Friday, March 07, 2014

Libby's 10th Heaven Birthday...

10 years ago my sister left her earthly home to go to her Heavenly home. 

Libby (pictured far left) and all her pregnant caregroup friends
March 7, 2004 my sister Libby was 30 weeks pregnant and traveling with her husband so they could celebrate their one year wedding Anniversary together (March 8th). Her husband fell asleep at the wheel and awoke just prior to hitting a semi-truck. Tragically Libby and their unborn son, Sam, died.

This event has drastically changed and altered the course of my life. Libby was not only my sister but my best friend. I could hardly remember an important event in my life without her in it.

Her laughter. her singing. Her teasing me. Her bossing me (and she was the younger sister). Her sensitivity. Her gullibility. Her gasping at the window, seeing something that caught my eye. Her gorgeous blue eyes and brown hair that hinted at auburn when it hit the sunlight. Her smile turned up in the corner... to smirk at me. Her pale skin. She gave great hugs. And whenever I would cry she would do whatever she could to make me laugh... even if it meant her behaving ridiculously.

Libby, me, and Christopher, our brother
September 6, 2003, my wedding day
I can't sleep. It's almost 3 in the morning and my mind is racing back to this day 10 years ago. Being at church together in a parenting class. Both of us pregnant. Me super nauseous. Her sliding a bag of apple slices to share and teaching me a "pregnancy secret" eat little bits frequently to avoid nausea. Empty tummies were culprits of morning sickness.

I didn't know it was going to be the last time I saw her. I don't think I even hugged her. We drifted off after saying our "love you's."

And it's not just her being gone... but how she affected others and how they're affected by her absence. The whole dynamic of my immediate family was shattered. Libby was our peace-maker... the mediator... the justice police. She knew how to make everyone get along.

And now there is this whole decade of things and memories I've done without her. Having five children. Experiencing a lot of hospitalizations and medical problems with my children. Premature births. Oxygen. Apnea monitors. my husband's seminary education. Feeding tubes. Cerebral Palsy. Samuel's cancer.  Movies and songs we never saw or heard together. Styles that have come and gone in fashion. My children's first words and teeth. Potty-training. Kindergarten and ABC's. Worrying about what foods to feed our children and who is going to do what for so-and-so's birthday. All the missed sleep-overs between the cousins... that never got to be. The christmases and birthdays and anniversaries. The Thanksgiving dinners and the family vacations. The Easter egg hunts and the trips to the beach house.

Libby on the phone while we were in China
talking to her soon to be fiancee!
My sister and I went to Beijing China together for a month in 2002. We taught English at a summer camp together. I was very afraid of the flight home. We had experienced turbulence on the way there and it had left me wary of flying again. I was scared the plane was going to crash and we were going to die. There's a video we found a few years ago of her telling me at the airport as I'm trembling with nervousness "There is One who is greater than our Fear."

My sister was always afraid of very old people when she was a little girl. I remember her telling me when she was a little girl that she didn't want to get old because then she'd scare herself when she looked in the mirror. She was scared of getting wrinkled but she was horrified at the thought of dying. In fact she could never say the word cancer. She would just say "CAN".

What's strange... and miraculous is the months leading up to March 7th her fear of dying became replaced with an anticipation of Heaven. She was excited at the thought of going Home to be with Jesus. She was at peace. She wasn't afraid. She had no idea that she would see her Savior so soon but she was at complete peace with the idea. In fact that Thanksgiving she mentioned Heaven as being what she was thankful for!

me, Mom, Lib, Dad, and Christopher
Libby's hope and trust was in Jesus her Savior. She knew Jesus forgave her of her sins... that He led a perfect life and died a horrific death in her place. That He redeemed her and called her His Own! Made her a child of God.

But it was such a shock. A complete tidal wave of sorrow and grief to lose her.

I didn't know she would die so young. 21. Forever 21. Beautiful. Pregnant belly, Full of life in her womb. Blooming into motherhood.

My heart aches. I miss my sister. I grieve her loss.

And yet I also thank God for giving me such a precious gift... to have Libby for a sister. To know that she is at home with Him enjoying no sin or suffering. No sickness or pain. That she has her little boy with her. And I know that when my time comes and when I draw my final breaths on earth that she will be there on the other side... waiting for me... ready to introduce me to Jesus.

So I'm sad. I miss my sister. I wish she were here. And I'm expectant. Anticipating because I have the Hope of Heaven to look forward to. And as I celebrate her life and remember what God did in her I will eat a bowl of lucky charms and have a spoonful of ice cream for breakfast. I will do some of the things I remember her loving. I will be kind to myself as she would have been to me. And give myself permission to cry. Permission to laugh. Permission to love. And permission to keep on living.

Libby on her wedding day
I love you Libby. There's nothing that feels adequate to contain my memories and thoughts of you. But I know Jesus knows them all. Grateful that you don't experience the sorrows of this world... sometimes a little jealous of you. Thank you for living your life for God. For being passionate about Him. For loving others. And when it's time to fly to Jesus... I'll see you there. On the other side. Til then my hope is in what is unseen...

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:24-25, ESV) 

As is stated before that passage:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:18-23, ESV)

2 comments:

anne said...

Jennifer, I can't remember exactly when our paths crossed, but know it's been a few years. I always love reading about your memories of your sweet sister. I only have brothers, always longed for a sister and the relationship you and your sister shared was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart. Your sister sounded so precious, so kind, so in love with our Savior. The pain is so hard, unbearable at times but what joy knowing she and her son are dancing with Jesus...and that Heaven is coming! And we will too know the joy that we cannot comprehend but know will be so wonderful. What a beautiful tribute to her and the way she has encouraged you {and others, including me even though I never met her} in your faith! Love to you dear sister!

Barb Reynolds said...

I see you wrote this in 2014 but I just wondered if there was still anything n this website. you have pictures of Libby I have never seen and such a beautiful way that you speak of her. I know there was a big hole in your heart but in the scriptures you used I know God has brought some healing to you. She was such a beautiful, caring, loving person. I look forward to seeing her and her little boy in heaven . Love you and all your precious family. (: