Her life was measured in days, but there is no way to measure the impact she had on those who love her. We said good-bye to Kaylee Hope on Saturday.
Joey has posted about the final days, the emotions, and the memorial service on his blog. (See the right side bar for posts.) He mentioned that he feared for normalcy because that might be a sign that Kaylee Hope has been forgotten. But, her value, and the impact she had on the lives of her family is not dependent on the memory of others. We all move on. We have to move on.
My mom's 72nd birthday is tomorrow. The 9th anniversary of her death is this Sunday. I don't think of her every day any more. My children bring her to mind less often than I do. That doesn't mean she's forgotten.
It is true that people live on in the hearts of others. Not in some tangible, physical, mystic sense of indwelling another's body with their spirit. But our time with them helps to shape those left behind. In a parent/child relationship the effects can be monumental. There are mannerisms, speech patterns, opinions, and even fundamental personality traits that can be directly traced back from child to parent. There are flowing rivers of love and emotion in a parent that are brought out by a child.
The loss of one so loved leaves a very deep impression on the one left. The pain, the trial, the journey, is part of the fertilizer used to nourish our souls and shape our characters. God uses the pain of the trial to nourish and bring forth good.
I can't help but think of our compost pile. We throw in the "trial", the produce peels and skins, the spoiled leftovers, the rotten leaves and yard waste, and in time we have a nutritious mulch that pours life into our plants and help produce strength and beauty. I certainly don't think about bananas, fresh lettuce, and beautiful fall leaves when I see a blooming azalea, but they are there.
If I don't think about the elements that went into compost all of the time I can be certain that my children and neighbors never think of it. That doesn't diminish the impact of the fertilizer.
The same can be true with losing a loved one. God uses the painful experiences to produce strength and beauty in us. There is tremendous value in that, and that value is not measured by the memories of others. The value is in our own memories and the fruit produced by the trial.
I prayed a strange but very honest prayer last fall. I asked God to stop sending trials my way. I reasoned that, while trials produce patience and patience works to bring us to 'perfection', I didn't really want to become more patient. I asked God to consider where I was with my present level of patience and earthly perfection and see if He could just leave things as they were and consider it "good enough".
I really meant that prayer. I really wanted to be done, forever, with trials and learning patience. God said no. So, I humbly submit to His all-knowing wisdom and goodness and accept the trials.
I know we need them, and they're just part of life, but I wouldn't be a normal parent if I didn't wish that I could pass on the learning of my life's trials to my children so that they could grow without going through them.
But I can't. So I'll also trust that God will uphold them and strengthen them just as He has me through my time. And I'll try to use what I've learned to help hold them, in my arms or my my heart, through what they have to go through.