Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Loving Well

It's as much a part of me as breathing, this friendship she and I have woven together.  In and out, up and down, encircling us. Never ceasing. Never slowing.

None of the breaks, skips, or hiccups that usually occur in relationships. Not a one.

We came together so seamlessly I don't  remember what my life, my days, my moments felt like without her beside me, even in a figurative sense. I know it sounds odd, the stuff of science fiction movies and creepy music, but our relationship has been like that from the beginning. I wake up when something happens to her or when she dreams and cannot bring herself out of it. She knows when I've hit my bottom and swoops in to scoop me up.  

Even our night times overlap. That silly red sports car she drives in the non-waking hours? It shows up for both of us. I tell her geniuses choose green and she laughs. I am thankful to hear it so strong, so clear. Her laughter is the mix of all things beautiful; soft undertones of leaves hitting each other as they fall, deep echoes surprising even me, knowing where it comes from inside of her, the final crescendo of a snort, which starts the process over anew.  

Then I wake up, check the phone for the familiar green blink in the upper right hand corner that signals all is right with the world.  I blindly feel for our necklace, the one she and I wear together, willing it to return to it's normal twinkling sound that is airy and so much like the upper notes of her.  It is eerily silent.  It has been so since Thursday. God's way of showing me her stillness. Even the chicks notice, asking, "Mama, why are you so quiet? We can't hear you coming anymore...." 

We were supposed to spend, as we've called it, "the highlight of our twilight" together. Not apart. Not with her there and me here...I knew this was coming when we both stopped joking about it.  I knew it. I knew that Christmas would be our last one together. I wanted it to be so special for her. Jay and I discussed it, with tears streaming down my cheeks as we drove those snow covered Iowa highways. Our girl was getting tired. 

She and I have often discussed her purpose here in this world. She is strong, so determined, so filled with the Lord. I love all of these things about her. Sara lives out our God's desire to for her to be a light. He is visible in and through her. She loves people well. She is everyone's best friend.  She's a resting place, buddy, sounding board, laughing partner, encourager. She's so much more to so many...

She's the other half of my heart.

She calls my husband brother.

She loves my babes as her own.

I've tried to see the world through her eyes for so long that I doubt I'll again view it through mine; this is one of her many gifts to me.  The way I feel the sun touch and warm the crown of my head, taking a moment to close my eyes and lean into the breeze and find the beauty in the simple. A gift from her. I could name a thousand gifts alone that come from our familyship as she has named it, but perhaps the greatest of all is one that cannot be named. One only felt. The wholeness of a love that fills your being and will not let go, even when time and space separate.

She has loved me well, and to do the same for her, I had to utter words that sliced me to the core. Syllables in a chain that have since doubled me in two with the deep grief that comes with silent, wracking sobs. Loving her well meant letting her go.

"...I'm praying for you. I asked Jason (last night) to start asking God to release you from this world. It seems like an odd prayer request for someone whom you love more than life, but I think it's time that I asked him to join me in the request to our God.  I know you're never complaining, but this world is making you weary and closing in..."

And her response

."...but I know that prayer can't be an easy one for you... because I know who you are to me - you're everything - and it would be so hard for me to let you go. but I imagine me there with you all the time. my hand on your shoulder every day, and it allows me to exhale. I do wish for that."

She is ready to go. Her purpose here finished, or maybe just begun. I've watched twitter and blogs go insane with her words, her contagious enthusiasm, her joy. Her family has surrounded her. Everyone who knows Sara is stronger, better, more beautiful in spirit.  We listen more closely, hug more readily, really let people in to our hearts. Loving others as our Father does, without judgement. Loving them well.

She's given all of us that.

But here, in these four walls where her face was a regular on the counter as I made dinner and we talked via Skype, we mourn, we miss, we wail, and, as she and I referred to it, become all "welly" at weird moments. Liquid coming up from a place deep inside which feels as if it may never be whole again. The flip sits unused this week in the cabinet, hidden from view so my heart doesn't have to process what we're losing. 

Once again, my heart whispers so she can hear, "Run, sweet love, run to your Father. In this moment, may you be free, be whole, be healthy. May you feel my love...."


  1. Oh my heart. "I've tried to see the world through her eyes for so long that I doubt I'll again view it through mine." Yes. Exactly this. Sunshine and the smell of rain and the breeze and the sound of normal life will never, ever be the same.

