Friday, February 12, 2016

One of my most favorite places on earth is ironically a small slab of cement overlooking the gulf in Florida.  The slab of cement allows my feet to dangle over the water and my gaze is naturally brought to the horizon where water and sky meet.  And if my eyes allow me to wake before the sun, I am often blessed by watching the sun kiss the day.  There is a slight breeze that somehow blurs sounds and I can sit, think, and talk to my Jesus with little worry of anyone around me hearing.  Even now, as I sit at Panera with a Dr. Pepper to my left, I can hear the water lapping over the sand in a rhythmic motion.  Some of those waves grace the millions of pieces of sands while others bang into the cement wall.  A variety of memories flood me even now.  I have sat there many times.

I've been there with my nephews and niece... that time defined by playing in the sand.  

I've sat there overwhelmed by the sweetness of my Jesus embracing the life He has given me.  

I sat there after I heard a little baby boy I cared for was very sick with malaria.  

And shortly after coming down to remember the life of my gramps.  

It's been a place of peace.  A place of remembering.  And a place of embracing.  


That word feels like a theme already for 2016.  I referred to it exactly a month ago as I babbled on about a rat.  And by the way, I think I got a lot of "missionary" power points that I didn't deserve. The rat was NEVER in my bed at the same time as I was... at least that I knew about. 

But that is not what this blog post is about.  I think in the psychological world, I'm avoiding.  

These last several weeks of my life have been some of the absolute hardest.  And I don't know how you write about the hardest weeks when you are still walking through them.   

And just like the water rushing over sand and banging into the concrete walls, my heart will keep walking.  

On January 24, I woke up and prepared for the day before me.  I had just said goodbye to a dear friend the day before and had enjoyed a particularly lazy day after her departure.   

It was the beginning of a new week and my agenda was full.  

And then I saw a message on my phone.  A message from my mom.  

"Please call it is urgent"

I don't know why I wasn't nervous about her message, but I didn't think too much as I picked up the phone to call.  Had I done the calculations in my mind, i would have realized the time difference.  The reality that she was messaging me around 11:40 her time.  It was well past her bedtime.  My day had begun... my parents should have been deep in la la land.   

And so I called.  

And in those following seconds, my life changed. 

I can't say much.  I just heard bits of what my mom was saying.  

Sylvia.  Asthma.  Passed.  

All the other adjectives, pronouns, and verbs were a haze compared to the three words I heard.  


Not Sylvia.  

Not Sylvia.  

The following moments were an absolute whirlwind.  I've heard of shock.  Even claimed to have experienced it after a car accident as a kid.  But honestly, the world started spinning around me. 

The following minutes were a blur.  I called a friend.  But can't even remember if I got through or if they called back.  I don't remember much about the conversation.  Except that my friend told me what to do.  She gave me clear instructions and then she prayed with me.  Her words are vague, but she prayed with authority.  And that prayer was a whisper of peace in a tornado of emotion.  

 Everything from there flowed.  My community in Uganda... my family... stepped into action.  Tangible action.  I was 3 hours away from them and yet, I knew their presence even as the wind and storms swirled around and inside me.  I was pacing in a hotel room and there were lots of people stepping into action.  Not only in Uganda.  But literally all over the world.  


My sweet, spicy baby sister.  My first memories of her were looking up at her as she lay in the baby chair up on the kitchen table.  She was quiet those first days.  She just looked around or slept.  Those days were short lived.  From her early days, Sylvia was a bubble of life.  A girl of curiosity.  And a girl who expressed herself.  I was eight years her senior and loved having a baby sister.  

I practiced braiding her hair.  Learning over time how to braid and bead.  

She loved the Little Mermaid.  
And Barney.  
Oh Barney.  
That super cheesy show.  

She loved Koala Yummies and exploring.  

She loved her big brother and she loved the moon.  

And she loved her "Mr. Bear"

We were both full of life and passionate and that similarity created a bond that was forged from a young age.  

