Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wish you were here...

I smirked a little typing that... Wish you were here ... Makes me think of old timey, beachy postcards... Which made me think of the time you and I were poking around in one of our favorite little shops and we found this quirky stationary and started lamenting that no one writes letters anymore. It's such a shame, we said. Like when you die, I won't have any correspondence (Who says that in everyday conversation? Apparently me?) between the two of us. People don't save their emails or text messages. And even if you did, it would just be written in this informal type that gives no window into the human soul like authentic handwriting can.

Huh... I said that. I said, "When you die, I won't have any written words between the two of us.... We ought to start writing one another letters, like they did in the good ol' days..." "Yeh, we should," you said, "but who has time for that? Maybe one day...." Gosh. That was probably a little over a year before you were diagnosed, maybe two before you did die. If only we'd known....would we have taken the time to write one another? Who knows...

What I know is we didn't. What I know is I have very few things that actually have your handwriting on them, one of which is a short grocery list written on a tiny hot pink sticky note, stuck to my red beans and rice recipe. Every time I reach for that recipe, there your note is, almost mocking me because while I know you wrote it when you were sick, I can't remember the circumstances or the specifics of that particular day.. Like did we go to the store together that day, what was the weather like, what did we watch on tv that night, what did we talk about, how long was I there for, and on and on...such minor things but, oh, how I wish I could remember.

Another is a list of memories you had written down to share at our wedding rehearsal dinner. You didn't finish it so you read it that evening in its incompleteness and said you would finish it up over the summer and give it to me then. Except you didn't. You didn't get to finish it. And truth be told, I happened upon it, tucked behind some little tchotkes on a shelf in your bedroom, when I was cleaning one day. And something inside me said - take it. Take it home. Take care of it and when she gets better give it back to her to finish. Except I didn't. Because you didn't get better and now you can't finish it.....

I wish I could write you, Jen. I wish you could write me back. If I could write you a letter tonight, this is what I would say...

Dear Jennifer,

I love you. I love you in the only way your sister could. I love you different than Lindsey loves you, though, because she and I are different and the relationship, the friendship, I had with you was different.

I miss you. I miss you every single day. Every single one. Can you believe it? There is not one single day that goes by that I don't think of you and miss you terribly. Does that sound trite? Cliche? You know, I don't really care if it does. Because its positively true. The ache is different day to day. Sometimes it's a dull, almost numb, ache. Sometimes it's a sharp and painful ache. But I go along... day by day... week by week... month by month... *And now it's years that separate me from you.

I wish you could come and visit. I'd introduce you to Fowler. You would think he's the best. And then of course you met Mac but you could get to know him, and you would see that he's the best too...and so very much like you. I'd tell you all about Lindsey and Eli and Dottie and the new baby Jenny Clay, named after you! And I know Matthew would love to see you. He loved you. He told me the other day how much he wishes he had gone to Nashville to stay with you when you were sick, to help you, to be there for you. I told him how much you would have loved that, how much it would've meant to you.

I'd show you around the house, our grandparents' 1940s home. We could talk about when Grandaddy would  play hide and seek with us and about the time we ate so many King Leo peppermint sticks we got horribly sick and also about the time Granny practiced baptizing (by submersion!) our little Presbyterian fannies in the front den while Grandaddy watched the Sunday afternoon race. We could talk about Fowler's upcoming birthday party, what I should get him, what I should get the boys for their Easter baskets, what they should wear for Easter ... You would be full of ideas and have the best ones, I know. Nobody cares to talk about that kind of stuff with me, ad nauseam, the way you did. You always indulged my selfish me, me, me talk.

I have a confession to make - I have prayed for The Lord to deal with my selfishness. I'm so miserably self-absorbed and no one felt the effects of my wretched, me-oriented world more than you (and perhaps Matthew ;). I'm sorry for my selfishness. I'm sorry I was concerned more for me than for you. I'm sorry I did not love you sacrificially. I'm sorry for the hurt I caused you, and I know I did. I wish I could wipe it all away. I am thankful for The One we love who has wiped it all away.

On that note, enough about me.... Tell me about you... How are you? What is it like? Who have you gotten to see? Where do you live? In a house? In a mansion? Just off a street paved with gold? How is the food? What do you do everyday? How do you feel? Are you laughing because my questions are so short-sighted and silly? ...Most importantly, what is He like? Do you even have the words? Can you find a way to describe him in a way that my finite mind and rotten heart can understand, can grasp? Oh please! Tell me all that you can and don't leave out one single part! The greatest and the sweetest and the deepest longing of all my life is to be there with Him... My life is like the morning fog - it's here a little while and then it's gone. It will not be long until I am there. How I pray The Lord will prepare me for it while I am here and prepare the ones I love most dearly. How I pray He will use me as His vessel to bring more into His heaven.

I love you, Jen. See you soon.

Your sister,
Lauren

*Romans 8:35-39
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[a]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Maybe, just maybe

Pain still lurks in the hallways of my heart.

Pain for you. Pain for me. Pain for Mom. Pain for Billie. The old adage says time heals. Time heals... the heartache? Time heals...  the loneliness? Time heals... the desperation? Time heals... the crazy? Time heals the....pain?

So if something gets healed, it's like something goes away, right? Well maybe, just maybe, this pain I feel is not supposed to go away. Maybe, just maybe, this pain was meant to stay around. I kinda hate this pain because it hurts so bad. But I kinda love this pain because it keeps me connected to you.

And that's what I want so desperately. To still be connected to you. I don't know how not to be but, at the same time, every day that passes is another day separating me from earthly you. It's another day that a memory I once had of you slips away.

And fear hits.... If time keeps passing by and memories keep slipping away, what if I run out? What if I stop remembering you?

I woke up in a panic the other night trying to remember you.... The way you laughed, the way you motioned your hands when you talked and you were trying to explain something.... and even small things like the way you readjusted in a chemo lounge chair while we watched Breakfast at Tiffany's on the little tv monitor in your "stall". What in the world were a 31-year old and a 29-year old doing in a chemo lounge? Am I the only one who thinks those ages sound too young? .... But then again, I guess if I'd typed 72 and 70 that'd sure sound young to an 86-year old.... But then again, I didn't see anybody else our age in the chemo lounge... ever. (Not that folks that age don't deal with cancer and chemo and all the rest... You just didn't encounter many in your cancer world.)

It dawned on me a couple months ago that I will soon outlive you... I will, in two weeks Lord willing, outlive my big sister. My goodness, how did I get here - to 32 years and some months - and you didn't? That's another post and another glass of wine ....

So as I ponder what to do with my life that gets lived longer than you got to live yours (if I make it that far - I'm still about 14 days shy)..... I'll sit here with my pain, with the ache in my soul and the thick lump in my throat, and I'll long for heaven and my precious Jesus. What else is there?

And maybe, just maybe, the pain is all part of His perfect plan to make much of His perfect self. The One who will one day take all the pain away.