Skip to main content

Avery Johanna | 10.05.01-10.24.12

 It starts simple enough. A mom has three kids: Jadrian (18), Avery (11) and Brody (3).

And then she had two.

On October 24, 2012, nineteen days after she turned 11 years old, my precious daughter, Avery, died instantly as the result of a single car accident.

My oldest daughter, Jadrian, was driving Avery back from gymnastics class and home to go to church youth group. The weather was unseasonably bright and sunny and warm. They took a picture together upon leaving the gym. It was the last picture they took together.

We would never see it.

Minutes after leaving the gym the car hit a patch of gravel. They hit a utility pole. Avery died instantly. When I was handed the death certificate (yes, they just hand it to you. No envelope of protection or anything.), I immediately noticed the word SECONDS neatly typed in all capital letters.

It was typed in the box titled "ONSET OF INJURY TO TIME OF DEATH."

Here's what you want to know:
  • speed was not a factor
  • drugs or alcohol were not a factor
  • texting or phone use was not a factor
Here's what you need to know:
  • Avery fiercely loved Jesus.
  • Avery had a faith that went way beyond her short years.
  • The last words Avery ever spoke to me were: "YOU KNOW, MOM, I REALLY AM A GOD GIRL!"

In the hours, days, weeks, and months after her passing, God would prove His love over and over and over again in some truly incredible amazing ways. Ways way too big for my comprehension.

Avery is truly a God Girl in every single sense of the word.

I do not blame God. I never have.

I have questioned why he allowed her death. I have questioned why my oldest daughter has to be wrecked by a sense of misguided guilt and responsibility.

I have sat sobbing in parking lots and shower floors and church pews and aisles of grocery stores, but I have never blamed God.

I have felt my body crumble with grief so intense I was sure my skin and bones and teeth and soul would turn to dust.

But I have not blamed God.

Maybe because Avery trusted Him so much. Maybe because her entire life was trying to show me how I could trust Him, too.

Or, maybe because from this incredible, painful grief I have received the greatest blessing of all: I now know the God who holds my daughter. And He is good.


Popular posts from this blog

The House that God Built

in·stan·ta·ne·ous /ˌinstənˈtānēəs/ adjective 1. occurring or done in an instant or instantly.
synonyms: immediate, instant, on-the-spot

The thing is, she died so sudden.
I didn't have the chance to plead with God, to make all the irrational promises. If he would just let her be okay.... I would start taking better care of my health. I would be nicer to the neighbor that drove me crazy. I would always let someone else go in front of me at Walmart no matter how long the line was. I wouldn't complain. Ever. I would volunteer at the Homeless Shelter. I would clean up after pigs. I would clip the toenails of the elderly. I would do anything and everything He would ask me to do....
There is a box on her death certificate that captures the amount of time between the initial injury and the time of death. It reads "seconds." I wish it read "instantaneous" because she deserves a clever word like that.
Fast forward five years.... definitely taking MUCH longer than "…

Seeing Avery All Grown Up

One day I'll tell you about the freezing cold we left and the heavy bags we lugged, full of supplies and medicines. I'll tell you about arriving in Port au Prince and walking across a cracked concrete parking lot to board an old school bus with a flat tire. How the heat was suffocating after months of below zero Wisconsin winter weather, how the people crowded and walked too close to moving traffic as we searched for a tire shop that was barely more than a couple men sitting on overturned 5-gallon buckets on the side of the road next to a pile of old tires, everything covered in dirt.

I'll tell you about waiting on the bus while they removed the tire and I'll recall the loud explosion that rocked the bus and scared the life out of me and how I was relieved to learn it was just the tire blowing after being filled too far. (They didn't have any gauges.) And then I'll tell you about the fear I felt when I realized we didn't have a tire and we were stuck on th…

When Your Imagined Life is Nothing Like This One

There were so many ways I imagined my adult life would be....THIS is not one of them.
I posted that on my Facebook wall last night. It might have been seen as funny except my choice of hashtags gave me away:
treading water getting nowhere piles of disappointment not many successes worn out and exhausted out of options

I always imagined my life would be thrilling. Full of exciting adventures and people from all over the world. I would dine at Ethiopian, Thai, and Indian restaurants. I would write books, teach English, coach forensics and direct the play. My husband would be charming and funny and not care about gender roles when it came to household chores. He would beg for at least six kids and I would fall in love with him all over again each time I caught him giving good life advice.
I would take photographs and travel the world documenting the people I came across. I would adopt a sibling group of three or maybe four and work on foster care policies because the ones we have aren't work…