In Part


I don’t even know who reads this anymore.  Today I decided it was time to update this thing.  I don’t know who pops over here or why, but I do know I want you to know the last entry isn’t the end of the story.  This thing looked like a time capsule.

For a day, or maybe three, time did stop.

God’s love did not.

Today is six months to the day Aimee left us.  Why does six months feel significant?  Why not five?  Or seven?  Seven is a much more “biblical” number, right?  Six.  Half of one year.  Though, seven months will be the first Thursday the 21st (the same day of the week). I’m sure that will feel significant too.  Then her birthday.  Then Christmas….

Today, I was nannying.  The same thing I did on January 21st.  Different child, but similar routine.  As the minutes and hours moved clockwise, I remembered the former day, and mentally marked all the ways this day was different.

820 AM, I sent an email to Aimee and a few other friends about a long overdue Ethnic food night.  Today, I was just finishing a run.

At 830 AM, my friend Melissa called me and said, “I have something for you to pray about.”  I thought she was going to ask me to move to Prague or suggest a job change.  Then she told me Aimee had been in a car accident.  Today, there was no phone call from M.

That day, it was a cold, gray, misty winter day.  Today, the sunshine blazes and brings record high temperatures.

That day, my gas light was on and I had to stop on the way to the hospital to fill up.  I wanted to scream my answer at the gas pump when baraged me with questions: car wash? receipt?  octane level? :  “NO!  NO!  NO!  I do NOT want a car wash!  NO!  I do not want a receipt!  Just choose the stupid octane for me!!”  I filled up my car with tears streaming down my face and rain falling from the sky.  Today, I had a full tank of gas as I drove by the same station.

That day, I made it to the hospital and was so confused.  The parking decks, the elevators, the slew of entrances.  It was  not made for those thinking less than clearly.  I ran into my friends Lima and Bird.  I already had instructions of where to go, but we stopped at the desk.  The elderly woman behind the counter told us Aimee’s name wasn’t in the computer.  So, I just started walking away where I’d been told to walk.  It still bothers me a little her name was not in there.  I think maybe the woman at the desk spelled Aimee incorrectly.   Today, I drove by the hospital on my way home.  No need nor desire to stop.

That day, we spent hours waiting, crying, laughing, praying, hugging.  Repeating.  Most people said kind things, helpful things.  Some people said dumb things, hurtful things.  Today, there wasn’t much said at all.  I played with a toddler.  She made me laugh.  I made her laugh.  They were in Bible study together, so I’m sure Aimee held her once.

That day, the song, “What Sarah Said” by Death Cab for Cutie played over and over in my head:

“Amongst the vending machines and year-old magazines
In a place where we only say goodbye
It stung like a violent wind that our memories depend
On a faulty camera in our minds

….Then the nurse comes around and everyone lifts their head
But I’m thinking of what Sarah said
That love is watching someone die”

Today, the song plays in my head again.

That day, we saw Aimee for the last time.  She was deeply resting.  Her brown hair parted just the right way.  Though, it wasn’t Aimee.  We knew that.  Today, I look at a picture of her.  I imagine her in heaven.

That day, I went home and searched for pictures.  I realised there weren’t nearly enough.  Today, I look through those same pictures.  They are still not enough.  But they make me smile nonetheless.

When I was living in England last year, Aimee wrote me a letter.  She mailed it November 23.  I left December 9 and had not received it.  My suitcases loaded in the British cab, the last thing I did before leaving the house in the pouring rain was check the mailbox one last time.  I asked the homeowners to please forward it to me if it ever came.  Aimee was so disappointed I didn’t recieve it.  “Oh Jessica, I’ll never be able to recreate that letter.”

Today, I hold the letter in my hand.

The letter arrived on April 11, three and a half months after Aimee died.  I picked up my friend Trish (Aimee lived with her) from the airport and dropped her at her house.  I made it about two blocks away before she called me.  “Oh, she must’ve left something in my car,” I thought.  I told Trish months earlier about the letter, but let’s be honest, after this much time, there was little hope left.  “Hey.  You have mail at my house.  A letter.  You need to come back.  It’s at my house.”  Or something like that, she said.  I knew immediately.  I turned my car around.  Trish met me in her yard and handed it to me.  I got in my car and drove to a park that I love.

I sat on a bench.  I had a hard time choosing which bench.  Today, I don’t even remember which bench I chose.  For a while, I just held it and stared at the  brown envelope.  I wanted to notice every detail.  Aimee’s handwriting, the stamps, the stickers, codes and markings from it’s travels to and fro, traversing the Atlantic.  I was so amazed the envelope was brown.  It was beautiful to me.  One of my favorite colors.

Then I opened it.  A plain white card, with brown ink and green circles.  Again, my favorite colors.  The stationery read:

“Now I know in part;

then I shall know fully,

even as I am fully known.”

I Corinthians 13:12

It was perfect.  Tears streamed down my face.  The letter itself was full of questions.   Questions of an unsettled heart that we all have this side of Heaven.  But Aimee answered her own questions.   Aimee answered my questions.  The Lord’s words answered them for both of us.

In that moment I felt the presence of the Lord in a way I have never felt Him before.  He spoke to me through His saint, Aimee.  He loves me so much, he gave me the gift of a friend like Aimee.   He carried a letter across oceans to get to me.  What a gift.  He knows that I love letters- writing and receiving- and chose that specific means to show His love for me.  Immense and indescribable.  Humbling.  Terrifying.

The back of the card had a little explanation about the verse:

“What if we could actually see the whole of our lives?  ‘Can’t handle the truth,’ comes to mind.  But what an understanding we will one day possess.  Imagine, we are fully known…and yet fully loved because “We are the work of His hands’ (Isa 64.8).  ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways accknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight’ (Prov 3.5-6).”

That day, I struggled to understand why He would take Aimee.  Today,  I struggle to face him and say honestly, “Lord, I trust you with my life.  I trust you with things precious to me.”  Instead, my words weeping before Him are often “How can I lay this down at your throne and trust you with this breakable gift, if you took my friend and broke her?”

It’s part of the journey.  It’s a painful part of a story that is teaching me to love God for God’s sake.  I know I couldn’t handle the truth of my life if I saw it end to end today.  He knows all of this.  Someday, I will know too.  For now, I’m filled up so quickly with joy from the glimpses I get along the way: the green of His trees, the tops of His mountains, the grace of His saints, the kindness of strangers and Aimee Elizabeth Powell.  Yet, I miss her.  I am sad so easily.  How do these reconcile?

“My joy is my sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which my laughter rises was oftentimes filled with my tears.”
Khalil Gibran

Right now, I head out the door to celebrate a dear friend’s birthday at a fancy dessert place.  Life goes on.  A truly happy life.  This year, the laughter around the table will be sweeter than anything the menu could offer up.