I've lost track of the years, but I've kept track of every moment. Every moment when I thought, "She'd love this. She'd enjoy that. She'd be laughing her head off right now at this. She would have come and stayed for the summer. She would have gone and done this with me, with us, with my kids. She's laughing right now at that. I would have invited her to come out for this. I would have bought her that." Those thoughts, those moments, never stop. They continue to catch me off guard.
I spent a whole day bawling my eyes out last month for what seemed like absolutely no reason at all. No reason other than I was just overcome with the thought of missing her. The day passed, the tears stopped, life moved on, but on this day, every year, the world slows down just a bit. The sun passes slower through the sky, and it only seems right to honor someone who changed your life.
She really did. She changed the way I viewed people. She changed the way I viewed how to love and interact with people different from me. She changed the way I viewed suffering and how to respond and live life in the midst of it. Her death left me marked for life. For the better.
Not sure I've ever mentioned this, but I've been reliving our last conversation together in my mind for some time now, maybe half a year. I remember her calling me Saturday afternoon before she had her asthma attack on the following Sunday. I remember hearing how tired she was in her voice. I always asked how she was. She always said fine. She asked me some details about the next week because she was going to start babysitting for us for the summer after her finals were over. I remember being distracted, needing to get off the phone for some reason, so the conversation was rushed. I remember wanting to tell her I loved her, but that was weird because I'd never said that to her before (we weren't technically family after all.) But I remember having the overwhelming urge to say it, and then not saying it. Simply saying goodbye, see you next week, and hanging up, worrying about her because she sounded so exhausted.
And then she was gone. It was Tuesday before I held her hand in that hospital room, hooked up to all those machines, looking like she had long left this earth. And I must have stood by her bedside whispering over and over again how much I loved her, how much I appreciated her. How I knew she knew, but how I wished I had said it out loud more.
That last conversation has haunted me for too long. The truth is, she knew I loved her. I knew she loved me. We didn't have to say it, although it would have been nice. But that conversation was/ is a turning point, a milestone in my life. It's a reminder to me to never be too busy to listen and respond to the things the Holy Spirit speaks. His Voice is often so quiet, so gently prodding, that my busyness inside my own brain, my train of thought that is always pressing on to the next station instead of parking in the moment, often overwhelms and barrels over His always guiding Voice.
His Voice that is always prompting me to say "I love you", to pour the glass of milk for my son that says "I love you", to lay for two minutes longer in bed at night with my daughter that relays the message "I love you", to scratch my husband's back for just a moment longer to say "I love you."
Jesus just wants us to ooze "I love you" out of every pore in our body, every action, every thought, every word. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) He wants to be the love that others feel and see and know that is true because HE is the only true Love in the world. (1 John 4:8)
And while I refuse to live in condemnation of a moment lost to say "I love you" to one of the dearest people I've known in this life, I will never forget the lesson learned. Friends, we are NOT promised tomorrow with anyone, for anyone, by anyone. (Proverbs 27:1) The Holy Spirit knows. (1 Corinthians 2:10) He knows the moments we will regret and relive and yearn for do-overs. So the challenge is to learn to listen AND obey in the moment, exactly when He speaks. No questions, no hesitations, no over-thinking. Not quenching the Spirit with our busyness or sin or excuses. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)
You never have to second-guess or over-think an act that says "I love you" in the 1 Corinthians 13 kind of way. Never. Just do it.
My dear Savannah Veale, I love you. Always did. Always will. You will always be a part of who I was and the catalyst God used for who I am today. You are still a source of great joy for me, even in memory. The ripple effects of your life are still rippling.
Now to Him who is able (My God is ABLE!) to do immeasurably MORE than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21 (emphasis mine)