  2. Nope. It will never be the same.

  3. ohmyheart...

    i love you, shan...

  4. .....tears fall.
    Letting go hurts so much.

  5. So touching. Your friendship was a beautiful thing for all to see. Praying for you and your family.

  6. Thanks, all...if I knew how to use comment moderation that would work better :) Alece, you'll need to teach me. Jo Ann, thanks for the prayer. Letting go does hurt, so,so much.

  7. Oh Shannon... my heart is in my throat and I am stifling sobs so as to not startle my son. I have prayed so steadfastly for your heart, all of your hearts. As big as my grief feels, I can only imagine the utter state of mourning you are in. I love the way you love her and it is evident in everything she thought the world of you... thank you for blessing us with this beautifully crafted canvas of our friend.

  8. Shannon,

    I seldom comment on the blogs I read, but I couldn't let Sara go (and now you) without telling you how profoundly blessed I have been to read what each of you has written. I also have a such a friend, one that sticks closer than a brother regardless of the miles that separate. Folks say of us, "When one cries, the other's nose runs." My heart aches for yours because I know it would tear my heart in half to lose her. "Familyship" is such a perfect term!

    May God strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, and may Sara be engulfed in peace as she runs -- no, dances -- to the Father.

  9. What a beautiful friendship, a gift from God to you both. It must be like it would be to lose one of my sisters. I can't imagine your grief.

    Thank you for loving her and opening yourself to her love even though you knew this might be the result. Thank you for not protecting yourself by keeping her at arm's length. It makes me all welly even to think of you all Skyping as you cooked, let alone all the rest of it. Yes, "familyship."

    Thank you for your gracious answer to my e-mail, too. I haven't had a chance to respond properly, but it was a most lovely surprise.

    If I could wrap you and your girls up in a big hug, I would. At least I can ask God to enfold you in His strong arms this week.

    Praying with you for her release,

  10. I am already missing her.

    Thank you for this beautiful post.

  11. Shannon, I cannot thank you enough for this. You are a beautiful heart and a friend everyone would be amazed to have. Your love for Sara is a great blessing to me. Praying for you, still, this week.

    and btw, your words are gorgeous...I so hope to read many more of them.

  12. Your love for Sara is how I even met you, my tender-hearted neighbor right here in K-town. My heart is aching for you, and for all of us who have been touched by Sara's grace, humor and courage. We are truly losing an angel right here on earth… and heaven is gaining a sweet sister. The thought of her living life without pain an in the presence of the One who she glorified every moment on this earth brings a song to my aching heart.
    Thank you so much for sharing your love with the rest of us. Praying for her… and for her family and all who loved her.

  13. "Shannon said...

    Nope. It will never be the same."

    Your words remind me of the Tree63 song "Never Be The Same". I used the song as background music to the slideshow we made for my dad's memorial.

    It definitely is a hard prayer - asking God to bring someone home instead of asking for healing here on earth.

    Take joy in the fact that you can begin to share what Sara might have if she weren't going home. Please share with us each new revelation.

  14. This is lovely...such strength and life-altering perspective. Thank you for sharing your friendship.

  15. So glad we are promised to be with our loved ones again one day. So sorry you all are going through this. You, Joy and her family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  16. So sorry, I meant to say Sara, not Joy. Please forgive me - Kelley

  17. Shan...I am completely breathless by the love the 2 of you share...thank you for this post, your heart so open between the words. My heart is broken for you...for her...for all of us. But as always, knowing she'll be free I breathe it too, the prayer for The Father to come and take her home.

    Nevertheless...the heaviness squeezes in my chest....
    love to you Sweet Pea...sigh.

  18. Oh, the gleam in Sara's eye as she spoke of you, showing me pictures of your beautiful girls, bragging on them as if they were her own flesh...so lovely. Your visit to her home last year was such a joy for her, your nearness in heart exactly how you have expressed here and in nearly the same words. I, too, felt it would be her last Christmas. She taught me how to appreciate a sunset ("You're walking at the lake? Send me a sunset!") and many other things I took for granted, like breathing and watermelon and leaves. And now as I pray for answers to her lingering, wondering "why, God?" my friend Jeanne so eloquently writes in response to my post: "Such a shining star isn’t meant to shoot heavenward until the full assembly has gathered to see the wonder... Praying that the stardust lingers and none of us neglects what is meant for us in it."

