Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Her Adventure Continues

When Lindsay and I were kids were we often at each other's throats... and wrestling. Yes, girls can wrestle too. Ha! I remember a few specific episodes when one or both of us took things too far, we got in trouble, etc. but what I remember most is WINNING. Growing up, Lindsay was always kinda gangly and scrawny. This string bean of a girl who could barely do a cartwheel because of her spaghetti limbs. She was fightsy, but I was physically stronger and able to overpower her even though I was younger... unless of course she started pinching me or tickling me or doing something else ILLEGAL in the world of wrestling. For most of my life I have viewed her as physically weaker, but her battle with brain cancer has exposed this monumental strength within her character that I never knew was there. Even from her diagnosis last April, Lindsay's response was not self-pity, not anger, not fear, but "Well... I never thought I'd be someone with brain cancer, but I guess somebody has to have it."

Throughout the last 13 months Lindsay's true strength has been exposed, like layers of a onion. With every new challenge, new difficultly, and more and more loss of control, her life was peeled back and strength to handle it with grace and peace was revealed. I never saw Lindsay mad or really that sad about her situation, just simply accepting the path set before her. This to me can only be due to her faith in Christ and assurance of her ultimate destination beyond this broken world. In January, after Lindsay started experiencing problems again (due to a new tumor unknown to us at the time), she put this up on their refrigerator and it's been there ever since. Steve showed it to me in early June and it has brought me peace knowing she felt this way.  I took this photo while sitting next to her for the last time before she was moved to Hospice.
Lindsay never talked about death and dying much. In fact, the only two things I remember her saying at all was, "If things get bad, I'm gonna need you guys to be strong for me," and "I want my ashes scattered at Big Creek. I love that place and it's so beautiful. It's as good a place as any." To her former statement, I can say with 100% certainty that we held up our end of the deal. Lindsay's family and friends (especially Steve) loved her SO well and were towers of strength and encouragement. To the latter statement, we had a discussion because I said I didn't want to swim in her ashes. (Big Creek, TN is a place we started going every summer while we were in western NC for our annual family reunion. A family friend helped us find this place and Lindsay fell in love with it. We would hike the mountain paths and swim in the icy water. It became a tradition that Lindsay single-handedly made happen. Here is a photo of her and Steve (oh, and according to Lindsay, the holy spirit appearing in that sunbeam) at Big Creek.)
Our quasi-ridiculous yet serious conversation ended with her assuring me her ashes would float down stream and that I would not be subjected to actually swimming in them in the future. That satisfied me and I promised to make this happen.

As I look back over the last year I only have one regret - and that's that I didn't spend more time with her during her season of health after her craniotomy. I guess we all so badly wanted to believe that she wasn't a statistic and that she would beat the odds. We hoped that she would maintain clear scans and our life together would proceed fairly normally. None of us knew we were already on borrowed time. Even though I only saw her a few times between August and December, the Lord was so gracious to me in 2013 by giving me these precious windows of time with Lindsay. I look back to each of my visits in Jacksonville with awe - in February, April, May, and 3 times in June and I see the gift of time God gave me. After each of my visits, Lindsay, to our surprise, declined more and started becoming less and less like the Lindsay we knew. It was almost as if each time God snuck me in for the final round - our last normal sister weekend, dinner at a restaurant, smile and hand squeeze, just seconds before those things would stop forever. I am SO grateful for these memories and opportunity to connect with her before the chance passed by. I'm sure if Lindsay knew about this she would say it's no surprise I got my way (as always in her opinion), and roll her eyes at me, haha, but I don't care about her whining. Lol In this case, I needed to get my way since I wasn't able to be there 24/7. I will cherish this gift from God forever.

My heart, mind, and soul are still reeling after her sort of sudden passing yesterday. We knew it was close, but not that close. My brain can't compute it and my heart is ripped open. Words cannot express all the things I want to say about Lindsay, the memories of her I never want to forget, and the giant hole left in our lives right now that's filling up with tears and grief. I am trying not to focus on all the sad things, all the things that won't happen anymore because she is gone. One of the things that makes me sad is the fact all my memories of her are old- we'll never make any new ones together. However, it occurred to me that there's still so much about Lindsay I don't know. She's been so many places, done so many things, with so many people that it excites me to continue to make Lindsay memories through the legacy she left behind in others. Please continue to write on the Life With Lindsay Facebook page so I can continue to get to know my sister through the eyes of other people who did life with Lindsay at one point or another. I know there are enough stories out there to last the rest of my lifetime!

As I ponder death and wonder about so many things, Choose Your Own Adventure stories come to mind. Did you read those books as a kid? We write our own at Kids@FHC and use them as a game to teach kids about Jesus. The premise is that you get to decide for yourself what will happen in the story. The plot goes along and then all of a sudden you are faced with a challenge. You are given two options each chapter, and based on your choice there are different outcomes. If you make the right choice, you hear how you made it through and the welcomed phrase "Your adventure continues!" and you move on to the next chapter. However, if you make the wrong choice, there is an undesirable consequence and then the dreaded line - "Your adventure had ended. Game over."

For me, it's hard to feel like death isn't "game over" and the end of her adventure since we've seen her physical life end, but I know in my heart that if you've chosen to surrender your life to Christ, death is really a launch pad into the greatest adventure you could ever have - painless and joyful life with Jesus forever. It's an adventure beyond our wildest hopes and dreams that never ends. It's a place that perplexes most of us and leaves us desperate to alleviate our curiosity and solve the mystery of exactly how wonderful this place is. In that sense, it's no surprise Lindsay went first... and as soon as possible. I am sure my super chatty sister is chomping at the bit to spill all the deets to those of us left behind and invite us into this eternal party. Her life on earth was packed with adventures and all sorts of things she faced with boldness, faith, and of course a healthy dose of laughter.  I know her adventure is in fact continuing, it's just now being played out in another book that is only full of good things and never ends.

I love you Lindsay and you will always be my big sister and friend. I can't wait until our lives join back together one day, but in the mean time, thanks for leading the way.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written.
    My sister went to heaven in 2005.
    My baby sister, we were 2 years apart.
    I felt like my heart shattered.
    Then God gave me my beautiful child, making my heart whole again.
    God is with you, and I know Lindsay is watching after you now.