Tuesday, August 10, 2010

We Still Serve a Good God!

**Readers beware: When I sat down to write on Lacy's birthday, I didn't really have anything in mind...the words just came out. And while there is certainly redemption at the end, there is a bit of introspective gloom along the way.
Lacy, myself, and Amanda on New Year's Eve 2002 (just weeks before Lacy's death)

Today my friend, Lacy Jo, would have turned 28 years old! I imagine she would be a teacher--maybe doing some interior decororating on the side. I see her being married, surely with a little one by now and probably living somewhere in northern Colorado...unless of course, I had convinced her to move to Richmond near me! Her laughter would still make me smile...

It feels like a million years since I've seen her...

The days, weeks, months following Lacy's death were, collectively, the hardest of my life (thus far).

No one can explain why bad things happen. Sometimes they just do. But we have to trust in the good Lord and know that he makes all things new.

Lacy's death was a reminder of just that.
It was early January 2003, and we were sophomores in college. There were a few weeks left of Christmas break, and Lacy and I both had trips to take before spring semester started--she was headed to Texas to visit her grandparents, and I was off to Ohio for my Goddaughter/Niece's Baptism. I remember dropping her off at the airport with our friend, Amanda.
We jammed out to awesome tunes on the way to the Denver.
We took goofy pictures together at the airport, as young (20 year-old) girls do.
We laughed.
We said our goodbyes and our "see you when you get backs," and then Amanda and I left Lacy in the security line at DIA, waving as we walked away...not knowing that that would be the last time I would see her alive.

Fast forward a few weeks to Saturday, January 18th. Lacy had been back from Texas for a few days, but I was still in Ohio. When I checked my phone that night, there was a message from Amanda:
"Lacy is missing."

There were a few other words throw in there, but that is all I heard.

Confusion set in.
What in the world is going on? What does she mean Lacy is missing??

Over the course of the next three days, my life was forever changed. At first, all we knew was that Lacy's car was found parked across the street and two houses down from her Mom's house (where she lived)...and that no one had seen Lacy since she dropped our friend off at home at 1:30 am Saturday morning.

She didn't show up for work that day.
She didn't call any of us.
Her phone was turned off.

So many questions. And, at first, not a lot of answers.

The drive home from Ohio was brutal. Even though she was still just missing, my gut told me she was gone. I laid in the back of our van wheeping to myself hour after hour as we made our way across the country. We crashed at my uncle's one night, and he gave my Dad a deer head to mount on the wall of our mountain cabin--that deer stared at me the whole way from Chicago to CO, just watching me cry (funny the things we remember). My Dad tried to comfort me, but he knew it was bad, too--I could just tell.

When I got home, I went straight to Lacy's house. Her Mom was trying to keeping it light, trying to be optimistic, trying to keep the hope. Everyone acted like everything was going to be ok--like Lacy was just going to turn up. I welcomed the chance to pretend, too...it was a nice break after the relentless crying I had been doing, but I didn't really think everything was going to be ok.

The house was full of people, all gathered to distribute "missing persons" fliers around the city. I don't think I will ever get the image of that missing persons flier out of my head. A lime green piece of paper with a picture of Lacy, smiling--so happy, so full of life.

Spring semester classes started on Tuesday.

"Please go to class, girls," Lacy's Mom urged us Monday evening.

We went--the three of us, Amanda, Angela (our other "best" friend), and myself. But by about 10 that morning, we had all received messages from Lacy's Mom asking us to come over.

None of us wanted to go alone.

We met up on campus and drove together.

When we walked in the house, things were different. Instead of people sitting and talking and questioning and planning and sharing stories (and crying), everyone was cleaning. The air was stale and smelt like Lysol.

Lacy's Mom led us into her room, where Avril Lavinge's "I'm with You" was playing on repeat...

I'm waiting in the dark.
I thought that you'd be here by now.
There's nothing but the rain, no footsteps on the ground.
I'm listening but there's no sound.
Isn't anyone trying to find me?
Won't somebody come take me home?...
I don't know who you are but I...I'm with you.
I'm looking for a place, searching for a face.
Is anybody here I know?
Cause nothings going right and everything's a mess and no one likes to be alone..."

She told us Lacy wasn't with us anymore.

"Did they find her body," I asked through tears, wondering how she could so confidently make such a bold statement.
"No, they found him," she answered.

The tears didn't stop for about eight months.
In the days and weeks to follow, we learned a lot about Lacy's last few hours on earth.
To be honest, they were pretty horrific, and as numb as I am to the details at this point, there is no use in going into it. In short, Lacy was "pulled over" by a police impersonator just feet from her home. He kidnapped and killed her.

I really struggled through that spring semester and summer--so much so that I took the fall semester off from college and moved to Minnesota to live with my sister and her family for a few months. (I hope they know what an important time that was for me--thank you, Sarah!). Staying in CO was making it difficult for me to heal--it was too hard to be surrounded by constant reminders of Lacy. But I am happy to say that I did heal! Slowly but surely, I became more and more myself again...and God brought me even closer to Him than I started!

Just the other day, I was reading an incredible and inspring, yet tragic story. (It is worth reading for yourself: http://www.kdvr.com/news/kdvr-liver-transplant-death-txt,0,3369112.story?hpt=T2 ).

The premise of the story is that a man, named Ryan, dies performing an act of heroic generousity--and what really touched me is the way his family reacted to his death. Ryan's Father shared the sad news with the Ryan's brother, saying:

Ryan's gone, but we still serve a good God.

Nothing could be more true. Like I said earlier, bad things do happen...and they will continue to happen in each of our lives--but we still serve a good God!

Through my tears, through my heartache and my anxiety and my fear after Lacy's death, I never forgot that my God is a good God. Even when I was too emotionally and physically exhausted to pray and even when I couldn't hold back my tears, I reminded myself that I was just sad, not mad--that I was just tired, not without hope. My good God was faithful to me and never let me go.

He showed me, in new ways, how beautiful and priceless life is;

how I shouldn't take anything for granted;

how I should live each moment of my life to the fullest;

how what happens on this earth is nothing compared to what He has waiting for us in the next;

how He LOVES each and every one of His beloved children (even those who do very bad things--please pray for the man who killed Lacy) more than we can ever, ever imagine!

Life is not always easy. And life does not always make sense. And there is pain and suffering and evil in our world, but nothing is greater than God, and He is always enough to get us through even the toughest times.

This lesson has been valuable in my life many times since Lacy's death...and it is very comforting. This is not to say that I am not a total cry baby at times (I am...ask my husband...), but behind the tears of saddness is a strong conviction that God is in control...and that He will get me through it...and that there is a purpose to everything that happens in my life.

And there I find peace.

Happy Birthday, Lacy!

1 comment:

  1. I have read this post multiple times and I tear up every single time!!! It is so hard thinking back to such a difficult time..especially since the memories include seeing you so sad. I truly am thankful that you were able to live in MN...for your sake, not mine (I missed you too much!) I love the title of your post, and I went to that link and had a good cry..thanks so much for that!!! What a sad story, but a great message. Love you sister:)