can still hear her laugh, I can still see her smile, I can still feel her hair…but the memories have changed from pain to nostalgic reminisce. What seemed to be the official unraveling of the beauty of life has bloomed into a creation so magnificent only God could have arranged it. Through it all, my Father was with me. I know it pained Him to see my family hurt, but in His will I can rest, knowing that whatever trials He sets before me, He knows just how to carry me through.
What does it feel like to look into Jesus’ eyes? Does it take your breath away the way it does mine when I try and picture it? How much stronger are His arms than what I’ve dreamt them to be? How much gentler is His touch then what I’ve tried to imagine?
Are you always singing? I can picture how beautiful your voice must be now…Jesus must love it when you sing for Him! Does it send shivers down your spine when He takes your hand and dances with you?
Anna, I want you to know how much I miss you. My sweet memories of you will never fade away. I can’t wait for the day when I can touch you again…when I can see you face to face.
I’m so proud of you, baby sister.
I love you…