As we closed out our semester, I found it nearly impossible to focus. I think I was more excited for the break than SJ. While I love many aspects of homeschooling and know this is the right thing for this season, it makes me almost giddy to think of next year when he will go to high school. It became even more of a reality as he took the school entrance exam during our last week. It was a placement test, of sorts, and I will be curious to see if test results reflect anything of our year at home.
To complicate our final week, I learned that a family friend’s 19-year-old daughter had passed away on Saturday night. This doe-eyed beauty, who had married her sweetheart just this summer, is with the Lord but that makes the loss no less acute to those left behind.
In my world, that makes three deaths in one month. A 39-year-old worship drummer friend. My cousin’s two-year-old son. And now Laura.
Mercifully I have been spared this kind of grief for most of my life. The downside is that I am so ill equipped to respond. In most cases, I have probably done less than I should or could for the family, mostly from my lack of confidence in knowing what to do.
When I heard about Laura, I prayed that God would show me something I could offer. In what tangible way could I redeem my inaction and be a blessing to this family? He answered. I don’t have much, but I can write. I couldn’t help but feel like the little drummer boy. I have no gifts to bring. Shall I play for you? Pa rum pum pum pum.
Calling the family was the hardest part. Though we were once neighbors and walking buddies, our circles have since followed separate orbits so it has been a few years since we have sat together and talked. What a tragic way to reconnect. Inadequate doesn’t begin to describe the degree of my thoughts toward myself and what I had to offer as Laura’s mom said hello. I stuttered my condolences and offered my humble gift. Mary nodded. Pa rum pum pum pum.
Over the next days, I met with Laura’s parents, collected messages from her friends, and took notes about her short life. It occurred to me then the gravity of this job. In my hands was a lifetime of memories, told to me by grief-stricken loved ones who would never again have Laura but who will have the words that I write. How does one make sense of such sadness with honor and grace? I held a legacy and I could only pray God would give me the words. I played my drum for Him. Pa rum pum pum pum.
I wrote. And I cried. I sifted through photos. And I got to gaze upon this lovely girl. Her time seemed so short but in God’s timing, it was perfection. I played my best for Him. Pa rum pum pum pum.
I can’t tell you what an honor it was to do this for the family, for Laura. Though sobering and difficult, there is something about working in the gifts God has given us. I pray that tonight, at her memorial, the words I wrote will touch those who loved her, not because I wrote them but because she lives in them. I pray that I captured the Laura who lived. I pray that she smiles at me just as Jesus, the baby, smiled at the little drummer boy. Then He smiled at me. Pa rum pum pum pum.
Rest in peace dear Laura.