i have never not known robin. her husband and my dad had been best friends since they were 5 years old. my mom became their friend in the third grade, and then robin moved to their hometown in high school. this is a picture of my two mothers, taken last summer. something was wrong then. we found out not long after this picture was taken what she was facing.
i spoke to my mom this morning, who had been to see them yesterday. she said robin had one foot in heaven. she said i should call bobby. she called me a little while later to find out if i had talked to him yet. when i did call him, we spoke for a while…catching up and cutting up…he thought i knew…
my heart is broken. i am, of course, sad. i’ve experienced enough death to know that we will see her again, that heaven rejoices. i know my dad was the first one to greet her after jesus and they are having a ball together up there. but i cannot imagine a world that is more beautiful in her absence. that is, she made the world around her just. so. lovely. because of her real and authentic presence. hers was not a life absent from pain and defeat. but she had more grace than anyone i have ever, ever known.
she rescued me during my darkest days. she is one of the hugest, brightest and best parts of my own story. everyone who knew her has stories they could tell of how she showed up for them. always, she would show up. many days she would show up when i didn’t know i needed her.
i want my life to look like hers. to have as much grace as she had for others and herself, to live so fully into the heart of jesus.
today, there is a chasm in the universe. you may not feel it where you are, but you would know it if you knew her.
today is also my little sister’s birthday. robin was her pre-school teacher. they were always very close, too. so close, actually. since sarah hope was a child, she and robin had this deep and sweet spiritual connection.
i am jealous. i am sad. my heart is broken and my soul rejoices. intellectually, spiritually, i get it. i understand death. but i cannot imagine life on this earth without you on it. thank you for making the world a more beautiful place to live, for your investment into hearts and lives.
and for making the perfect love sandwich. xo
i wrote the following post on january 11. (this previously said april 1, for some reason – it was a draft, and that might have been the last date i looked at it, don’t know. i had just gotten back to tulsa when i wrote it after the holidays.) i didn’t publish it then because i didn’t know. i wanted to believe. i was holding on, too. but i knew when i saw her at christmas it would be the last time.
had a long lunch in my hometown that i love more than just about any place on the planet; to where i will likely not return for any duration.
lunch was so long and so good that i accidentally missed an appointment which was just a guise for getting there i know now, with two of my sister-friends who have lived just a little bit longer than i have. we talked about life and death and ducks and pandas and peacocks and things of god and drugs and dessert and diets and children and husbands and our dogs.
and we laughed and cried and talked loud and quiet about all things the way you can only do with people who, for lack of a better way of saying it, kinda don’t care anymore but only because they care so much.
and it was glorious and it was good. so good.
and they helped me catch my breath.
but noticeably absent from this day was a third of the four women who held up both my hands and pressed their faces low on my behalf, who helped me grow when i did but did not want to during some really hard and best years. (the fourth lives on the opposite side of the country now, which is relative when i live in the middle now. karen would be a fifth but is in my life, and in the lives of some of these, her own separate prowess.)
this third is also her own entity as she is the wife of my dad’s best friend since they were five years old, and she came on the scene when my dad, mom and her husband were all in high school.
i remember being 5-ish, and i remember being 5-ish because i have a picture of sarah hope and i standing on the back of the field on this day and i am scratching my leg in my white-with-blue-trim dress and pigtails. and my first memory of her is sitting with her earlier the same morning on the property of our ministry before she got married, on the day she was getting married to this man my dad loved more than anyone ever, and she just talked to me and my 3-year old sister like we were her friends on any other day. she was wearing a denim shirt and her dark hair flowed and she glowed.
i have never seen her not glow.
she is the rarest of beauties, the kind of beautiful that is just so beautiful you want to cry because in her presence you are yourself made more beautiful. time stands still, or you wish that it could and maybe it does, because in her presence the world is that much more beautiful. she is so filled with jesus, looks and talks and acts so much like him, in a way that is as natural as breathing because, for her, it really is as natural as breathing.
but only in the way that a soul abides deep on the vine, and has only learned to abide deep on the vine because of the weather and the seasons that alternately love and abuse.
this woman whom i have never not known was diagnosed with a horrible, gross, destructive kind of the c-word that is, in theory, supposed to but we are believing that it will not. this news would only be more difficult for me to understand or painful to accept if it were news about my own mom.
and i’m not sure i am ever more present than in the supernatural presence of such natural reality and i was on a holy day over the holidays with my sister and some of our cousins, there in her cabin that she brought and brings to life for those she loves most, and those she loves most are everyone she meets because she sees and serves and lives for and loves jesus in all because he, most assuredly, is in all.
and, also, the beauty.
the kind of beauty that hurts in the best of ways.
my friend, a mother more like a sister whom god used to gently love me back to life on some of my darkest days, and to rejoice with and figure out things of god and life – or not – throughout my whole life. i simply cannot imagine being in a world that is not daily made brighter and more beautiful and so much better by her soft and gentle and strong light.
so, we pray that the stars and the moon and the sun will not dim.
and we are only a composite of those like these, all of the above, through whom god loves us so well.
those to whom we can only pay back in kind with harvest seeds of thanks and they wouldn’t ask but we would, without question, offer up our own life if only he would allow but he already has done so.
this was going to just be part of a larger story of the things i learned while i was home for the holidays. i think i learned some things on your behalf that i will gladly share.
but perhaps this was the only thing that was anything at all.