We talked lots, laughed lots, and talked more.  
I would tell her she was a treasure.  She would look at me like I was ridiculous all the while laughing with a smile on her face.  I think she wanted to hear it.   

And we grew up.  Unknown to either one of us, we walked similar paths of pain.   

Those journeys, though different, were similar enough that we bonded further as young adults.  

She would call to vent and process.  

I know she thought I was special and yet we connected.  We were so different and yet so similar.  

And then there was a bump in our relationship.   There was a deep bump or maybe better said there was a big bump.  

We didn't talk for a long time.  A long time.  
Would I have done things different?  For sure.  Would she have done things different.  For Sure.   

By God's grace and His grace alone, Sylvia and I reconnected in early 2015.  

It was awkward at best, but within a few minutes, we were talking.  And really talking.  We both had things to rectify and we both had our hearts to share.  We shared rawly . We shared honestly.  We shared openly.  And in the end I think we both would both got into our cars with smiles in our hearts.  

Rebuilding would take time.  But we had both taken the shovel to the mess and together we had dug through some of the muck.  

As we walked to our respective cars, Sylvia looked me over head to toe and appreciated my outfit.  
And by appreciate my outfit, she clearly communicated that she thought my outfit was well, not fancy enough for meeting up with her.   I laughed.   We were alike in a lot of ways.  She was clearly a lot more stylish.  I am not as much.

I so wish I had taken a picture that day.  I remember intentionally not.  I wanted that day to be about us reconnecting.  And I didn't want to get all picture happy.  That was fine then.  But to be honest, I wished we had taken a picture together.  Her all dolled up and me, well... wearing what I thought was cute.  

I sit here thankful for the last year.  Going to her house and connecting with her family.   The times Sylvia and I reconnected with messages and likes on face books.  The times where we talked on the phone and did what we always seemed to do... go deep.  

We laughed a lot too.  There was the humorous call right after Justice was born.  He was hours old and so was his placenta.  The one that Sylvia was convinced she was going to eat.  We laughed and laughed over the eating of that placenta.  She was braver than me.  

The talk of skyping and the hopes of continued relationship.  The excitement of coming back to the States and spending more time with her family.  Of knowing her kids more.  

Of phone calls.  Of laughter.  Of deep chats.  Of the things we used to do and were had just resumed doing.   

Oh Sylvia.  I love you.  It's been nearly 3 weeks since that dreadful day and I still cannot fully grasp that I can't pick up the phone and call you... or message you...or hear your laughter.  
I love you sis.  I will always love you.  Always.  Always.  I always have.  And I always will.  

I don't want hit publish on this blog post.  

It somehow is another step in acknowledging that this bad dream is real.  

A few months ago, I put out a request on Facebook for some music.  And Sylvia gave me a few recommendations.  And so I post the lyrics of one of the songs.  Truths that I am holding on to extra close.  

And to you all who stood by me.  Who have prayed for me.  Encouraged me.  Given me hugs.  Supported me.  For all of you who have supported my family.  Sylvia's family.  There are no words.  No words to express my gratitude.  
No words except Thank You.  

Not For A Moment (After All)

By Meredith Andrews
You were reaching through the storm
Walking on the water
Even when I could not see
In the middle of it all
When I thought You were a thousand miles away
Not for a moment did You forsake me
Not for a moment did You forsake me

After all You are constant
After all You are only good
After all You are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me

You were singing in the dark
Whispering Your promise
Even when I could not hear
I was held in Your arms
Carried for a thousand miles to show
Not for a moment did You forsake me

After all You are constant
After all You are only good
After all You are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Not for a moment will You forsake me

And every step every breath you are there
Every tear every cry every prayer
In my hurt at my worst
When my world falls down
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Even in the dark
Even when it's hard
You will never leave me
After all

After all You are constant
After all You are only good
After all You are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Not for a moment will You forsake me

No comments:

Post a Comment