loss & transformation
by Cindy Trane Christeson
Published August 12, 2012
The date brings a smile to my soul. Aug. 11, 1981, brought a strawberry-blond, dimpled treasure named Amy into our lives and our hearts. At more than 9 pounds, Amy greeted the world in a big way, and quickly made a big contribution of love, laughter and light wherever she went.
The name “Amy” means “beloved,” and oh, how fitting the name! With the right amount of freckles on her face, and “little dickens” in her character, Amy also earned many nicknames, including Amo. As in “dynamo.”
Aug. 11: big smiles, big tears and big sadness radiates through my soul. Aug. 11, 1981, is the first date on Amy’s grave marker. It is followed by June 3, 2007.
I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing our youngest daughter’s name carved into a marble stone resting on the ground. Even though I know Amy isn’t actually there beneath those words, but is alive and thriving in heaven, she isn’t here with us. I miss her fiercely. I miss her more than I know how to arrange words to explain or express.
But Amy also is very much alive in our memories and our minds, and she beats in our hearts. Amy’s life, as well as her death, continues to influence and affect me and countless others.
Last June 3, we visited her grave’s memorial stone.
Before I was directly in front of the stark rectangular reminder that startles me anew each time I see it — I SMILED.
There next to the letters of her name was a little toy transformer. How perfectly fitting: a toy for a playful, life-filled girl, and a transformer for all the transforming that has happened in the last five years since the accident.
On June 3, 2007, Amy and I enjoyed hours of fun and deep connecting before our back left tire suddenly delaminated, catapulting our van through a fence and into the angry rolls that ended her life. In a completely horrific, yet oddly holy moment, I heard Amy say “Jesus” – and then nothing more. I believe that is when God tapped her on the shoulder and danced her off to heaven.
In that instant, I knew she was gone, and I cried out, “Oh Amo, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.”
God knew the message I needed to hear, and He sent it to my heart: “Don’t be, Mommio. Help take care of everyone else. It’s beautiful, it’s so beautiful …”
“With God, it isn’t who you were that matters; it’s who you are becoming.” — Liz Curtis Higgs
Her words and message were unmistakable. How I heard that reassurance is not clearly as identifiable.
In the twinkling of an eye, Amy was transformed. And in that moment, my transformation began.
Life as we knew it changed instantly, in a flash and a crash. The world shifted on its axis, and what used to be normal was no more. Instead, the process of learning to adjust to our “new normal” began.
Throughout this process, I have clung to God in a way I never had before, and I have been amazed at the ways He sees my needs and raises me surprises. Surprises in His tender presence, His transforming love, His desperately needed strength and comfort, and His faithfulness. He fuels me with His hope, and His joy. He sprinkles His joy on the cereal bowls of my days.
In the “bittersweet” of life, God is the sweetness that helps me digest the bitter.
God’s faithful touch is transforming me through the bitter to give me a better perspective on life. I see things in a new way. The trivial is oh-so-much more trivial than I’d realized before. It’s relationships, more than accomplishments, “becoming’” more than doing, giving, more than getting; it’s sharing and caring and serving … and bringing some of heaven to Earth today.
I travel more lightly through this journey of life, with carry-ons instead of steamer trunks of worries and “stuff.”
God walks with me, He carries me and He skips with me in the joy. We’re skipping more these days.
I laugh more. When grief exploded a cavern in me, God began remodeling it into a bonus room for love and life and laughter …
Life isn’t always wonderful, but it’s always filled with wonders. I try to taste the flavors of the moments during the day, appreciate the here and now, before it is part of yesterday. There is always sweetness to be savored, delights to be discovered, people to love and life to live.
May we live it fully!