Tweet The cry is what I'll always remember. Animalistic. Primal. Filled with more pain than any one person should ever have to feel.
My beautiful, precious daughter's hands flew to cover her face. I didn't want to take another step. I wanted to run away. Turn around and leave this emergency room, run from the hospital and never, ever look back. I can't do this. Do you hear me, God? I cannot do this.
And yet my legs kept walking purposefully to that bed.
"MMOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM!!!!! I'M SO SORRY! I'M SO SORRY!!! SHE WAS MY SISTER!!!! SHE WAS MY SISTER!!!!!!!"
I grabbed her hands and and pulled them down so I could see her face. Her eyes were squeezed shut, tears streaked her cheeks. I could tell her eye was swollen and shut. There was bruising. There was a large bump on the side of her head.
"Look at me. You look at me!" She kept her eyes shut. God help me. "Look at me. I love you. Do you hear me? I LOVE YOU! And I DO NOT blame you! I DO. NOT. BLAME. YOU. Look at me!"
Her arms were trembling. I held on tighter.
"Look at me!" Her eyes barely opened but I could see all her pain. It almost knocked me over. "You can feel grief. And you can feel sorrow, And you can feel angry. But you are NOT allowed to feel responsible, do you hear me? You are NOT allowed to blame yourself! You are a child and you did NOT want this to happen and I DO NOT BLAME YOU!"
She opened her eyes. "SHE'S MY SISTER AND SHE'S GONE!!!!"
"Honey, look at me. You knew your sister and you knew her love for Jesus. You know right now she is sitting with God praying for you. For YOU."
I honestly don't know what else I said. I know the words didn't come from me... I would never have been able to choose the right ones, say them the right way; and yet somehow, it was exactly what she needed to hear.
After a while a nurse came in to review what tests were done, what the results were, what the treatment plan was.... all I could think of was somewhere in this building lays the body of my other daughter. I had two daughters and now I have one.
A nurse came up to me and asked me for my insurance card. I hadn't thought to bring it. I told her what company my insurance was; she told me this hospital didn't accept that coverage. I didn't care. Charge me a million dollars; I used to have two daughters and now I have just one, and she is broken. Broken to the core of her soul. As she stood and talked insurance I prayed to God to give me the strength to take another breath.
Last year, Avery's Sunday School teacher would hand out a candy bar to those kids who came with a memorized bible verse. One week, Avery was not prepared. She had completely forgotten and didn't want to go to class because she was embarrassed that she would have to admit to having nothing memorized. And yet, after class, there she was, walking towards me with a Hershey's Bar. "How'd you get that?" I asked. "For my memory verse." "Which one did you do?" "John 11 verse 35," she smirked, "Jesus wept."
That's the shortest verse in the bible. I laughed and shook my head. Oh, Avery! Anything for chocolate.
The story goes that Jesus was friends with a guy named Lazarus, who got sick and died. Jesus showed up four days later and saw how upset everyone was. He wept, and then brought Lazarus back from the dead.
I grew up believing that the reason Jesus wept was because he was mourning the loss of his friend. If Jesus was that upset, how on earth would us mere mortals ever be able to handle the death of someone we loved?
This morning I went to my friend Josh's funeral. His grandfather was the officiant of the service. He talked about this same verse... but maybe, he said, maybe Jesus wept because he knew Lazarus was in heaven; glorious and good and surrounded by love and all things perfect and right... and bringing him back would mean taking him from that glorious, beautiful, perfect heaven and making him live in an imperfect, sorrow filled world.
I had two daughters; one is in heaven, and the other is broken. But together we'll try to find our way through this imperfect, sorrow-filled world, into the arms of Jesus.