Today is March 13…trivial to most of the world and life-changing for me. This day still makes water leak out of my eyes, as I discovered earlier today.
There are times in my life that I hate having a good memory. It’s more scarring that anything, because in an instant my memory can bring perfect crisp 3D color to very painful moments. Joyful moments, too, but today…very raw, painful ones.
Fourteen years ago today is one of those days that I wish my memory had conveniently lost. I was in my dorm room in Des Moines and got a phone call from Kansas City that a close high school friend had been in a car wreck. After the news came that he hadn’t made it, I found myself in a vortex of disbelief as reality sunk in that a vibrant, supportive and loyal personality was no longer walking in this world. I was desperately grasping at straws to survive the emotional turmoil.
I was in a horrendous place for over a year. Drowning in significant depression, and eventually told by my dad, ‘Everyone has people that die in their life. You just move on and get over it. There is no use in dwelling in it. That’s what you need to do – get over it!’ He had no way of knowing that I was at the point that could not physically or mentally do that on my own, but with his words I then felt I couldn’t show him what was really happening to me on the inside.
I would hold it all together…because it was what was expected…then I would have panic attacks and fall apart. It was scary. It was painful, and only a few people knew it was happening.
The only way for me to come through it was to completely submit myself to Christ. It was weird, because before college, the only thing I knew about Jesus was he had two holidays…and I wasn’t even really sure why he had them. It’s hard to believe in a guy who has holidays just for himself…until you realize what that guy said when he walked this earth and the Spirit that came for all the believers on the heels of his departure.
When I say I know I cannot live without the Holy Spirit sustaining me…it comes from personal experience. It comes from a place of relief. It comes from a place of extreme gratitude. It comes from feeling the sweet freedom of real life. It comes from a place where my past, present & future collide into a beautiful symphony of God’s provision and calling.
Today. (Deep breath.) Today, I went to the gravesite for the first time in over a decade. I left some crazy daisies for a friend who was completely crazy, and walked through some crappy stuff with me in high school. Who believed in me and supported me in ways I never fully appreciated until I began to see the world as God see it… communities of people living life together. The full clarity came when I found myself in communities who did supported each other in radical ways. First in college with friends who never left my side, and now in a fantastic community of friends, who laugh with me, cry with me and are my enthusiasm when I have none.
Today, I reflect on that day. I grasp on to Christ as my memory slides me back into those desperate moments. And I remember who I was, who I am…and ready for who God is still creating me to be.
Now when water leaks from my eyes on March 13…I’m still not sure what percent is selfish sadness over the world losing a teenager, and what percent is profound thanks for the choices I made because of that loss. Either way…the water flows freely.