My heart is breaking this week over the unexpected loss of one of my students. I am still in a state of shock, as I did not expect to encounter this when I chose to work in the school system instead of a medical setting. I'm dreading going back to her classroom next week because I know that's when it's really going to sink in. Seeing an empty space where she once was. Seeing her teachers grieving. Realizing that I will never work with her again.
I only knew her for a few short months, but she made me so happy every time I worked with her. She had the sweetest smile and the most joyful spirit. Upon talking with her family and friends at the wake, I discovered that she loved Jesus and the hymns at church. Whenever they played the hymns, her face would light up with the smile that I remember so well. A friend of the family told me it was one of the most beautiful things she had seen and that she touched so many members of their church.
As a student whose life was not valued by so many in society due to her disabilities, seeing everyone gathered in celebration of her life made it evident that her life had meaning, purpose, and value. It made me wish that everyone would realize just how great a gift a life is - no matter what the package. Her life was a true gift from God to this world. She had an impact on the lives of those around her, igniting joy and eliciting compassion.
I am saddened for her family, but thankful for the gift of faith that assures us that there is hope. There is beauty in death because it's not the end, but a new beginning with Christ. She looked so beautiful and peaceful at the wake. I can picture her now in heaven, and I see her leaping out of her wheelchair, running, smiling, and bringing joy to all the saints in heaven. Jesus has his arms around her and she's experiencing such love and joy that we all hope to feel one day. I know she is free from the pain and suffering she experienced in her brief life on earth, and for that I am thankful.
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.”
- Revelation 21:4