Ya know those days in your life that become a break in time for your whole life? Pre and Post being married, before and after kids, a move to a new house/state/country. Whatever it is, there are certain events and dates that forever mark our lives and April 18, 2014 is one of those days.
I'll never forget getting a call that morning from my Mom with the most unexpected news of my life. My sister, Emily's, little girl, Margaret, had died. That moment in my kitchen is one that will be with me forever. We had been anticipating Margaret showing up any day and Emily had gone to bed feeling her move around and due to God's sovereignty and a knot in her umbilical cord, she woke up early on that Good Friday morning and Margaret was gone. I don't know exactly how anyone processes that kind of news and I don't really remember being able to do anything except squeeze my babies and pray that morning. It was a busy weekend - Easter weekend - and there was so much fun to be had and all of a sudden, with a single piece of information, everything changed. The tasks didn't change. We still had to clean up from the Seder dinner and make up Easter baskets and color eggs but suddenly none of it mattered. What did matter more than at any moment in my life, was that it was Good Friday and that meant that we were reflecting on Jesus being crucified. The promise of Good Friday is that Resurrection Sunday is coming! and in a single act, death having "no sting" took on a whole new meaning. and that fact that we have hope "beyond the grave" meant something totally new in my world. My precious niece was gone before we had even met her. and my sister and brother-in-law and their girls and all of our family were hurting and yet in the same moment, we all began a journey where we have seen and experienced Jesus so differently than we ever had in our lives. And there's something so sweet about that, that it's hard to put into words.
As the morning went on and we knew that Emily was at the hospital, that labor was beginning, there were so many questions and even more prayers. and then another text with words that we had anticipated seeing for months showed up. She's here. and it looked just like that. No exclamation points. No emoticons. No joy. Just words stating a fact that none of us even knew what to do with. She was here, but she wasn't here. She was with Jesus and perfect. And we were here, and missing her and yearning for Jesus in ways I had never experienced in my life.
and so plans were made. We would leave after church on Sunday and drive to Texas. Which doesn't seem like a big deal, but Texas is far! So, we colored eggs, and made Easter baskets, and opened Easter baskets, and packed clothes, and mapped a route to Texas and waited for Sunday.
That Good Friday night I went to a Tenebrae service at a local church. I had never been to one before but really wanted to go and be in the presence of the Lord with other believers. At that service the pastor read 1 Corinthians 15:12-23 which says "
Emily and Rob, with strength that only comes from the Lord, led Margarets' memorial service themselves and did a fantastic job. To stand up in the middle of their grief and testify to the goodness of the Lord was powerful. It was a sweet time of worship and remembering and grieving
and thanking God with our family and their friends.
Emily had promised their daughter Cora that once
Margaret was born that they could have a cookie cake to celebrate.
So, after the service there were refreshments and of course cookie cake was included in that.
A couple from their church donated a tree to be planted in honor of Margaret. Its leaves turn red in the fall (one of the only trees in Texas that do that) so it will always stand out and be a way to remember who she was and what all the Lord did with her time on this earth.
For Margarets 1st birthday a bench was added by the tree. So now when kids are playing on the church playground, parents have a bench to sit on and a tree to (one day) be shaded by and they can think about sweet Margaret and how she got the best of everything being loved by a family on this earth and being taken straight to the presence of Jesus without ever experiencing pain or sadness or sin.
From "perfection to perfection"
Another friend donated a grave plot for Margaret to be buried in.
That time, with just our family and a few close friends, was also so sweet.
and the Torchys Tacos afterwards weren't bad either :)
In all honesty, it would be my preference to never walk thru anything like this again.
To never see a casket that is so small again. To never experience the heartache again or watch someone we love walk thru this type of unexpected grief.
However, after this experience there is no denying that our God is ever-present.
That He is near to the broken hearted.
That when we walk thru the valley of the shadow of death that we don't have to fear because HE is with us. and ultimately, that He is Good. We may not have gotten to meet our little Margaret on this earth but after Jesus, Himself, she is one of the things that I'm most looking forward to when I think about heaven.
and I can't wait to get there to meet her!