There is something that takes place when anticipating the end of someone’s life. It’s a time filled with memories, bringing both laughter & tears. It’s a time emotions are heightened & raw. Stress levels escalated but so is our compassion & love felt towards the others that are also pre-grieving for someone they are about to lose. There are so many emotions & reactions to what’s going on around you. Most likely everyone is feeling the same similar set of emotions & reactions, however we all go through them in different phases. The thing to remember though, is we are going to need one another to get through the process & restore ourselves back as close as possible to normal. At the end of the day the result is the same. Somebody that was loved very deeply is now gone & our new normal will contain life with a bit of a hole in it. And it sucks.
I’m not sure if you remember or not but a couple of years ago I wrote about this amazing girl that moved in with me – no questions asked. She was funny. She was adorable. She made me laugh. She brought me hope, built up my faith, & became one of the most precious people in my life. She became more than a roommate, more than a friend, she became my sister. She had fought cancer twice & beat it. Last August she told me it was back. The third time in 10 years. This precious little full of life, God-fearing, worship leading, kids preaching, overflowing with sunshine, ball of fire, has been fighting for her life. Watching her over the last few weeks has been difficult & inspiring. I knew we were going to lose her. Yet, was still not something I was prepared to handle.
I’ve known since last August this time was different. Since I’m also God-fearing, I believed with all my heart that He can & would perform a miracle. I prayed my heart out. I asked everyone I knew to pray for her healing. I knew in August that this would be a fight. I knew it would be difficult. I knew that she would struggle. But I also knew she was a fighter. She wouldn’t back down. She was young. She was vibrant. She stood on the word of God with more determination & faith than anyone I have ever seen in my entire life. So surely God would heal her. And as sure as I was that He would heal her, I was just as terrified that she would pass away. That became a reality just after 10:00pm Thursday night.
I have been asked to share a few stories of our memories at her service. I could probably speak for hours about the silly stories during our fun times together. I know I will stumble over my words, & I’ll cry through the whole thing.
The thing about sweet Leslie though, is that she was such a bundle of love & life. She loved God with all of her heart. She brought boundless joy to every one she met & sunshine to every room she entered. It is hard not to question “why” she had to leave in such a painful way at the young age of 31. But she had ran the race, fought the good fight. She was a world changer.
My heart is in a state of turmoil. While she has only been gone for a little over 48 hours, it feels like forever. I know it seems selfish to wish she were here. She was in pain, it was genetic & would have been a battle every few years even if she beat it each time till she was 99. She is now dancing in the streets of gold with Jesus. Who would ever want to leave that? Why would I wish that she could? Because some people enter our lives softly but somewhere along the way they have an explosion of impact so strong, the shockwaves penetrate for generations to come. That is exactly what sweet Leslie was like. I will no longer get texts saying “Hey Rook!” (Her autocorrect changed “roomie” to “rookie” so it just stuck) After Church on Sunday’s, she will no longer give me her afternoon schedule even though we were no longer living together. We will no longer be able to discuss if we have a hankerin’ for BBQ. The list goes on & on.
I know many people find situations such as this as an excuse to blame God for all the bad, for taking one of my dearest friends away from me. Sure, the eternal question of why do Christians suffer prompts a million arguments from all sides. But I know the real answer is simple. We suffer so we can relate. If we didn’t, we would never be capable of giving a genuine hug to someone in pain. We would never be able to offer hope. Leslie lived with a zest for life. She loved adventures, she loved her people, she loved sharing her faith in God. She went home because she had completed the race God had set before her. Our pain in losing her is now part of our testimonies. I will continue to stand strong in my own faith, because she taught me how to do so even when life doesn’t make sense.
Leslie, I know you are happy & healthy in Heaven. I know I will see you again one day. But in the meantime, this life will never be the same. Thank you for changing me. Thank you for teaching me, believing in me & always encouraging me. I hope I make you proud.
Until we meet again,