    Now if Sara could only paint that on a canvas.

    I will miss the peek she gave me into your heart, Shannon. She loves you big. She feels your love. May her stardust never leave your Clan. I am so sorry for who you've lost, but joyful for what you have gained.

  19. Thank you for sharing. The love and beauty in your words reflect a familyship full of love, honor and cherishing that is amazing. Even those of us witnessing Sara's spirit from afar will be changed forever. I join you in prayer and thank our Father for giving us this everlasting experience of His love.

  20. Beautiful...so beautiful. I knew Sara for a short time, but she changed me in just a few months of blogging together. I can't imagine what you must be feeling, Shannon, with the crying I've done for our little time together. You were family. I pray your heart is being held gently and your memories remain golden.

    I'm also praying the Lord will bring her to His side soon. What a gift she was to me...and so mnay other people...it will be good for her to be pain-free...

  21. Beautiful tribute. I hope she gets to read it. Sending you and your clan warm hugs from Texas. I am praying she gets a wonderful journey home.

  22. Dear Shannon, I'm the "Jeanne" Candy mentioned above, one of the many who've been ushered into this holy place in the final hour, and I feel like the beggar who received a last-minute invitation to the wedding feast -- like I'm witnessing a beauty that belongs to the intimate few, but that God desires the multitudes to behold. Sara is such a picture of self-less love, radiant joy, and the grace He longs to pour on us all, and I sense His pleasure on her as she finishes her race well.

    Your Sara has touched me deeply, and I know I'm only one of many who stand by in astonished awe as she crosses the finish line. Who knows what God intends to do with this? She flies home soon, but perhaps her light has only begun to shine.

    Praying for her and you and all who love her as you let go. May the Lord hold you close, and may you know fullness of comfort and peace that far surpasses comprehension.

    Grateful and amazed,

  23. Um...I echo Jeanne. I can't think of anything more to say.

  24. Shannon my heart and my prayers are with you both. I know only too well this prayer. I am a nurse and the hardest prayer I ever prayed was when my mom was on hospice six months after I got married and I told my husband when I knew the end was near that as much as I loved her I prayed that he would take her to be with those who were waiting for her . Sometimes I think that this prayer is the hardest and most beautiful when you love them enough to tell them it is okay to go home knowing that it will forever leave an empty place in your heart.
    I only hope to experience such friendship as you had with her one time in my life as I think that friend familyship is one of lifes most precious gifts.
    I can't make the pain go away but if you need someond who understands I do.

  25. Beautifully written.

    It's not hard to see why such a special bond existed between you two; perfect emulation of hearts for Jesus and His people.

    I am praying beautiful Sara home in His perfect timing. I love what Candy's friend said about the full assembly watching her go towards heaven like a star. Even in her stillness, God is using her to bring more people into the light of His joy. Praise God.

    Jesus love and blessings to you sweet sister in Him.

  26. This is just beautiful. Beyond beautiful. How much you two have blessed each other. My thoughts and prayers are with Sara, her family (including you, because you are family - I can tell from what she says about you and from this), her friends - constantly.

  27. Hi,
    I was introduced to Sara by Coloralady I am on her list that sends greeting cards out. I went to Sara's site and saw what was happening . I began reading her blog , it has had a profound effect on me . Her choosing joy everyday was a message from God to me..
    I am praying for Sara, her family, you & all of her friends . Your tribute to Sara is so beautiful, you are an amazing writer.
    Love & Blessings

  28. shannon, i wondered how long it was going to be before you were going to choose to put words to your grief. if you'd wanted to keep it private, that would've been completely understandable, but i'm glad you added your voice to the chorus.

    what a wonderful GIFT your relationship was, and when i read sara's description of it it reminded me of our Savior. He initiated a relationship with us just because of who He saw us to be. what you and Sara have shared is a once-in-a-lifetime treasure beyond words. so glad you responded to the Spirit's prompting and decided to befriend her. how could you ever comprehend what that decision would give you?

    we are grieving with you, as you can tell, but yours will be different altogether. that's what happens when you love immensely...you grieve intensely. but oh how much better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

    thanks for sharing.

