Is it possible to feel so much hurt and so much anguish in one year, while it is simultaneously the greatest year of your life?
This has been the year when my entire family, sans myself, was inches away from certain death. After a long bible study on spiritual warfare at a friends home, they were heading home when, only a few miles from our house they were struck by a huge truck, which totaled our minivan and somehow my whole family walked away without major injuries.
We looked for and found our joy. I worked and studied a lot. I passed and had a tough time with classes. I led a bible study with a friend and started planning the missions trip I’d eventually lead later in the year. My parents graduated their second daughter and planned the whole thing themselves with a budget of $0 and it was a beautiful success.
My mom put on her support boot, grabbed her crutches, and flew all the way to Florida to spend a few weeks with my grandma at her winter home. And we at home ran our home and had fun and missed our mom. They drove back to Texas together at the beginning of May, stopping in Mississippi to attend my cousin’s graduation and then they were home. We took a big breath. All was well, all was home.
I put off visiting my grandma. I talked with her once or twice. But I was so busy.
I can’t remember with what.
At the end of May my sister, my boyfriend and two of his siblings (my friends) got in a little car and started driving. “California by sunset… tomorrow!” We saw a Texas sunrise in a town we’ve never seen before but looked like a place we’ve all been to before. I slept through some borders, we sang loudly and off key. It was a daydream state of mind. Young enthusiasm, a touch of fear, joyous hope.
Then my grandma was in the hospital. Then my grandma was comatose. Then my grandma passed away.
And I’m 1,500 miles away on the adventure of a lifetime.
I still don’t talk about her without crying. I can hardly think about her without tears welling up in my eyes. I had the joy to live just over 100 feet from her house for 10 years of my life. I got to cook with her and tell her my secrets. I rarely sat in a chair at her house. I’d always sit cross-legged on the floor because I wanted to always feel small, and she’d sit in her LazyBoy and we’d talk and argue about everything. Without fail, I’d walk in and say “Grandma, I can only stay for an hour.” And then hours later we would still be laughing and I’d look at the clock and realize that whatever was important didn’t seem so important now and she’d ask if I’d like a mug of tea and after half a moment of hesitation I’d say yes.
On the road, it didn’t seem real. I cried and cried and cried in homes of various friends we stayed with. I sobbed in campgrounds before anyone else was awake. A few hikers asked if I was okay and I’d smile, “not really, but I’ll be fine.” and I’d dry up my tears before my camp was fully awake and pull myself together and cook and clean and everything was fine.
I didn’t go over to her house for quite a few days, and I probably would have continued that trend if I had not refused to let my cousin sleep there alone. But it was so different when I walked through that door. She carried such a strong presence and it was so still in that house. It wasn’t a home any longer.
Things haven’t slowed down since then. I had to help plan a funeral. I had to plan a missions trip. I had to keep my grades up and try to hit my deadline (I failed). I had to try to be normal and not freak my boyfriend out with how heavy my heart has been (also failed). Somewhere in the mix of all that I lost touch with Jesus, I couldn’t pursue him because I was just exhausted.
God has truly worked in my heart these past few weeks and I have grown more in him than ever before. Trust is such a difficult thing and though my trust has slipped quite often this year, I am thankful for all the growth He has allowed me to experience. Funny enough, through my brokenness and doubt God took me on a wild journey to Alaska with a group of my friends to minister to a church and community. And in rural Alaska, he sealed the cracks in my heart.
My heart still hurts. My grandma’s house is empty now, her familiar scent doesn’t rest there any longer. I can’t go over and she can’t give me tea and a big hug when my days are tough. It's hard looking at the home I've spent the greatest part of my life in and knowing that in a few short years I'll have to walk away forever. It's hard knowing that I might not be able to get married on top of the hill in the perfect fall light with friends and family. But you know what? This world is not my home.
I can trust Jesus to take me through this crazy life, knowing and believing that we DO go through things that are too hard to handle. But it's his redeeming love that fills our souls which makes it possible to thrive and have joy even in the darkest points.
Pictures from my California trip. Coming soon: full posts of my California adventures. Soon to follow: Alaska adventures!