I woke up around 4:30 this morning. I know it doesn't sound unusual to many of you insomniacs out there, but it was for me. My internal Mama clock knew that at 4:30 am exactly two years ago, the nurses awakened me from my light dozing to tell me that Kayli was ready to go home. As I lay in bed this morning reliving all those moments, it seemed surreal and in slow motion. I felt as if I was on the outside looking into that room. I saw Kayli transitioning to Heaven, her daddy and I right next to her crying, singing and praying over her. I saw Faith and Hannah and Margeaux...all watching us with hearts breaking for our situation. In the midst of the most heart shattering pain a parent can endure, I saw hope. I don't know how to adequately describe what that means other than to say it is a supernatural peace that cradles your heart during the hardest moments.
I know that if God has asked my permission to take Kayli out of our lives at the age of 21, I would have resoundingly said, "Can you take something else? Like my house, stuff, car, money...not my people." He didn't need my permission. She belonged to Him first and was on loan to me. He knew the number of her days before even one of them came to be. I didn't. He knew what He needed to accomplish in her life. This is why we are created for His purposes and not for ours. Even though I know this, it doesn't mean that the gaping hole left behind hurts any less; it doesn't.
For the past two years we have tried to discover how to navigate around our family without Kayli here. It is hard. Period. She left such a huge piece of herself behind and we are so thankful for the gift that she was to so many. There are still days that I have to wear sunglasses on a cloudy day when I am out and about to hide the puddles of tears in my eyes. Family functions are hard because it accentuates the fact that one of ours is missing and the other units are whole. It is felt during the little moments...no more shopping trips with Kayli, Netflix binge watching, coffee time, James MacDonald sermons and discussion, Crazy Love gifting, late night talks, girly stuff laying around and the ever present smell of nail polish( and remover) in the house. We all feel it. We all miss it and try to make the best of what we now have. We remember silly moments and remind each other of how much she would have loved or hated this or that. We remember heart wrenching moments and talk about how brave and selfless she was. Her good bye videos are a treasure beyond value to us and that she took the time to think of us in this way is priceless.
I was talking to Caleb last night in the car while we coming home from the store. I was telling him about the hardest conversation I ever had with Kayli and it went something like this:
Kayli: (Tears filling her eyes, holding my hand and pulling me close) "Mom, can't you please go with me?" She was referring to dying and going to Heaven.
Me: (Tears filling my eyes and splashing down onto her cheeks) "I wish I could Kayli but everybody has to walk this part of the mile alone." "I will hold your hand until Jesus takes your other one"
Kayli: "Okay Mom" "Are you sure it is real?" "It is hard to believe something that you cannot see, but I guess that is what our faith is." "I will try to be brave and finish well."
Me: "Kayli, I have never lied to you in your life and I know that Heaven is real. It is real because God cannot lie and He promised it to us when we surrender our life to Christ." "It's more real, more spectacular, more phenomenal than anything we can imagine here." "I am so thankful that I and your dad and brothers will all be reunited there someday." "You are the bravest person I have ever known and you are definitely finishing well."
**Moments in this conversation were so hard to get through that I could barely get the words past the huge lump in my throat. It was the most unnatural, yet important conversation we ever had.
A few weeks after this discussion, Kayli ran into the arms of Jesus after being ravaged by the effects of her cancer. Her body had failed, but her hope and light for Christ had grown. Disease couldn't steal it. Pain didn't diminish it. Sadness didn't overtake it. She was sure and the Holy Spirit was her comforter and sustainer right up until the moment she was free. She died at 4:55 am after a 13 year long war against Ganglioneuroblastoma. I know I will see her again. I couldn't imagine not having this hope. Please take stock of your life today. Do you have this same assurance? Please take a moment and click the videos tab at the top of this page. Please watch Kayli's goodbye video. She tells you what life is really about and where you can find the kind of hope that she had. You are not guaranteed today...this is the conversation that cannot wait.