Yes, it is!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Explaining Death

This past weekend was a difficult one.  A very special girl named Abby died and her services were held on Sunday and Monday.  Jackie knew Abby and I went back and forth as to whether I should take Jackie with me to the services.  Jackie is just 6 years old and I just didn't know what was appropriate.  She knew Abby and her therapist, Julie, often talked about Abby.  I knew I would eventually have to explain to Jackie that Abby had passed away.  So, I finally told Jackie on Saturday night.  First I asked her what she remembered about Abby.  Jackie replied that she remembered that Abby didn't walk or talk and that she had to use a wheelchair.  I went on to explain to her that Abby had gotten really sick but this time, her body just could not recover and she died.  Jackie started to cry and said "but, I liked her."  The tears welled up in my eyes as I quickly tried to think of a way to comfort Jackie.  So, even though I am not sure where I stand in my faith at the moment, I asked Jackie if she believes in Jesus.  Of course,she nodded her head.  Then I explained that Abby was now in Heaven and she was now healed and whole.  And guess, she can walk and run and talk now.  Jackie looked back up at me and then smiled.  Then she ran off to play with her brother.  I felt like a hypocrite because here I am explaining Heaven to my little girl when I don't even know what the truth is right now.  But what matters is that my little girl is comforted by her own faith that Abby is okay now. 
On Sunday evening, I attended the viewing of precious Abby.  It was not as difficult as I expected it to be. And I was amazed at the number of people who came to pay their respects.  Abby was truly remarkable, indeed.  She touched so many lives in her short time on earth.
The funeral was yesterday (Monday) and I attended that as well.  I remember the day before listening to a song by MercyMe and thinking how appropriate that would be for Abby's funeral. The funeral started with a few words from the minister and then some hymns were sung.  After the music, the minister came back up and shared a couple of letters that were written by Abby's sisters, Caitlyn and Emma.  I don't believe there was a dry eye in that chapel after those letters were read.  The minister then went on to give a very touching message.  He talked about Abby's disability and her legacy.  It was very moving.  After he finished, a song started to play and I recognized it immediately as the song from the day before that I had thought would be so appropriate for the funeral.  And again, many tears flowed around that chapel.  Then it was time for the final goodbye and the procession to the cemetery.  It has been a very long time since I had attended a funeral.  It was a difficult one but it was a very moving one.  I am so glad that I had to privilege to get to know Abby.  As I said before, I loved to share her story with others and I will continue to do so whenever the opportunity arises. 
I am so thankful that I have gotten to be good friends with Abby's mother, Julie.  Julie started treating Jackie for physical therapy when Jackie was just an infant.  I will never forget the first time I met Julie,  I was a mess.  I had post-partum issues, Jackie was colicky, I was scared for my baby after receiving her diagnosis, I was angry.  I was just not doing good.  Julie has been a rock and even when she had to get tough with me (and Jackie), I never resented her for doing so.  She was (and still is) one of my biggest support systems.  I never thought that we would become good friends over the years but I am so grateful that we have.  Julie is a very special, very strong woman.  But my heart aches very deeply for her.  I know how much Julie loved her Abby. Abby was very much a part of the family and Julie made sure that nobody treated Abby otherwise. To Julie, Abby was perfect the way she was. 

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