It has been a year. A year since my granddaughter Anna died in her sleep. She was four months old; had been bubbly and so alive, with a generous smile for everyone.
Anna’s baby brother was born just a month ago. She never got to see him, never got to unwrap and ‘inspect’ this new little one as her Mamma did when her younger brother was born.
It is the little things we miss the most.
Yet in it all, there have been big things. So many big things.
Anna’s life taught me so so much. I am a changed person because of her; because of both her life and somehow even more because of her death.
I will never forget one year ago today, waking in the morning, lying in my bed thinking about who was going to post on Facebook that Anna had died.
For those of you not on Facebook this may sound crazy, yet for those of us who fellowship there it will make perfect sense.
Any number of us had been posting and putting pictures and celebrating Anna ever since her birth. There was a joint community of delight around her, and now all of a sudden she was gone.
Who was going to give the news?
In my mind’s eye I went through the list of family. Alexis and Manuel of course, my Mom, Sisters, Brothers, other kids… and in a moment’s stunning clarity I realized that I was the one.
It rested on me to break the news. It was I who was to put a post that would say, ‘Anna has died’.
Now through the years I’ve always shrunk back from leadership.
Challenged years ago by someone in regard to, ‘who is the leader?’; pressing me to admit and to acknowledge that I was the leader; I never did admit it at the time, couldn’t bring myself to it, refused to acknowledge.
Not till later while reading Isaiah 3:6-7 did I see that Leader and Healer is synonymous, that to lead is to heal, and to heal is to lead, and only then did I accept and embrace and become invested in leading. Invested in healing,
And there I was. My four-month old granddaughter had just died. We were all in shock, stunned, grief-stricken, and it was my role to lead the way through the labyrinth of grappling this alongside each other and before God.
It was one of those crystalline moments; where it seems that everything of one’s life has been focused and prepared for this moment, this time.
That moment changed me.
It brought me into my own, into the influence I am to walk in every day.
Rather than an odd here or there moment of influence, I was to heal and lead as a manner of who I am. This had always been there, I just never wanted to admit it.
Until Anna came… and went,
An event so gargantuan in nature that there was nothing left to do but draw from the reserves planted deep within myself.
A week later standing on that stage at her memorial, speaking of Anna, speaking of God’s presence through our week, speaking our declaration of the goodness of God in the midst of death, it all came together.
This is our strength, this is our declaration, God’s finger in the movement of our lives cannot be discounted. Because of God and God alone, the sting is removed from our lives, and declaring this is the strength for which I was born.
Anna’s death was the catalyst that solidified the strengths I am to bring to the world.
I’ve never been the same.
Anna brought out the best in me. Anna brought me to myself.
Sometimes I think she lived to make me strong, and died to make me stronger.
And I know she somehow did the same for others.
Thank-you Anna, thanks Lord.