I don't even know how to begin writing this post... My heart is heavy and I'm at a loss for words.
Last Thursday night, one of the most beautiful women in my life, and my dearest friend went home to be with the Lord.
Most of you know her as Jess, or simply my cousin. It was with her that I toured the countryside every Spring and Fall. Every December First for the past decade has been spent with her celebrating the arrival of the holiday season. Countless shopping trips, coffee dates, bible studies and afternoon teas...
She has always been a part of my life.
Ever since we were little girls, all of our school holidays were spent at our Oma and Opa's. In high school, I spent every single first period spare on the payphone talking with her. In college she edited every paper of mine, and visited me on my breaks when I worked at the Starbucks across the street from her apartment. It was on her couch, by her scheming, that I had my first conversation with Ryan. Secretly we both knew then already that we would one day get married. All the while she was in bed down the hall, pretending to be asleep. At our wedding, she was my maid of honor and was there whenever I needed help adjusting to being a new wife out on my own. She was the first one we told we were expecting our boys and she spoiled them with stashes of jellybeans and toys to play with.
She has simply always been there.
She is in the middle, I'm on the right.
Her and I making French Toast for Oma with my little sister, Becki.
Her and I, right before I started dating Ryan.
Out on one of our adventures when I was pregnant with Willen.
Most of you also didn't know that she had Muscular Dystrophy. She was diagnosed with it at the age of six, and aside from her being in a chair, no one would have ever known by looking at her.
She always smiled.
Her joy for life, and love for Christ radiated from her. It was addicting to those around her and never went unnoticed. She had learned something very important and her simple words will always stay with me.
"He is God, and I am not."
That was it. It was those words that allowed her the freedom to wake up each morning and live her life joyfully, and not caught up in her inabilities. They were her strength, and her comfort and her hope. Her life had meaning and purpose and it was for her greater good that she was were she was. And that was that.
Many of you also don't know that she wasn't only my cousin, she was also Ryan's. Here he is, the only boy at the tea party. She is front and center, and my sister in law, Rachelle, is front right. It sounds ridiculous, I know. She's had many laughs and has happily told people for years that her cousins are married. (Her dad and Ryan's dad are brothers, and her mom and my dad are brother and sister. So we share her as a mutual cousin.)
She was only thirty one, and it was so sudden I didn't even have a chance to say goodbye. Hours before we had been joking back and forth and she was only supposed to be having some tests done.
And then she was gone.
There is only one consolation that brings comfort and hope. She is with her Savior and she has been transformed into His beautiful image. She is free from sickness, and disease and sin. She has an eternity to spend in the glory of God and until I join her, I am resting in Him, and on His promises for strength and comfort.
"She is clothed with strength and dignity; and she laughs in the face of the future."
She won't be gone forever. One day we will meet again. And what a sweet, sweet reunion that will be. After all, we never said goodbye.