I held her close to my heart for sixteen years, I watched her take her first step, heard her say her first word. I kissed her, with a tear in my eye, as Denise left for her first date. Who knew time would become a fleeting thing?
There was no hospital visit, only the cold sterile walls of the room to identify my daughter. Death was instant, I was told, as if it would bring comfort to my mind numbing pain. A drunk driver claimed the life of two young kids. Where was the comfort or fairness?
My heart filled with grief, pain and hatred that day. My husband and I no longer attended church on Sundays. We went instead to visit her grave. We would sit lost in the memories of our only child, longing to hear her laughter once more. Where was fairness, God?
Family and friends tried to help. I closed them out, refusing to listen to words meant to bring comfort. My bother called. “I don’t feel like talking, Jerry, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t hang up, Vicky, this is about mom. She had a heart attack and is in the ICU.”
“Is she going to be okay?”
“It’s touch-and-go right now, Sis.”
I rushed to the hospital, questioning God. Where is the fairness?
We took turns with the short visits allowed. My Aunt Phyllis asked for us to join hands and pray. I took her hand, but inside I could not pray. My aunt tried to talk to me about my struggle, as we sat and waited. I politely excused myself to make a phone call.
Two days later mom was moved to a private room. I stayed with her at night, not wanting her to be alone. I finished the book I was reading and picked up my mom’s Bible. I read as tears softly fell. I felt as if I had been reunited with a long lost friend. My mom turned and reached for my hand.
“Mom, how do I get past this? How do I find His peace again?”
“Honey, grief is normal and necessary, but when we get stuck in grief it’s a dark and lonely journey.”
“It’s all I think about, mom. It consumes my every waking hour, and I don’t sleep much.”
“I don’t have the answers, but I do know the one who does. Give it to Jesus, Honey. Let Him in. Let His healing power take you where you need to be.”
My mom prayed with me, prayed for God’s healing to begin in me, for God to lead me in the way I needed to go. Mom was released from the hospital and that was the real test, I was once again left with hours to myself, hours to sink into my grief.
Walking through the house, sleep eluded me in those dark hours. The door to Denise’s room remained closed. Somehow I felt compelled to open it. I felt the pain stirring in me.
I sat on her bed. Her journal was laying on the night stand. I began to read. The inner thoughts of my beautiful daughter flowed off the pages and into my heart - her dreams and desires of helping others, wanting to one day become a missionary. How she long to work in an orphanage, taking care of the children left with no one. Her words came rushing back to me, words I had heard her speak. “I want to hold those children and let them know someone cares and loves them. I want to teach them about Jesus. Some of them have never known love, mom, I want to hold them right next to my heart.”
I realized that night I had been grieving over her death, but I had forgotten her life. I had forgotten to celebrate who she was. The next morning I showed her journal to my husband. “I want to do something,” I told him.
I begin working to raise funds to help young people with a desire to go to the mission field. In the process God made a way for us to bring two teens from Africa into our home to live and go to school. We once again heard the sound of laughter in our home.
God, in His infinite wisdom, showed me how to pursue peace. It’s a daily pursuit, but I am learning to embrace His peace, knowing I will see Denise again, knowing her dreams live on.
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