I wish I could have just one more conversation with you.
But, honestly, I don't know how it would go if I were offered a chance at a conversation.
Let's be real though. If anyone should have one more talk with you, I wouldn't want it to be me. I would gladly give the opportunity to your sweet mama who carried you inside of her for nine months, and cherished you as you grew up into a beautiful young lady. Or, your loving sisters who held onto you through tears of triumph and tears of grief.
Sweet Gracie, you are loved by so many.
Your twelve years seem far too short to those of us who are missing you. I am so grateful for the promise of eternity in heaven with God and those who love him. Without that promise I'm not sure that many, if anyone at all, would make it through the bitter grief of death.
Because God is good, we rest in knowing that we'll see you someday soon.
Grace Evangeline, I remember the day you were born. I played in my yard with your siblings, basking in the sun and the excited energy that was in the air. None of us could wait to meet you, and hug your tiny self. I watched Rachel braid bread to take home to share with your mama as we all dreamt about what you would be like.
And ever since May 8 of 2004, we could not imagine life without you. Even though the two of you didn't have much time to live in the same state, Bethany found a best friend in you. She treasured each letter, each phone call, and counted down days between visits.
Nothing could separate the two of you during those precious times together. I smiled every time I walked into a room and found you two holding hands and grinning. Even though I would shake my head and pretend to disapprove of the mischief, I missed the days when I too felt carefree and could clasp hands with my best friend, forgetting that the world existed. I actually loved that sight, no matter what you read from my face.
I envy you, ya know. Joy seemed to come so easily to you. You are gentle, and loving. You always had a smile on your face and a kind word to pass on. Those actions are difficult for me. I have to spend a loooooooot of time with Jesus if I want to be nice. You are so good at it. And Gracie, your music blessed others as well.
The length of your life had no affect on the depth or fullness of it. You loved people with only a passion that God could have given, and the ripples of that love are still going strong.
I used to hate the color red. It's so bold, almost abrasive to my eyes, and my quiet personality. Red demands attention and I avoid the spotlight. Red is also frequently associated with blood. Blood typically leads to me passed out on the floor, and all kinds of pleasant memories like that. I normally pick subdued colors. Black is great, or a nice gray even. Something quiet that just serves the purpose of clothing me.
Your beloved red Converse shoes changed that in terms of my footwear, and taught me a few things along the way. You told Bethany that the reason that you adored your shoes is because red goes with everything. To you, the red high-top shoes were perfect for every occasion. I'm sorry that you couldn't wear them to Chelsie's wedding. She wore them with her dress the next week at her PA reception. I'm not sure how heaven works, but I hope you at least got to catch a glimpse of that.
We wore them too, even the little boys. We told your story to so many people who stopped us asking, "What's with the red Converse?" We explained the beauty of your soul, your loving heart. We shared that you were in heaven, spending eternity with Jesus. You're a missionary, Gracie. Your story has reached so many people.
We cried, a lot. But we laughed, a lot. And sometimes, we did both simultaneously. I wouldn't trade those memories for anything that a person could offer to me. I got to enter a world of imagination with Caleb and Josh, and see them sweetly love on each other. Mark and I reconnected after so many years of going different directions. I hate to break it to you, sweetheart, but I don't think we're getting married any time soon.
It's funny, but I think I'm still learning from you and your shoes. Not all attention is inherently evil, I suppose. The attention the color red draws gives me a chance to share your story, and the grace of God with so many people.
I really struggle with feeling the need to be put together. I don't want to disappoint God, or anyone else that I valued. So I do my best to put on a perfect face, and keep all of my crap together. Long story short, that helps no one. In a short analogy that may only make sense to me, my mistakes are kind of like the red shoes. They might draw attention, but they point the focus and glory to someone else. And, they go with everything. Eveeeeeeeen when I cringe at the thought of putting pink socks with red shoes, or (the horror) yellow socks. I don't have to everything put together in the way that I want it to be. I have found out that it is OKAY. Thanks for reminding me.
I'm not put together, and I don't need to pretend to be.
I can't believe it has been three months to the day since this picture was taken.
Do I treat each moment as if it could be my last, remembering the impact that words and actions have, and treasuring the people around me? You inspired my latest tattoo. Chelsie, Karissa, and I all have the same tattoo, tying us together and reminding us to be ready for Jesus' return or our deaths.
I want to let Jesus use me, just as you were open to being His hands and feet. Thank you for the sweet reminders, and the precious memories.
While we know you are in a better place, held in the arms of our loving Heavenly Father, we still miss you. Thanks for being ours for twelve beautiful years.
I love you, sweet Gracie.