I have a message from her on my Voxer app on my phone. For those not familiar with the app, it's like text messaging only with voice messages. There's a whole conversation on my phone between the two of us back in April, and it rips my heart out to listen to it, but I wouldn't let you delete it off my phone if you paid me all the money in the world either. I keep silently hoping that in time it will delete itself, but probably not. It will be there. My last earthly reminder of a girl who ripped my heart open with her honest, shameless beauty and perspective on life. The voice of a girl who got it. Who knew how to be infectious for Christ in a way that was simply magnetic. You couldn't help yourself but be drawn to who she was and how she lived life.
I've gone through my photo albums and made copies of all the photos I had of her. Most of them were from middle school. So many silly, silly, laugh out loud pictures! Even in her memory, she makes me laugh and smile and giggle from the inside out. I don't have one picture of her making a normal face with my children. She was always making life a game for them and loving them unconditionally all the while.
My five year old cried every night after her death at bedtime. The first month she cried inconsolably. There was no comfort for her tiny heart. The second month, the crying was not as heart-wrenching, but still...every night. We finally made it to her grave site mid-July where more deep tears ensued for all of us, saying those final goodbyes, writing some last words on some silly paper lanterns. (I know she loved her crazy, redneck, haphazard grave site. She totally would have decorated it that way herself=) And after my daughter shed those last deep tears by the grave, I could feel a weight lift off her soul as she stared out the car window on the way home. She stopped crying after that. For the most part, I think we've all stopped crying on most days, but not all.
Somewhere in there we managed to go on our first family vacation without her. I cried my eyes out every day packing for that vacation. We had specifically sought out a condominium this year that had enough beds for everyone. No packing the air mattress. Turns out we didn't have the need anyway. I carefully slathered my children in sunscreen from head to toe, praying they didn't burn because they had never burned when she did it every year. It was bittersweet, but God showed up and turned it into one of the best family vacations we've had in years. It was such sweet fellowship. Thank you Lord.
So much has changed since she left our lives. So much is continuing to change. As I wrote before, life goes on. Still there's a place in my heart, my life, my mind, my soul where a little of the sadness lingers for a friend gone. I think that's the scar left from the wound that opened and poured fresh three months ago. I've never cried that hard in my entire life. My husband even said he'd never heard me cry so desperately broken before. It scared him a little, and with the way I cry about things on a regular basis, that's saying something. I loved her, and it was too soon. Too soon for her to go.
So much has changed since. So many good things. So many pictures I wish I could text her, tweet her. I choose to believe she can see them whether that's true or not.
I wonder about her family daily. I pray for their wounds, their scars that are left behind because Lord knows if I have one, there's is bigger.
Her little sis came to babysit our kids the other night. Joey and I smiled across the table at each other that date night, comforted by the fact that a Veale was spending time with our kids again. She said she was fine when I asked her how she was doing, holding back the tears that dared to peek around the corners of her eyes. I didn't press. How many times has she had to try and answer that question?!?!?!? There's no good answer. But the long, hard hug she gave me when she left that night said more than enough, and I'm telling her now....it comforted me. Thank you, Emma. I wanted to comfort her, and instead she wound up comforting me instead! He scar has to be bigger and deeper and more tender than mine, and yet she comforted me. What a testimony to the strength and love of God that lives in the hearts of this whole family! I am blown away. Blown away.
And so life goes on. I don't think anyone is capable of answering the question, 'How are you doing?' after something like this, especially the family. 'Fine,' is really the only appropriate answer. All the things you know to be true are still true. There's no need to rehash them, reopen the wound. You still miss her. You still have days you cry when you think about her. You still wish she was around for certain events and happenings. You still want to give her a hug and laugh with her again. None of those things has changed, but you're fine just the same.
God is still good, and every one's stories are still being written. God is still sovereign, and He has used her life as an instrument to change the stories of so many for the better. For me, her life has set me on a path to pursue joy, true joy because she knew it in Christ. In the midst of all her suffering, there is not a doubt in my mind she knew real joy in her lifetime, and I want that. A joy that seeps into every crevice of my being and oozes into the lives of others. I'm determined now more than ever to find it and share it.
What does her life inspire or encourage you to do? What imprint did she leave behind on your heart? Because the answer to those questions is the real reason why we miss her. Praying God helps you find the answers to those questions for your own life. Those answers are a comfort and a hope in mine.