To say that the last 6 months of my life have been easy would be a complete understatement. In fact, I’d say that they have probably been the some of the most challenging to date.
Starting off senior year with a high of excitement and joy to experience everything that came along with the next several months was thrilling. Simply I could not believe the time for all of this change was coming, but there was so much good to come down the road which made me very eager to jump in.
Little did I know that only three days into the routine of school, our SJA community would lose a beautiful member of our family. Losing Izzy Ford was tragic. I personally did not know her and I won’t sit here and act like I did, but it was so apparent by the number of students in Adoration chapels the night of her passing and at Mass the following morning that she had a profound impact. The next couple of days were really hard. Each person was facing their own emotions in a different way as the excitement of the new school year had diminish and our community was deeply hurting. Upon hearing stories of Izzy, hugging, praying with, and simply being with friends I saw the depths of what community means. The way people came together to support one another was absolutely incredible.
At this time I was experiencing a lot of emotions myself. I just couldn’t understand why something like this would happen, much less watch people who are very important to me suffer deeply as well. In these days of confusion and sorrow, my Apologetics teacher shared Psalm 13 with my class. The verses reflect a “Prayer for Help in Trouble” and go through the stages of questioning, asking, and praising through our hurts. This Psalm stuck out to me greatly, but little did I know the power it would have in my life in the upcoming months.
As the weeks progressed, the grief and pain grew lighter, yet it still lingered as each little moment seemed to be a reminder of how precious life truly is. Things seemed to be more “normal” for me and I was able to enjoy my year with a changed perspective on how I chose to interact with other people to be more intentional.
Everything was going great, and then my grandpa, Bill, who was battling lung cancer, had started to rapidly decline. The past year had been tough on him already, but this go around was pretty detrimental. I remember my mom telling October 24th that he probably wasn’t going to make it through the night and with my grandma by his side at the hospital, I wasn’t sure what to text her knowing this would be my last Earthly communication will Bill. After pondering, I knew the only words I could send were His and not mine so I forwarded her the song “The Blessing” by Elevation Worship in hopes that the Lord would welcome Bill home.
A couple hours later, Bill passed. That following day I didn’t have much emotion because I simply just couldn’t understand that after years of him suffering he was gone and that a lot in my life would be changing quickly because of it. It was a hard experience of grief, but I felt very supported by people who reached out offering their prayers and condolences.
Just 15 days later, I was told that my beloved Kindergarten teacher and family friend, Linda Hopfinger, had just passed away due to complications from ALS. At that moment, my heart sunk and I didn’t know what to do. It was so unexpected and as I was still grieving from the loss of my grandpa, this one made the cut deeper.
I felt numb. I felt like I needed to cry, but couldn’t because the emotions were so so deep. I felt like I couldn’t express my emotion because everyone else around me wasn’t feeling the same.
Even though I felt like I was alone, I was not alone.
I was not alone when a mentor took 2 hours out of her day to intentionally listen to me and help me understand that it was truly okay that I was not okay.
I was not alone when my best friend noticed that I was really struggling and without hesitation said “I will carry you on my mat” (just as we had heard a talk about companionship through the paralytic man’s story earlier that day).
These profound moments, and others not listed, made me feel supported. The Lord set these people along my path to walk with me through the trials and it was so beautiful to watch it all play out. Despite my grief and doubts, He immensely blessed me. Through the sufferings He brought me closer to Him and showed me His goodness.
Since these months of deep sorrow, my relationships with others and especially God have been strengthened more than I thought possible. And even though they included my lowest and most challenging moments to date, I wouldn’t change them. I wouldn’t change them because without these sufferings and other moments not listed, I would not be able to experience the love of God through others and the goodness of His graces the way I do now. And for that I am so thankful.
Thankful for the ways God is showing Himself to me still. Since my Grandpa Bill donated his body to science we just laid his ashes to rest last weekend. When they were placed in their spot at the mausoleum, my grandpa’s tomb just so happened to be directly under Dylan Garnett’s spot. Another young person lost too soon. Truly, the Lord is always working for good. He is always with me and reminding me of His presence.