Today my heart is heavy. Today, I mourn with a family I am just getting to know in the loss of their nine-year-old daughter. I cannot imagine the heartbreak they are enduring right now. To have held your daughter last night, and to kiss her goodbye for the last time today is unthinkable to me. I have cried for them all day, but if I'm honest, some of my tears are for me too. Because to hear of their loss reminds me that life is so very fragile, and that everything can change in the blink of an eye.
Today I got my own nine-year-old daughter up and moving. As I was planning to take her to get her ears pierced, they were planning their daughter's funeral. As we were making a new memory together, this family was remembering every memory they had with their daughter. As we were talking and laughing and holding hands, they were mourning and knowing they'll never hold her hands again.
I know that God has a plan. I know that He loves each of his children very much and does not want them to suffer. And their daughter did suffer in this life. She had a form of epilepsy that had left her in a wheelchair, unable to talk or walk, unable to see clearly, or think clearly. And now she's free from that chair, she's free from the pain and fright of seizures. Now she's sitting on Jesus' lap and talking to him. She's running and laughing and singing and dancing. She's in that amazing place we all long for (though not just yet, perhaps). But knowing this doesn't stop the pain felt by those she's left behind, especially her mom and dad and brother and sister. And knowing this doesn't take away all the heartache, though I pray it makes it easier for her family to find hope in the pain.
As for me, I am holding my children a little closer tonight. I am thanking God for the amazing gift of life He's given them. I'm thankful for their health, and for the fact that though they struggle with disabilities, I don't have to live in fear of what each new day might bring, as so many parents do. I am praying for this family. But if I am honest, I am also praying it never happens to me. For the reality is, we are all just one chance encounter from being in their place. This is just one more reminder to make the most of every day we're given, to love without reservation or fear, and to make time for the things that really matter each and every moment of every day.
And until that day that they are reunited in Heaven, I pray for peace and healing for this family and all who knew and loved this little girl.