Yesterday she died, and we wept and mourned and cried and sorrow wracked our souls.
Today, I'm simply numb and the selfish sadness of this life echos inside the hole in my heart. The onslaught of pictures of her online break my heart. I'd give anything to see that smile again here on earth. To watch her sweep my children into her arms one last time. To tangibly feel the joy she brought them and the joy they brought her. That moment when she came to our door and my kids realized it was her--that's the moment I keep reliving in my mind.
In a world desperately searching for joy, that moment was joy. Real joy.
And now she's gone. And my heart is desperately searching for joy again.
Some out there might think I'm a bit over the top. But she wasn't just "one of the girls in my small group" so many years ago for 6th, 7th, and 8th. From the moment I laid eyes on her in 6th grade, I felt connected to her. I loved everything about her instantly--even then. Even in all the early years of snotty, sarcastic middle schoolness, even when she tried to give me the cold shoulder, I loved her until she let me in, and then I could never let her go.
Her freshman year, when I met with her every week while she was suffering and home bound, we did what I thought was a useless Bible study on joy. I watched her suffer week by week for a full year. I listened to her stumble through the study questions, so many of which I really couldn't give her an answer. For a year we searched for joy together, and I never thought we really found it. In my mind, it had alluded us in the midst of all her misery.
Come to find out, five years later, in that year of suffering, she found joy. She found it in our friendship, I think. She found it despite her pain and itching and misery. She found it in Jesus alone. And so she told me, it's not just her middle name tattooed on her right hip, it's the Joy she found that year we met together. That year when she ingrained herself on my heart, and I knew I'd never let her go.
So I let her in my life. She started babysitting for me every week. We paid her more than I should have because I loved her deeply, so I guess she kept coming back=) She started helping me raise my children. Over the next five years, she helped me set boundaries for them and make life fun. They loved her deeply. Over those years, our friendship grew as she grew into a beautiful, confident young woman.
She would come to our house and tell story after story of what God was doing in her life, all the adventures she was experiencing, all the hurts from friendships and relationships. And I would listen and laugh and love and cry with her, and we let each other into each other's hearts. Not much was ever said, but she understood me, and I understood her, and we just simply wouldn't let each other go.
When she left for college, we all cried the last day she babysat for us before heading off. She made sure the "Miss Savannah" bag at our house was always full of candy, so my kids would never forget she was the best babysitter ever=) Then she would text me before the weekends she came home, and we'd always work her into our date night schedule, mostly just so we could see her, hug her neck, and listen to her stories. She took light and laughter and joy with her everywhere she went.
It wasn't long before I realized she was coming over even when we weren't paying her=) She stop by when she was in town just to chat and catch up. She'd stay for a dinner, watch a football game, come to a party, or just stop in to say hi to the kids. She had helped me enjoy three family vacations by coming with us, and she was simply part of our family. Bottom line, she was part of our family.
She was a sister, a friend, a child in the Lord of mine. And I had plans to never let her go. I had envisioned my children as flower girl and ring bearer at her wedding one day. I had plans to never let her not come on family vacation with us. I was going to pay her to spend time with my children for a full day, every day this summer mostly because I know they love spending time with her more than me=) I was never going to let her go.
And yesterday, I had to say our earthly goodbyes. I had to let her go. I'm still letting her go. Today I can't let go.
So for those who don't understand my tears, my hurt, who think I'm the crazy girl who's over the top about a girl who wasn't even part of my family. Let me tell you, she was. She was a part of our family as much as any older adopted child is a part of their foster families. She was loved, and she will be missed. And there is a hole where she once was in my life. A hole that only Jesus can fill.
Sunday night, He gave me this verse: Psalm 62:8 "Trust the Lord in all things, Jennifer. Pour out your heart to Him, and He will be your refuge." And so that's what I'm doing. I'm pouring out my heart every chance I get because I will not fall into the trap of my mind. I won't slip into the darkness that beckons in the bottom of that hole. I will do as my God has commanded and pour out my heart every chance I get!!! Only Jesus can fill that hole. Only Jesus.
I penned this in my journal to my children yesterday, and I think it has helped comfort me the most, "I'm dreading going home and telling the two of you (Weston and Savannah). I have no idea how you will react, but at the same time I know that with you two is where I need to be. Life goes on, children. Miss Savannah's time on earth is done. Ours is not. Mine is not. God still thinks there's more left for me to learn--not to do though. No--I think Miss Savannah had a whole life left of greatness ahead of her--things she could have accomplished for the Lord. I think maybe, she didn't have a whole lot left to learn. She had truly learned the secret of having joy and giving thanks in all circumstances, of becoming all things to all people just to lead some to the Lord. She knew Jesus. She got it. She figured it out. She was in the perfect place in her life to go Home and love Him--her Bridegroom. So that's where she went. She went Home."