This is the post that I have put off writing for a long time. The words, thoughts, have swirled around in my head for months.
But how do you start the blog post about death?
She was there one day and gone the next.
My friend, Johanna, she was a star. Not with fame or something trivial like that. No, she was such that when you were in her presence you couldn’t help but become enveloped in her glow. She was magnetic.
She was there when I first brought that boy to my college church. We giggled when discussing whether or not that guy was my boyfriend. And she was there when he and I had said our “I do’s” a few years later.
We had shared laughs and tears and conversations about life and God.
She was my friend.
Her heart was big and she loved big.
And now I would never get to say goodbye, not really. Because back in the fall when I got the news that a car accident had taken her life I knew that I wouldn’t be able to leave Papua New Guinea.
So I laid in the bed next to that same boy and cried. And I had to start learning to grieve from afar.
We went out to the village a week later and she lingered in my mind.
She lingered there as I hiked through the jungle. She lingered when I pounded dough and formed loaves. She was there when I stared out at the distant mountains, when I laughed with new friends.
And she lingered still a few weeks ago on the day she was supposed to walk down the aisle dressed in white, pledging her forever to the love of her life.
The truth is I’ll never be rid of her. And I don’t want to be. I want her mark on my heart to stay fixed, tattooed there. I don’t want the image of her face to dim or fade. I don’t want her beauty to leave me.
How could I have known that two years ago would be my last opportunity to see her? When I was in town and we tried to get together but it didn’t work out.
She left behind a fiancé and 7 brothers and sisters and a mother and father. All broken to seemingly irreparable pieces, much more than me.
And I can’t help it, it’s my human nature I guess, but I had to ask Him why. Why her? She was good and kind and to know her was to love her and why her, God?
He doesn’t answer me, not really. But I do know is that “death has lost its sting.”
Donne said it best when he penned those words:
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
I know she doesn’t miss this world even though it aches for her. For her smile and laugh and tender nature. The pain is real and it lingers with her memory.
But she is home. And I can’t ache over that. She is with Him, forever.
Johanna Mae, bright star, your glow remains.
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.