Letter to a Friend: In Loving Memory…

Hello Chris,

I’m sitting in the café where we always used to meet and share life together. How time would fly! Before I knew it we’d have been laughing, chatting, or wrestling through a hardship for a few hours.

Now I sit here by myself and I find that there are two emotions at war within me. Part of me wants to break down (and when I get home I probably will) with the sorrow of knowing in this life I’ll never sit across the table from you again. I shared everything with you. You knew my fears, joys, sorrows, hopes and dreams. We had the same odd sense of humor. I could just look at you across the room and we’d know what the other was thinking.  How I loved creating mischief and laughing at the humor of awkward situations with you.  No one can take your place, and the void that has come with your absence is immense.

Yet I also want to break down with the joy of knowing you are HOME! You are with the Savior we both love so dearly. You are spending Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus in His presence. You have looked upon His face. You have heard Him welcome you home with, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” How can I not rejoice with you?! The longings of your heart have been satisfied. The hope you were so confident in has not disappointed you.

I miss you, Chris. Yesterday I received some good advice. I was told, “It is right to grieve even when we know the separation is not permanent.” And so I grieve. And I know that my grief pales in comparison to the grief you family is experiencing. We don’t grieve as those who have no hope, yet we grieve.

Yet I just realized that as hard as grief is, it is a sign of great blessing. Our grief is intense because our love for you is so strong. You have meant so much to so many people. You’ve touched countless lives. One of my favorite songs (I probably shared it with you) has a line that says, “What is the measure of a life well lived?” This line has run through my mind a lot in the past few days. You lived, and died, so well! What was it about your life that was so significant?

You didn’t write any books or preach to thousands. You were never googled (as far as I know), never on the cover of Time Magazine, and the world largely was unaware of when you were called Home. Yet your deep love for Christ translated into EVERYTHING you did. You loved people faithfully, consistently, and were there for them in during the good and bad. To be with you was to know love and safety.

You were a mother who loved her children, seeing their different strengths and weaknesses and encouraging their individual passions. You were a wife whose husband was her best friend. As I watched the two of you together, I knew you actually LIKED each other and enjoyed spending time together. You accepted each other for who you were, embracing both your similarities and your differences. Thank you for being such a wonderful example of a godly wife and mother.

Because you loved people you were aware of legitimate needs both locally and globally and sought to partner with others to meet those needs in a way that brought dignity to the person and the hope of the Gospel. Thank you for having a heart of compassion that moved you to act. Thank you for instilling in me a deeper love for missions in its varying contexts.

Chris, to know you is to be introduced to the beauty of Christ. You had an impact that some of us only dream of having, and you never even tried. You just loved God and loved those he put on your path. This Christmas I’m thanking God for the gift of knowing you, learning from you, and being your friend.  Someday soon I’ll be seeing you. You’ll enjoy your latte and I’ll enjoy my chai while we sit chatting about the Savior we love, waiting for Him to join us.  That will be a good day.