It is amazing the lessons we learn about life from its very counterpart--death.
Sweet little Regan Faith Mills passed away this week, and at the oh-so-young age of only 6 years old, Regan was tougher than I will ever be. Without using words or gestures, Regan's life speaks volumes to what God can do in a life. She was a living miracle in the short life she lived, and she taught many people how to wait and hope and trust and listen and be content and just BE (see her momma's blog for more on that...).
Last night was her visitation and today was the funeral, which were both difficult times. My heart aches for my dear friends (and often, mentors) Brian and Chantell, whose hearts are deeply hurting even though they've known this day would someday come. No matter if death is expected or sudden, it is never an easy thing. And in these days when everyone is around, it's not easy, but it is certainly easier to handle your pain when there are people there to share it.
In the line last night Chantell and I shared some tears and words that have remained in my mind...she said that she had been thinking of me this week since I've been through the loss of my dad over a year ago, and we briefly talked about how much different it is to be on the receiving end of the hugs and words in the visitation line. It's easy to go through a line and show love and support for people but then be able to go back home to a normal life. We both said, "I wish I could be one of those people."
But the truth is, life is never the same after you lose someone close to you. Sometimes it just feels lonely, and there is nothing that anyone can do about it. No one can ever fill the void of the person who is missing. Jesus is certainly there to bring hope and comfort, and often people around you can do the same, but the void will always be there, because it's supposed to be there. That person had a specific role in God's purpose in his or her life, and only he or she was meant to fill it. And when they're gone, no one else can fill it. But we have to take comfort in knowing that they, as Keith Ray put it in Regan's funeral service today, have said yes to Jesus' invitation to join Him. And that's a much better place than right here.
If you have never lost anyone close to you, you have no idea. I don't say that to condemn you, because I certainly don't wish it upon you, but it's hard for you to relate. I used to be one of those people. I wish I was still one of those people.
Today was hard. It was hard to see Brian and Chantell hurting because they miss their baby girl. It is hard to see Ryder and Rylee hurting because they miss their baby sister. It is hard to see grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, because they miss the precious blessing that Regan was and will always be. And it was hard because it reminds me how much I miss my dad. It reminds me of what life used to look like when he was fully alive (and I say fully, because I mean before any of his surgeries and complications when he truly felt alive). It reminds me how real death is and how short life is. It reminds me of how hard those nights were after his wake and funeral and how difficult the days were when all the friends and family were gone and all we wanted to do was jump back into life as usual, but we knew...life would never be the same. It couldn't.
I wish I was still one of those people. I wish I didn't have to lose my Grandma Mary and Grandma Shirlye. I wish I didn't have to lose my Dad. I wish my Mom didn't have to lose her husband, and I wish my sister and brother-in-law didn't have to lose their dad. I wish my niece Maddy didn't have to lose her Papa and I wish my nephew Evan could have met his Papa. I wish Brian and Chantell didn't have to lose their baby girl and I wish Ryder and Rylee didn't have to lose their baby sister.
But even as we wish we could still go home and go back to normal, I know that our hearts are more alive, our families are stronger, our hope is a little closer, our faith is more real, and our lives are more blessed because we have loved and lost. And what is even more important in all of this is that our God is more glorified and our praise is even truer.
My heart wrenched today as I watched Brian and Chantell worship God, with arms raised high in the air, in the midst of loss, but in the midst of victory. Because God is good. Even in these times, God is good. But I still wish I was one of those people...