Grief is awful. There are lots of emotions and there is crying and there is joy for the life, for Heaven, and there is remembering. Those things all feel natural to the process... what doesn't, is then going on with life, living. One of the hardest things, I think, is figuring out how to do all of the things you usually do in the wake of loss. How do I write on my stupid blog when Audrie is gone? It seems like a nonsensical question, but I find myself faced with it anyway. Everything still happens, that doesn't change, but two Tuesdays ago Audrie died [it took me a solid minute to even write the words] and everything changed. Lots of things in my life will look exactly the same as they did before, but absolutely nothing is the same. Nothing changed and everything changed. Isn't that just stupid?
There are certain things I know to be true and it feels right to start with these. God is good. God loves me, my family, God loves Audrie more than we who love her can even fathom. I know our God is the God of all comfort; that scripture says that God is close to the brokenhearted, to the crushed in spirit. I know that God was close to Audrie throughout her courageous battle, whether at different times she knew it or didn't, although I like to think she did. I know, with great and powerful certainty, that Audrie's joy is complete - that her body has been restored, that she feels no more pain, no more worry or fear. Though it pains me, pains all of us that we no longer hear her laugh, see her face, Audrie is in a place far better than the best thing I can imagine. Jesus has overcome the grave and that, that is good news.
In the past few years one of my favorite things about my life has become being little sister to my two big sisters. Having grown up in the same house with my little brothers, big sister was something I organically came into. Being a little sister was more of a process... and that's a little hard to put words to but in the end it is one of my favorite and most prized titles. As I have grown up, I have gotten closer to both Audrie and Amie, looking to them as a little sister, wanting in a very kind of childish way to pretty much follow them around with my nose in their butts wondering what they will do next that is cool and big sistery. (I think I have pretty much kept my cool in all of this so Amie, don't be shocked by this admission of admiration, ok? Just flip your hair and we'll move right along.)
So, now. Now. After. I'm mad. I'm mad and sad and I want to cross my arms and pout like Shelbie (my niece) does when she's mad at Hazel (our dog) for going outside without her because I want more time, more time to learn about Audrie and to hang out with her and to learn how to be sassy and clever and witty and loyal and protective like her. I love listening to stories about her, I love remembering the times I spent with her myself, but I want more time to be her little sister, and I want more time to be her friend. I think we all do, want more time with her, that is, I do not mean to say that I am unique in this desire... but today it's what I am feeling most. I am mad, and it is not fair.
I asked one of my friends how life was just supposed to go on, now. She, being very wise in my opinion, said that yes, as hard as it was, life did go on. But it didn't mean that things hadn't changed. And, she said, sadly the world might be just a little less beautiful.
Maybe so. I think that things will get easier, that time may heal some of our family's pain. I know that it will not always sting as badly as it does right this minute. But we will never forget, and heal though we may, that loss will never be fine. There is not a magical number of sympathy cards or bouquets of flowers or hours we spend crying or even hugs from our friends that will make it ok, as good as those things can be. And maybe that's ok. Maybe that's just what it is, in the end. I don't know yet.
Audrie was strong, beautiful, funny, caring, sassy, "fiercely protective," loyal, selfless, fun, and fabulous. She had fantastic taste in shoes, she loved to read mystery novels, she loved the University of Nebraska. Apparently there is a cookie recipe she has been perfecting for years, one I am excited to try baking myself soon. She loved her kids, loved being Mommy to Emily and Joel. I had promised her that with my profession I would try and figure out teenage girls for her, and I will keep that promise. She was cool. She had great hair, great jewelry, great taste. She displayed in her home, prominently, all of the things I have crafted for her over the years, no matter how silly. She always shortened my name, even when she addressed envelopes to me, which always made me smile. Our sister Audrie was a badass. There's not really any other to put it.
I will remember car rides, dinners, laughing, the first "happy birthday little sister" card she sent me, making fun, seeing stupid movies (XXX starring Vin Diesel comes to mind), the new years eve party she invited me to (I wanted to stay home, couldn't resist her invitation, I loved that she wanted me there), party bus, birthday cakes, talking about books, saying I love you, playing with her kids, sitting at chemo, laughing, a sleepover on my birthday, crowding around her hospital bed, laughing, milkshakes, sitting on her bed - all of us at once - just days before she left us, laughing, spending so much time saying nothing important, saying goodbye, saying everything important.
I miss her, we all do. I even miss worrying about her, praying for her treatments, I miss emailing my prayer list with the latest update. I miss her laugh and her presence, texting her, thinking of something clever to write on her Facebook wall so she would laugh, visiting her. I'm in Wichita and (by definition) bored and Audrie was always the first to remind me that she was here, just a few minutes away, that she'd love to do something anytime, whenever, whatever.
God is faithful. As Habakkuk so eloquently said, "[even when everything is really really sucky]; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior." I'm trying. Praying and leaning and trusting and trying.
I love you love you love you Aud. We will forever carry you in our hearts.
Your admiring and slightly dorky little sister,
here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)