seven of us rode in the car... seven adults who've been friends for the better part of 5 years and not a word was spoken. eery silence. what words are appropriate when the lump in your throat and the gut wrenching feeling won't leave? how do you find "proper words" in the 10 minute drive from the restaurant to the memorial service of one of your friends that died too young? there are no right words for that. there are no right words to say to katie's parents, to her husband, to her sisters. there are not even right words to say to your own friends. so our car remained silent as we each processed our own grief and did our best to walk into the day prepared.
one of the most stunningly beautiful girls i've ever met also happened to be one of the purest hearted, tender spirited girls i've ever met. she had it all goin' on. her love for Jesus oozed out of her being even in the midst of severe pain and incredibly limited lung capacity. katie parsons may was someone whose life touched all those she came in contact with.
yesterday was horrific and beautiful all rolled into one. a 32 year old husband should not be speaking at his wife's funeral. loving parents should not have to say goodbye to their 27 year old daughter. "You give and take away, You give and take away - still my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be your name," were the words we sang at her service. words that communicate to our God that no matter what season of life, whatever changes may come, we still trust Him, we love him and we believe that death is not the end.
you see, that was the absolutely beautiful thing about this whole week and particularly about yesterday... because He lives, there is hope amidst loss. katie's ashes were scattered yesterday (well half of them - the other half are to be taken to the Ukraine, her other love). as her family & her husband scattered her ashes in the pacific ocean, each of tossed a flower into the water. we lost much when we lost katie, but there was beauty yesterday, beauty from ashes.
the other thing that allowed us to experience hope amidst loss was authentic community.
- i watched katie's dad jump in after the ashes and swim out deeper... alone. and then i watched two of his closest friends jump in after him, throw their arms around him and pray, right there, amidst her ashes, in the middle of the pacific ocean and it was beautiful. it was hope.
- i watched our motley crew of seven laugh together, cry together, pray together, grieve together and just be together and come around our friend, john for 36 hours. this breathed hope into each of us and while we didn't know what to say, it was enough to just be.
i am grateful for real community. i am grateful for hope.
and as our sweet friend john sang at his gorgeous bride's service: "i will praise you, I will praise you - though the tears fall, still i will sing to you. I will praise you, Jesus, praise you - through the suffering still i will sing."
katie may - thank you for living a full life, for caring more about others than you did about yourself, for being someone who oozed Jesus and for teaching us how to continue to hope in the midst of pain. we will miss you.