  29. Letting go does hurt for those left behind.....she is JOY! thank you for sharing!

  30. Shannon, I cannot find your email on your blog, so I was wondering if you could email me! I am a friend of Sara's :)
    Thank you, misha


  31. oh what a gift, to have such love in your life. both of you...ohmyheart. I can't imagine a love like this. I can't imagine losing it...but you know, love is stronger than death.

  32. Dearest Shannon, My heart is breaking for you. Your words are so beyond touching. Just one more of the many gifts Sara has given us all is this... that through this final chapter in her life here, we all have gotten a glimpse of you, Shannon...and I think Sara would LOVE knowing that. Even though we may never meet, I hope to follow you on your own journey now...and to watch the beautiful ways our loving God will restore you and your family to the joy Sara always chose, even through this pain. I will miss Sara a lot, and I can't begin to imagine how you must feel. But I hope you will find comfort in knowing you have been such a blessing and joy to her...and that this parting is only "for a little while." God bless you and your family (including little Riley).

  33. came here to reread your beautiful words as i reflect this morning on the news of the VICTORY given Sara through her Lord Jesus Christ. thanks again for sharing, and for bearing the burden of being the one to keep all the blog friends appraised of what was going on. you did so well.

    just wanted you to know i'm praying for you and the family. exodus 33:27 is what i trust you are experiencing today and will experience in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

    i don't know if this is too much to ask, but if the Flip could peer into the funeral for those of us who can't be there, that would mean so much.

  34. Shannon,
    Your words are the beauty of the deepest, purity of LOVE.
    Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

    There many who ache with a grief. I can't imagine yours.

    Listen for her laughter and let it "well up your heart" with God's Blessings.

  35. Dear Shannon, thank you for these beautiful words, and for sharing the news of Sara's home-going on her blog earlier today. You are in my prayers. I will miss Sara's blog so much, it was a highlight of my day when I saw her in my Google Reader. Sending a hug from over here in Zurich, Switzerland.

    A quick question as a doggy lover: where will Riley be cared for now that his beloved Sara has gone home to heaven? thanks.

  36. Shannon, I truly believe that "Sara's Story" as I think of it, has only just begun. I only first "met" her in January, she is one of the first blogs that I started to follow, and through her I have "met" so many amazing people, yourself included. When I read your post on her blog alerting us to her rapid decline, I couldn't help but think of the tremendous impact her life has had. How she, like Paul, had a thorn in her flesh, how she was imprisoned, not by walls of stone and jailers, but by her own failing body. She also turned her trial into a blessing, showing us all how to choose joy in the midst of pain and sorrow. She was even able to turn being home-bound into a blessing, by encouraging thousands. I hope and pray that once some time has passed and have had time to process your grief, someone will write Sara's Story in order that her words may reach even more people! Hugs and prayers, God is wiping all of your tears!

  37. Thank you for your sweet updates for Sara. I couldn't agree more that she is dancing with reckless abandon at the Great Wedding Feast… He has turned our mourning into dancing. This earth has lost a true treasure and angel and I will miss her voice. Grieving with you and thankful for your friendship with her. What an awesome gift for both of you and your family.
    Blessings to you, Shannon!

  38. This post is so honest and so touching. What a beautiful friendship.

    I am so sorry for your loss. I pray that the Lord will comfort you during this time.

    Your reunion in Heaven one day will be such a sweet one!

  39. {{{Shannon}}}

    You are in my prayers.

    Thank you so much for keep us all updated over at Sara's blog these last few days.

    May Our Lord abundantly bless you. May He wrap you in His Comfort and in His Peace . . . AND Joy.

    Be blessed,

  40. Shannon,

    Prayers for peace and comfort in the grief you and your family are feeling so intensely. She was a joyous and wonderful lady, and I am so glad you all have had each other.

  41. Shannon, you are a very special woman and blessed to have had such a friendship.

    Once while listening to NPR they announced that a weekly contributor had died. I had never met or even seen a picture of this man but he was part of my life every Friday. It was part of the milestones of the week to listen to him. I had to pull my car over and sat there and cried like it was a family member.

    I sat in my chair yesterday and did the same for Sara. My her new journey be joyous. Thank you for keeping us informed.


  42. Shannon,
    You are in my thoughts and prayers.