11.18.2008

Anna Gabrielle



“And I don’t regret the rain,
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…”
As sung by Lila McCann,
"To Get Me To You"
(Hope Floats Soundtrack)




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.

Dearest Anna,
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…

32 comments. :

Jill said...

Dear Sweet Abigail,

What a beautiful post and tribute to Anna. What a beautiful love letter to Jesus!

Praying for you and your family as you embrace tomorrow and all it has to give...knowing our heavenly Father will be right there to carry you all through!

So blessed and touched to be allowed into the window of your heart and soul!

I love you all - Mrs. Samter

lambechops said...

What a wonderful post. Your mum is so proud of you, I know it just from reading her words. You have an amazing gift for words, and I was crying as I read. Thank you.

Jamimania said...

Abigail, thank you for sharing today about Anna - you have a real gift for writing and this was absolutely beautiful. I too will never be able to forget Anna's beautiful smile and her sweet voice. She was just so precious, a true gift from God to so many people. I know that your family has had so many trials but I can see from your writing that God has used that to make you stronger, just as he promises. I find it interesting that I just read about trials this morning in James 1 - how we should "consider it pure joy when we face trials of all kinds, because the testing of our faith develops perseverence and perseverence must have its perfect work so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. " I love God's promises. Not lacking anything sounds pretty good. :) You are wise beyond your years, Abigail. I know you make your parents proud. Pleae know that you will be be in our thoughts and prayers tomorrow as you remember precious Anna. Love and Hugs ~ Jami

Anonymous said...

Abigail,

Those words can only come from one who has been through what you've been through in the arms of our loving Heavenly Father! Those are powerful, sweet words! You should be honored, you may have a gift bestowed on you for putting into words what other's feel but can't put it on paper. . .

Dwight Witherington

Michelle Bentham said...

Abigail,

We have not yet met, but your beautifully bittersweet story just grabs at my soul.

My son, Justin, also is at home with the Lord. He was older than your Anna, he went home at age 17 years, but he is there just the same.

I too remember the sobs of death and the scorching reality of never hearing a laugh or seeing a smile again this side of the heavenly veil. God has a great plan for you Abigail and I believe you are already beginning to find His answers and His promise in your suffering. May God bless you richly.

I'll be praying for you.

Blessings.

Patricia said...

Oh Abigail, you are your momma's daughter! Your words reflect the beautiful spirit that she has passed to you. What joy your family must feel when they look at you.

Your description of Anna is absolutely lovely. She was as blessed to have you as her big sister as you were to have her as your little sister during her short, beautiful earthly life.

I hope I get a glimpse of your ongoing family reunion when we all get to heaven.

Thank you for making my day sweeter with your words and your heart.

micey said...

Thank you for sharing your story. <3

Laurie Ann said...

Oh, Abigail! Anna's story was so beautifully written and I wanted to thank you for sharing the joy of the comfort of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the pain. I cannot wait to meet your sweet sister in Heaven!

Betsy Markman said...

You are a truly gifted writer. Thank you for using your gift in a way that glorifies Him.

MiPa said...

What a beautiful post. Bless you for sharing your heart and your memories.

Karen said...

Jesus definitely knows how to carry us through. That is a wonderful statement and truth to go with your sad yet encouraging story.

Michele Williams said...

What a beautiful post and tribute to your sister! Your writing touched my heart and blessed my soul. Thank you for sharing this most painful time in your family's life. Bless you dear

:: jamie :: said...

Beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your heart. I'd love for you to visit my friend Nita's blog sometime. She's new to the blog world, and lost her youngest son this past January. Her older kids have had a rough time with it, too. I'm guessing that you could be a real blessing to her. Her blog is Live Hard, Love Hard.

(On a lighter note, your blog design is very cool!)

Ava Semerau said...

What strong, brave and faith-filled words, Abigail - thanks for sharing them.
AVA

Denise said...

Such a beautiful, heart felt tribute to your dear sister. Be blessed precious one.

Mrs de Miranda said...

Are you sure you are only 15????

Thank you so much! That was sooo beautiful! Thank you for sharing that story and that letter!!

And thank you for stopping by my blog!!

Tanya said...

Simply beautiful!

Esthermay said...

What a lovely tribute - from a beautiful young woman. Your heart for Jesus and your talent to express are clear.
God Bless you and all of your precious family!
~esthermay

Tami said...

Abigail, thank you for sharing your thoughts about Anna. Your post was filled with beauty, and truly touched my heart. I'll be praying for you and your family tomorrow, that your memories of Anna will be full of sweetness rather than sorrow.

Love in Him,
Tami Caiazza

Lisa said...

Thank you for that post. I don't even have words to say what it meant for me to read it. Thank you and continue to stay strong in the faith!

Ashley said...

I read this post through your mom's blog then noticed you visited me yesterday, too (thanks for that by the way). You are lucky to have such a sweet and strong mom but she is oh so lucky to have you. I admire your entire family. Your spirit (oh my gosh - already at age 15) is so incredible and inspiring.

Debbie said...

Hi Abigail...I can barely contain myself as I read this...please click on my profile and shoot me an email. I have an idea.

Kathi said...

You are an amazing big sister! I came over to your blog through your Mom's. I am sure God has big plans for you and your family. Thank you for sharing.

Christina said...

What a beautiful post, Abigail! I especially love your letter to her at the end! Lean on Him always! Love ya!

In Him,
Christina

karin said...

Your tribute to you dear darling sister simply touched my heart! Thanks so much for writing your thoughts down to share with others. What a blessing. This world is definitely not our home, we're just a passing through. That's why we so often get homesick!

Love your artwork too!

Sunny said...

Abigail, I am coming over to your blog by way of your mother's by way of BATW. You are a strong young lady. I know the pain of which you speak because I lost my little brother the day after Christmas 1995 to a car wreck. It was sudden and it was devastating to my family. Thankfully, we have something in common - we both come from families that taught us about Jesus and about faith. I have spent time in the pits and I have also spent times on the mountain tops. Thankfully, He has carried me through those pits. I remember crying to hard and long that my face was at times numb. I still to this day will get quiet and replay my brother's voice through my head just to make sure I can still hear it. I never want to forget the sound of his voice or the memories that I have of him here. I long for the day I can see him again just as I know you do Anna. May you continue to find comfort in the Creator.

Mindy said...

I'm sitting here in tears. This post is absolutely beautiful. Anna was such a lucky little one to have you as an older sister.

tara @ kidz said...

This letter is so beautiful. Thank you for your insight and wisdom and faith. Like I said - AMAZING. You.

ella said...

I am so glad you have such a wonderful family and strong faith that can support all of you through your loss.

Lindsay said...

Hello from BATW! I was deeply moved by this post and loved the note at the end. I am inspired by your faith and the healing power it has evidently had in your life. You are amazing! I hope you keep your blog up so we gawkers can see what you will do with your brilliant future.

Amy said...

Dear Abigail,
Such a sweet post sharing your memories of your sister. I found your mom's blog and sent her an e-mail asking her to pray for our 5 week old son who is having open heart surgery next Friday. I can only hope that he will be ok and grow up to share a wonderful relationship like you and your siblings seem to have with his 21 month old brother and any children we may have in the future. I am amazed at your faith at such a yougn age-I am twice yours. Your momma raised you well!

Lauren Ann said...

that gave me tears...that was wonderfuly written, and i am so sorry that happened.

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