I wrote the following the morning after Ian's memorial service:
I thought maybe going to the memorial service last night for Ian would give me some kind of closure. Instead I sat there a few rows from the front, all the way to the right side of the church, looking at the front side door and thinking at any minute Ian was going to come running through the doors and tell us to stop, that it was all a really bad joke, and that he was definitely not gone. The only thing last night made me want to do was to see him and talk to him again. Thank you Jesus that one day I will.
If I would've gone up front and shared my memories I would've said that I both loved and hated to play with Ian as a little kid simultaneously. I hated it because I liked to quote movie lines, but he could always quote them better. When we played tag I could never catch him. When we played monopoly he always won. But I loved it because he was so funny, never boring, obnxious and hilarious at the same time, full of fun ideas. I would've said how he was always doing the unexpected, crazy thing that no one else could do. When Shaun first met him at my parents house we were swimming, and all the sudden Shaun was like "where'd Ian go?" And we started looking, and there he was down at the very bottom of the deep end doing sit ups. He could just do stuff like that. Somewhere along the line, we both grew up, and we went from cousins who played together and got on each others nerves, past the awkward stage where you're not really kids anymore and don't know how to relate, and into a real appreciative sort of friendship with each other. I remember a thanksgiving at my parents, after we hadn't seen each other for a while, and before my aunts and uncles and cousins all left Ian hugged me. He was way too macho too tell any of us how much he cared about us, but I suddenly knew he did very much. He hugged us all every time he saw us after that. And I would've ended by saying I wish I would've hugged him a little longer the last time I saw him.
I've spent my life up to now in the innocence of "childhood." Where bad things come close but they never strike in quite so much finality. I lost my Poppop in 2007, and I still miss him very much, but it was a natural part of life. He laid down to take a nap and woke up in heaven. Though it was unexpected and things will never be the same without him, I can take comfort in the fact that he lived a full life, loved Jesus, watched his grandkids grow up, touched many, and went home peacefully.
There have been several very scary close calls in my own family, things that opened my eyes and made me want to love more and savor the moment and never take life for granted. But thank God I didn't have to say goodbye.
Over the past 6 months Tragedy has touched people very, very close to me, and I've found myself thinking back to when I was little and assumed life would go on sort of like a fairy tale, where you don't lose people until they've had a chance to live out their life to a nice old age, and it's hard then, but at least not so tragic, and doesn't make you question the safety of everyone around you at any time. I really don't want to go to anymore funerals for a long, long time.
And it is at this point that I have a decision to make. Do I become fearful? Do I allow my heart to ache over the possibility of potential devastation that can come without a moments notice? Or do I continue to live a life abandoned to love and hope and trust that God's plans for me will never be more than I can handle, and that in the midst of my heart breaking He will hold me together.
Perfect love CASTS OUT FEAR. I know that Jesus loves me. I am held in the palm of His hand. Therefore, fear has NO place in my life. When it threatens to overtake me, I run to Him. I have a new rule in my life that when I find myself becoming emotional/fearful etc., I ask myself if what I am emotional about is a reality or a possibility. If it's not a current reality, I can't let myself react. The unknown can be scary if we dwell on it. Instead, I want to stay in the "known" or, in other words, in the actual moment I am in and love others much while I am in it.
I have jokingly told my mom and my best friend that recently I've been making a deal with God. I told Him that I'm just gonna stay so close to Him that He is going to be constantly tripping over me, like, I'm just gonna pretend I'm his little shadow, and I'm gonna spend so much time with Him He's going to be sick of me (not that he ever actually gets sick of us, thank goodness!) and that way He doesn't need to allow any situations in my life that are hard to make me come close to Him, cause I'm just gonna stay that close when life is good.... Obviously this is just my silly way of saying I just need Him and want to be close to Him whether life is good or bad...
I could keep writing and writing of the revelations that have been coming to me in 2012 of how big a deal fear is, and ways to keep it from over taking our lives. Every time I think I can conquer it in my own strength it becomes a problem again and I have to ask Jesus to kick it out for me. But that's the wonderful thing: We can take the same problem to Him over and over and over again and He will always lovingly take our burdens and give us rest, and LOVE us through our difficulties.
[click here to read part 2]