I wondered if there might come a point at which this ache might pour itself out in words. I doubt now is the ideal moment. I have a three year old on the computer and a one year old stacking strawberry pieces on the top of his sippy cup. We've just finished lunch and there's only twelve minutes till the first one heads up for naptime. Not exactly great writing conditions.
The piano music playing in the background slows my day and turns my mind inward. Reflection, it's called. A part of grief and mourning. When sadness overtakes your day unexpectedly. How many times did I assure those who gently inquired on Sunday that I am doing fine? It doesn't even seem right that they would ask me that. I only spent a little time with Abby. Two days and a handful of hours. In all of her thirteen years. Honestly I can't really miss her much because I didn't really know her. What overwhelms me, then, is the deep, hard ache for her parents. And it is deep.
It has been three weeks now since my dad called at 8 something in the morning. "Steve and Kileina's oldest daughter was killed last night in a 4 wheeler accident." The tears came before we'd even hung up and I spent the rest of the day hoping he was wrong. I scoured facebook and the local newspapers online for some scrap of information. By the evening, though, I knew it was true. And I knew I would be in that church for the funeral no matter what it took to get me there. Dazed and distracted, I patched together childcare for Brenna, Daniel, and Carrie during the hours Michael had commitments. Then early Friday morning, Ben and I climbed in to the back of my parent's minivan and began the long ride to Ohio.
What followed were two painful days of anxiety, crying, hugging, worrying, more crying, talking, and family. Steve is related to my mom and is also friends with my dad's whole family. Those two days are still too precious, and even sacred, to write about, but I will never forget the sorrow in Steve's sobbing embrace.
Even today as I think back, tears come quickly to my eyes. I feel anxiety and tension across my shoulders. Not because I need hugs or sympathy. But because I want to offer that to Steve and Kileina. I want to be able to sit in their living room with them after the kids are in bed and just talk. Talk about what happened, what they miss, how they are doing. Talk about the stories that have been shared with them, the cost of this tragedy, and how they are managing financially. I want to bring dinner over so Kileina doesn't have to think about that for one night. Or maybe two or three. I want to take over four or five boxes of tissues for their many tears and runny noses. I want to stay down at the house with their younger kids so they can sit up on the hill while the sun sets and remember Abby. I want to take flowers to Abby's grave so they will see them and know that I am thinking of her too. I want our families to do something together that brings smiles and a little happiness, even in the midst of all of this grief.
But I live 400 miles away. And I am not free to go. The world keeps turning and I know it does for them too. Others will have the honor of walking this painful valley with them. Never, though, will I forget sweet Abby, who only got to live 13 years and who now walks with Jesus in Heaven forever.