Friday, April 11, 2014

A letter to Cristina

Girl on fire,
I miss you.
The easter festival is coming up for our beloved church and I feel a sadness mingled with the intense joy that comes with celebrating the resurrection of our Jesus.

I met you at an Easter Festival of old. I ducked into the ladies room to hide for a minute from the crowd. I was tired and cranky and it was a hot day. You had one leg propped up on the sink and you were fixing a tie on your weird MC Hammer pants. They were so weird. I decided to ask you about them instead of just stare at you. I'd seen you around, heard of  you, but never met you officially. You grinned the most brilliant smile at me and I was instantly a fan of you. You laughed that intoxicating laugh and told me about Zumba. I still secretly to this day think those pants are so goofy, but I love them so much because of you.

I didn't know that day in the bathroom that you would become a friend to me. A friend to cherish. A friend to share life with. To have community with. I didn't know that one day I would put a protective mask on and sit in MD Anderson with you, laughing about books and movies and nerdy things, but never fearing the end of our journeys. Because our hearts were set on Jesus. You never seemed afraid. Just so concerned with everyone around you. People became braver through their friendships with you.

I sat at the celebration of your life and marveled and wept and laughed and wept more.  I leaned against our friends and saw eyes sparkling with peace and pain. Seeing you sing. Seeing you dance. All those videos and amazing pictures and people. I saw your husband stand and hug one person after another, thanking them over and over, and smiling through his tears. I see him serve the community now with his strong love for Jesus and his strong love for people. I see the people closest to you working daily to fight the good fight. Loving people. Loving Jesus. Loving People. Loving Jesus. That's what you did, my friend. You loved people. You loved Jesus.

I never knew that the picture of you sitting on that curb would be passed around like it has. I had no idea that it would cause such tears while simultaneously spilling wonder across my heart at the fact that I got to be your friend. What a blessing our God bestowed upon me and so many. You were so good at making the person you were having a conversation with feel like they were the most important person in the room. I want to be like you. I want to be generous like you.

I took a hundred pictures that day that I met you. Snow cones dripping from sticky fingers. Hay rides, painted faces, and laughing children. But I didn't get a single picture of you. I wish I had. I wish I had a picture of you in those goofy pants, smiling that brilliant smile. I did get one random picture of your adorable husband. His kindness is always so evident. His wisdom far exceeds so many. I know you would have liked this one of him. He's a doll, right?

I miss you. I am thinking of you often. Especially as we celebrate Easter. As we celebrate the resurrection. As we teach our children about Jesus and his sacrifice for us. How even in death, we are made new. And we continue to hope and celebrate life and life abundantly.

I love you, my singing, little mermaid friend. The girl on fire. You don't even know the effect you had on people. The song Benaia wrote for you was pure perfection. You're singing. You're dancing. You're living.

It is we who are in the shadowlands. We are not home yet.


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