It was the middle of the afternoon when I received the call. The voice on the other end was my best friend. A girl I’ve known since kindergarten, the one who had been through thick and thin with me. The one who was about to walk yet another journey with me. She sounded calm as she said, “Did you hear what happened?”
Hear what happened? I had been in Florida, far from home, for the last week visiting family. This was back in the days before cell phones and texting, so basically I was disconnected from the world outside our annual road trip.
“There’s been an car accident. Sean didn’t make it.”
I didn’t understand. “What do you mean? Make what?” She started to explain. I barely remember anything after that. My parents rushed in the room because they heard me cry out. My heart felt heavy, I began gasping for breath.
“Two days ago. He’s being buried tomorrow.”
I was 1100 miles from home, it would take 18 hours to drive back to New York. I’d never get there in time.
My parents managed to borrow a credit card and some money from a friend to fly me home. The following morning, I boarded a plane, for the first time, alone, to say goodbye to my boyfriend. I was picked up at the airport and driven straight to the funeral home.
The rest of that summer I felt like I was stuck in molasses. I seemed to be living my life in slow motion. Everything was dull. The only thing I had to look forward to was going back to college to start my sophomore year. At least there, I wouldn’t think of him every time I passed places we’d been together over the last three years.
Being back on campus alleviated only some of the pain. I went through the motions attending class, hanging out with friends, and working. Not only did I grieve over my loss, but I ached for the life he would never have. I began to make a mental list of all the things I would’ve been willing to give up so that he could live. This list included my own life.
I never once blamed God for taking Sean’s life because I knew it was the thief that comes only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). I didn’t raise a clenched fist in anger and question why. But neither did I seek Him in my pain. I let the grief turned into self-pity and eventually into a numbness.
A few months into the semester, the university installed a series of sculptures by Suse Lowenstein. They depicted the grief of the mothers who lost children in the Pan Am 103 bombing, a tragedy that took the lives of 35 students from my university. As I walked around campus, I saw life-sized statues of women depicting their initial reaction to the news that would forever change their lives. I can imagine that they too bargained to give up their life for the ones who died.
Still struggling with my own grief I cried for both their loss and mine.
Then one day, as I was walking to class, with my head down, trying to avoid seeing and feeling the grief, I was overwhelmed with truth. The love that dared me to offer my life for someone else’s was only a glimpse of the love that Jesus had for me.
If I grieved so deeply for someone who was a part of my life for such a brief time, how much more did God grieve for me when I was separated from Him.
His desire to give me life led to the sacrifice of His own. He was ridiculed, beaten, and put to death all to take my place.
The lengths He went to to redeem me, to restore me... astound me. << Click to Tweet
I wish I could say that my life took a dramatic turn after that. I’d love to tell you that from that point on I lived a holy life, fully devoted to God. It wasn’t quite like that. It was however a turning point for me. I slowly started to come back to a life engaged. On days when sorrow sought to overtake me, I reminded myself of the depths of God’s love. I fought for joy. The “good days” became more frequent and soon strung together into weeks and then eventually months.
In the depths of my grief, God expressed His love for me. From a place where I felt like nothing would make me whole, His love did. And that love turned me from despair back onto the path of life. My faith journey continues to this day…
Kimberly Amici is an enthusiastic and dedicated founding member of the Circles of Faith team. She is known for her creativity, strong faith, and commitment to living life with purpose and passion. Kimberly is a writer and community builder whose desire is for hearts to be healed, minds to be renewed and women to be connected in fellowship just as God intended.
photo from: www.honormonument.org