“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.”
~1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (NLT)
It’s been a very emotional week for me, missing so many people that have passed on from this life to the next. I know the older I get, the more I will be facing the loss of friends and loved ones, but knowing that doesn’t necessarily make it easier.
This week my father would have been celebrating his 100th Birthday. He had always hoped to be with us to celebrate the milestone and missed it by just eight short years. I was blessed with two wonderful parents, but as is the case with many fathers and daughters, I was always “daddy’s little girl.” I think our relationship was even more important to me because of his age. My father was special in many ways, but what people remember most about him is the joy he found in making people smile. It didn’t matter if it was a lifelong friend or a new cashier at the market, my dad always offered a joke and a smile to everyone he encountered.
We are also nearing the one year mark since my mother passed away. I know it’s just a date, a benchmark, but I can’t wrap my head or my heart around the fact that she’s been gone a whole year. Many years ago I asked my mother what she dreamed of becoming when she was a young girl. She told me that all she ever wanted in life was to be a wife and a mother, and I must say, she did both with excellence. Throughout my school days, and my entire life for that matter, my mother was my biggest supporter. No matter what was going on, when the curtain went up, I knew my mom would be right there to support me. Even if it meant she had to walk miles to get to that school play or awards ceremony, she did it, and never complained.
This past week there was also an emotional article in our local newspaper about my young cousin, Nolan. He is a very special young man and the daughter of my cousin, and lifelong best friend, Leigh. (Read more about Leigh here)
Nolan was 13 years old when his mother was diagnosed with cancer and 14 years old when she passed away the following year. The article was a great tribute to both Nolan, a talented high school basketball player, and his mother, who was also a great athlete during our school days. I am very blessed to remain a part of the lives of Nolan, and his equally awesome brothers, Jarod and Wade. They are all incredible young men and the image of their mother, both in appearance and in their kind-hearted, loving nature. Leigh was my spiritual mentor, my “phone-a-friend” when I had questions about the Bible and my partner in prayer. Whenever someone needed prayer, she would text me and simply say “Pray, sister! Go Team!” She was my sister in every sense of the word and I am humbled to be an “honorary” Aunt to her boys. Leigh inspired me in the way she lived her life, raised her boys, and especially in the way she shared the love of Jesus Christ with everyone who crossed her path.
The Bible tells us that in this world we will have troubles and, even if you are lucky enough to skate through life with no tragedy, the bottom line is very few of us pass from this life without mourning the loss of someone we love. As I struggle through this emotional time, I am doing my best to focus on the Word of God, the truth, which is that someday I will be reunited with my parents and Leigh. I envision my dad giving me a great big hug, my mom greeting me with her beautiful smile, and Leigh saying, “What took you so long, sister?!” with her infectious giggle. Yes, someday, we will all be together again in the presence of Jesus and it will be a glorious day!
In the meantime, I hope to honor each of their lives by the way I live mine. I do my best everyday to emulate my father by bringing a smile to those who cross my path. My son, Eric, is an aspiring graphic artist and a talented writer and, in the footsteps of my mother, I am his #1 Fan. I’ve also come a long way in sharing Jesus with others, and I think Leigh would be proud that I am stepping outside of my comfort zone and ministering to those around me. It is my prayer that in doing these things, in some small way, my parents and Leigh live on and continue to be the incredible blessing to others that they each were to me.