And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on glory's side
And fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live
It is hard to believe that Kelsey is a year into her eternal celebration of her Creator, Redeemer, and Friend. I suppose it will all even out in eternity, but I imagine, given her competitive nature, Kelsey will be giving others of us a hard time when we make it to heaven, because she has been praising Jesus in person longer than we have. :-)
So many thoughts have been going through my head over the past week. As we celebrated Independence Day yesterday, I was struck as I realized for the first time on Independence Day, Kelsey is no longer a citizen of the United States, but her citizenship is fully and completely in heaven.
Thinking back on the events surrounding her death: her love for her nurses and friends who came to visit her and who were unable to be there in person, her desire to have beautiful music playing whenever conversations were not happening, the silly times of laughter, and the moments of sharing tears, I cannot help but think how much Kelsey is enjoying perfection. Knowing others deeply and intimately, praising her Savior, enjoying perfect laughter and no longer enduring pain or dealing with tears.
So many memories of the time I have known Kelsey have come to mind. I remember the first time I really noticed her, the summer after she returned from Lebanon. She had a beautiful glow about her: she had learned a lot and been refined during her time overseas and it showed. “Wow, now there is one special woman.” Little did I know, how true that initial thought would prove to be. Lots of prayer and getting up the nerve later, I remember the night when I asked her if she would like to begin dating. She wanted to take time to find out a bit more before she committed – I am so thankful she never looked back once she did. The trip down to Dallas for Valentines after two weeks of dating (I think I scared her dad a bit when we showed up in a surprise visit to her parents). Crazy times spent traveling back and forth to Edmond (she was living there and I was living in Norman at the time). Late night talks, her taking care of me as I recovered from Lasik surgery (funny story there when she thought a candlelight dinner would help my eyes and I ended up requesting that we turn on more indirect light), my first ride with her (me on a mountain bike, her on a road bike), having her ring made, giving her a ring and telling her I loved her for the first time before leaving for six weeks when I went on a mission trip and had very limited contact with her, coming back and being so surprised when she met me in Memphis and a trip home which proved she could stick with me through thick and thin, as I had some severe digestive issues due to some not so friendly passengers who made the trip back from overseas in my GI tract.
I remember proposing, and the pause which seemed like forever before she said, “yes”. The whirlwind of preparation, marriage counseling, and deciding we would buy and renovate a house. Then the glorious day when we agreed to be each others for as long as we both should live. The adventure continued with a honeymoon, settling into a house and making it a home (Kelsey was in charge of that – I was in charge of moving furniture, hanging pictures exactly where needed, and keeping the exterior of the house looking decent). Special times being in a small group and later leading a small group. Many people got to experience the late nights with us as we would have people over or go to someone’s house and talk for hours (to be honest, Kelsey was asking questions and telling stories, I just enjoyed taking it all in). Outdoor adventures: bike rides, hikes, camping (not her favorite), walks, picnics, kite flying and time at beaches and lakes. Eating (something Kelsey loved): great food, delicious desserts, some less tasty food (burned by one or the other of us or food poisoning at a restaurant) which was still memorable. Special trips: California, Colorado, Charleston, Dallas, Bed & Breakfasts, Branson, and more. Wonderful conversations, whether laughing, more intentional conversations, or just talking about our days. Lots of celebrations. Birthdays, weddings, the birth of Alexa. And sad memories. As my grandfather, who Kelsey had only known for a short time, went home to be with His Maker. As we tried for several years to have children and were met initially with no success and then a miscarriage. Another miscarriage as Alexa got older. Friends moving away. And then, the cancer diagnosis.
Watching Kelsey be refined throughout our time together was beautiful. Seeing firsthand how God chipped away rough edges and made her more and more like Him. Watching as she released her preconceptions about God, continuing to trust Him for children, then trusting Him for healing, and ultimately trusting that God was in control even if she were not physically healed here on this earth.
And so a new phase begins, one where I have to look back more than a year to find my last memory of Kelsey. Uncharted waters. The reality is, as long as I tarry here on earth, those memories will be further and further back (yet still very much a part of who I am). The reality is, this is my new reality. I am a widower. I am raising a daughter. I still have responsibilities and life must go on for Alexa and me.
It has been a long time since my last post. We have been busy, true, but there have also been times I have thought of sitting down to type but don’t because it is a bit overwhelming, since it requires I compose my thoughts somewhat (if you are still reading this, you may wonder if I actually did that at all this evening). The house we are building is coming along. Alexa has enjoyed going in to look around. She is enjoying her special nanny for the summer. She continues to eat (not quite the appetite that Kelsey or I had), although she continues to be picky (sounds a bit like Kelsey was growing up). She is doing well. She keeps me on my toes and makes sure the energy I have after a day of work is devoted to her! I continue to figure out how to walk in this unexpected path God has me on.
There are a few prayer requests which I would pass along to my faithful warriors. I am humbled to know so many of you continue in faithful intercession. Thank you for your kind words of support over the past few days by text, email, Facebook messages and posts. I know I would not be where I am today without your boldness in approaching the throne. Thank you for your prayers!
-- Pray I can find a wonderful nanny for Alexa for this upcoming year. I will also need to find someone who can come hang out at the house ridiculously early on Saturday mornings as I go to Bible Study Fellowship leadership meetings.
-- Pray I can lead our family well. Pray I will take opportunities to nurture and lead Alexa. Pray I can be the support she needs.
-- Please continue to pray for her salvation. Pray God will draw her to Himself and that she will choose to follow Jesus.
-- Pray I will continue to grow in understanding of how to walk with God and trust Him in the midst of my ongoing grief.