My friend Becky's daughter, Brooke, died Friday, September 25th.
She was 22 years old.
Brooke fought a valiant battle with a rare muscular cancer. It was painful. She was a vibrant, energetic, absolutely beautiful girl with so much life.
We prayed and prayed and fasted and prayed some more.
Hundreds of people prayed and fasted and prayed some more.
We said goodbye to Brooke at church on Monday the 28th.
Her body was tired and death was a merciful deliverance. A very severe mercy. One I cannot understand nor begin to comprehend. Her family has already had to endure the loss of Brooke's dad a few years ago.
I have repeatedly spoken to God about the fact that it must be very hard for Ashley and Mitchell, Brooke's siblings, to believe that he loves them, considering the huge loss that has washed over them. Becky has a huge faith. Faith large enough to move mountains. But Ashley and Mitchell are still kids. Hurting kids. I love them, even if they aren't close by, hang out with the family on a regular basis kids. I love them deeply. I don't know what to do to help, since there is nothing to do to make things better. Go by and make them some chicken soup and bread every once in a while. Keep on praying. Pray that despite all the horrible circumstances in their life they would somehow know that they are loved.
When grieving over the loss of Brooke I kept thinking of the different hymns we used to sing back in my childhood in the little country church. Hymns written back in the days before antibiotics and chemo and prenatal wards. Songs about crossing the river Jordan, about a land far away, joining our loved ones over on the other side. Hymns written by mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers who had experienced loss and grief.
Their music voiced hope that welled up even in the middle of the darkest pain.
Here is a hymn that has comforted me many many times.
"Be Still My Soul" by Catharina von Schlegel
Be still, my soul. the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly Friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still my soul; thy God doth undertake
to Guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul' thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all he takes away.
Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
Catharine von Schlegel, 1752 tune Finlandia
You can hear Libera perform this hymn on YouTube. I think I need to pull out the hymnal and sing it out in the hayfield tomorrow. And continue to pray for the Smith family. I will miss seeing Brooke's mischievous grin and hearing her laugh. I will miss her dear sweet and sassy self. I will be happy to see her on the other side.