Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dear Senga

It's six months today since your little girl has died, and I use the word died because I'm having to get real with myself.  She's gone.  Not coming back.  And somehow using words like passed away, left this world, etc., etc. just puts a shiny band-aid on what is an ugly scar.  The truth is she died.

And every time her image flashes before my eyes on Instagram or a comment on an old picture on Facebook pops up, my heart breaks all over again.  And I cry.  I can't stop it.  I'll be driving down the road, look at my phone, see her beautiful, beautiful face on the screen, and just start crying.

I've tried to stop talking about her as much.  Not because I want to forget her...I can't, but because I want to stop crying.  I don't want to aggravate an old wound.  It's still tender.  It's still healing.  Not enough time has passed.

And yet, the last time we met, sitting in the Bojangles, catching up and reminiscing and using each others' company as a soothing balm, I am haunted by the words you said.  Her mother, tears brimming behind your eyes, voice catching in a halt as you struggled to say the words, "I just don't want people to forget her."  And my heart breaks all over again picturing you and her and those words and this life you are living--how some days must feel like a shell, a nightmare, and how others must be so full of joy in the fullness of God's love that fills every hole in your life.  What a roller coaster of emotion.

Hear me now in this fact--we have not forgotten.  No one has.  I dare say, we never will.

We can't talk about her all the time because it makes us cry.  It makes us hurt in a way that is unbearable.  It brings back the memory of the pain of the day she left us or the bittersweetness of those last memories with her, last conversations, last hugs, last laughs.  And sometimes it just hurts too much.  So we don't say anything.  We stuff all those feelings down deep inside.  Save them for a rainy day or a quiet place where the tears can spill unnoticed, and we don't have to explain ourselves to anyone.  We're not martyrs for trying to weather the grief alone, we're just human, trying to do whatever it takes to put one foot in front of the other without being an emotional basket case in front of the rest of world around us.  I dare say, no one has forgotten her.

We probably have stopped calling and texting and posting not because we have forgotten her, but because we're not sure what else there is to say.  Some are afraid it's hurtful to even bring her up in conversation.  I'm guilty of this myself with her own sister.  Do you talk about her or not?  Do you ask how the family is doing or not?  What do you say?  What do you not say?  And so my guess is that most people don't say anything at all.  Out of respect for you and your feelings and not wanting to be the one who reopens the hurt, people politely keep their mouths shut.  But oh, Senga!  No one has forgotten her!

People have not forgotten her, but there is truth in the fact that there are no new stories to tell, stories to share.  The new stories stopped when she left us. All we have are the old stories, the sweet memories, the fun times, the laughter shared.  Oh the laughter shared!  And so we remember those, we may not always share them with you, but we remember, and I dare say, we will never forget.

So sweet friend, grieving mother, please don't ever believe the lie from Satan that we have forgotten.  Regardless of how much time stretches between the mention of her name out loud, the thought of her has crossed our minds a million times a day in a million different ways.  She is never forgotten, and you will find blessed peace in claiming that truth for yourself.

And so since their are no new stories to share, I offer you the gift of a memory....My Savannah was missing your Savannah just the other night.  This always happens in the evenings, at the end of a day where something has triggered her memory of your sweet daughter.  She will ask me to lay in bed with her, then she will snuggle up close and stare far away with a look of longing on her face.  I always give her a bit of time, and then I ask, "What do you remember about Miss Savannah?"
       She sighs deeply, "I remember the hot chocolate parties we use to have."
       I smile, "Yeah?  Did Miss Savannah make good hot chocolate?"
       She nods her head, "And we got to drink out of real glasses.  We didn't break them or anything!"
We lay there and just let the memory linger, dancing at the corners of our minds and mouths.  I can see that hot chocolate party in her eyes.  I can imagine your Savannah making the concoction for them because quite frankly that was probably the only dessert she could find in our house, and she always turned lemons into lemonade AND a party=)  And I can see their little eyes shining expectantly, unable to sit still in their seats because this made them feel so special.  It was something only she did for them.  She made them feel so loved and so celebrated.  I can see it all behind the eyes of my little girl.

And that's a good memory.  That's a good story to tell.  That's why she will never be forgotten.  Because she left a mark on our souls just by being exactly who God made her to be.  We all have stories like that we will tell in passing for months and years and decades to come.  And as time continues to pass, we will tell those stories with smiles instead of tears, and that will make them all the more endearing.

How could we ever forget?!?!?  No, that's just a lie from the devil, Senga.  Just a lie from the devil. And I love you too much to let you believe a lie.

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