This past Saturday we had to live through one of those times that I dread. A time when I am reminded, once again, how much I have lost. A time when I am reminded how much I will miss. A time when I reminded of how many of my dreams will go unrealized. One of those times when I missed Arlynne more than ever.
This past Saturday, Arlynne’s best friend got married.
The bride is like a daughter to me. She is a part of our family. Chosen, first by Arlynne and then by us. She has parents, a sister but she also had another place where she could come. Where the door was always open. And even if it wasn’t, she had a key. Where there were more people to love her. To listen to her. To embrace her. And I do love her. But time and a man and his family have come and claimed her heart. I understand. It is about growing up. But it is so soon. Too soon.
I still see the crazy pic that she and Arlynne took of themselves years ago. Ages ago, but just yesterday. These two crazy girls. Arlynne had a ring that Krista bought her. I’m not sure why. Arlynne was wearing it when she breathed her last. Krista wears it now. An unspoken bond. One I don’t have any other woman. But one I wish I had.
Krista was one of the precious people that I had talk to myself. Had to deliver the news to personally that her best friend was gone. I consider it pure grace that she hadn’t heard already. It had been hours since we had heard, when I finally got her on the phone. She was her cheerful, bubbly self. In a word, it changed. Arlynne’s death changed her. And her family. I am pretty sure that my Arlynne had been adopted too. By Krista’s family. Now they mourned. Maybe not as deeply. But they did. They still do. I am ever so thankful that I am not alone. I am not the only one who remembers.
Krista’s sister stood as her Maid of Honour. Wearing my daughter’s favourite colour. Purple. And a tiny butterfly in her hair. A reminder of grace. An acknowledgment that there was someone special that wasn’t there. Arlynne. I like to think that those two precious girls would still be friends. Arlynne made friends for life. Maybe I’m wrong. But I like to believe it to be true.
Now this beautiful young woman is a wife. She returned our key. She has another place to go when she needs an encourager. When she needs an ear. Or a shoulder. I told her that she didn’t have to return the key. That I love her still. That not only is she welcome but her young man is also. I don’t expect her. But I will be here if she does come.
The wedding brought another blessing. Arlynne had other friends there. A very special young man who blessed us with a visit at least every week when she was still here. Not a love interest but another someone who she brought into our family fold. He is precious. So very, very precious. And losing her, I believe, wounded him to the quick. Even though I love him, being here, at our home, is too painful. Too raw. Too hard. I understand. I live here and sometimes, especially at the beginning, it was too hard for me too.
I got to see him on Saturday. He came and sat with us during the ceremony. His presence kept me from breaking down when I saw that small butterfly clip in the maid of honour’s hair. Maybe I was strong for him. Maybe I couldn’t bear for him to see the loss in my eyes. Mirrored, maybe, in his own. But I made it through. Celebrating a new beginning of a new family.
I was warned, very soon after losing Arlynne, that these milestones would hurt. I have lived through some of them already. I was at the graduation ceremony when all her classmates received their diplomas. My heart screamed “she should be here”. But she wasn’t. She was represented. By simple purple ribbons pinned to many of the graduates’ “Sunday best”. It was of little solace. At least they remembered but I would rather not have to remember. I would rather see her, there, celebrating with her friends. But God had a different plan, a different path. For her and for me.
A wedding is another reminder that my plans for her were not His. I will never see my daughter pledge her heart to a man. Maybe she never would have, even if she was still here, but I could still dream. I could imagine her growing up, spreading her wings, bearing me grandchildren. But my dreams have been stolen. They were ripped from me the day she left. There was a verse, though, on the whiteboard in her room. Written in her (messy) hand.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV) “11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
That was true of her. She sought God. She called on Him. She trusted Him. And she believed that His plans for her were good. Maybe not ours, but still good.
And I believe the same for me. I do not believe that I am a rudderless boat, tossed and turned by fate. I believe that My Heavenly Father has a plan for me. Not an easy plan. Losing Arlynne was part of it. And that isn’t easy. In fact, it is hard and terrible and I wish it didn’t belong to me. But I trust. I trust that HE IS FAITHFUL. My sight is limited. I can’t see the big picture but He is the artist. He is creating it. Orchestrating it. And it is GOOD. HE is GOOD.
On days like Saturday, when I have to face the cold, hard reality, I have comfort in knowing that I don’t have to walk alone. My Saviour is right there. Picking me up when I just can’t stand anymore. And then, one day, my eyes will see what my heart truly believes. Thank-you, Jesus.