Thursday, August 16, 2012

Letter to Leisha

Hi Sweetheart!
It's been so long since I've touched you last.  Six years ago today in fact!  In some ways it seems like yesterday, but in most ways it seems like a lifetime ago already.

I think of you every day, wondering what life is like in heaven,  knowing that your LIFE is full of richness and amazement.

  • I'm wondering what kinds of things you DO there
  • what WORSHIP is like when you are so aware of HIS presence, 
  • what WORK is like when you love what you are doing.

Even as I think of those things, I realize that even here on earth I have experienced His presence in worship and I do know what it is like to love my work.  Yet I long to know what you now know, seeing it from the other side.

This morning, Jerry Suter asked your Dad and I to come to share 'WORDS OF WISDOM' with the Suter bunch.  I remember when you and your sisters would come home from picking corn and share something that was said at the WORDS OF WISDOM time.  What a cool thing Jerry & Nancy have done there - with so many kids for so long.  Catherine was there, so was Jennifer and Ava and others you would know.  

Dad had to leave before the kids got back from the corn field, so I shared myself.  I remembered a time when I was their age and had been asked to write my obituary.  I remember being very challenged by the exercise to consider what I wanted people to say about me when I died.  I wrote that I died very old, had a husband that adores me, had kids and grandkids that love me dearly, do ... lot's of different things that make a difference in people's lives.   No where did I put that I would experience pain, or lose a daughter before she had a chance to grow old.

I told them today was your 6th anniversary in heaven. I shared with them the legacy you left me. In our conversation just minutes before you died, you told me, "I want to influence.  I want to say to people, 'I'm going, come with me!'"  Your words became a huge impetus for me to keep moving forward.  So I could say to people "Come with me!"   You reminded me that your favorite color means your favorite word, "Green means HOPE!"  You left me a legacy of hope- green hope in a sometimes brown world!

So I challenged them to consider what legacy they are leaving in their world.

Yes, Jerry cried!  You knew he would! I told the kids that the evening you died, I didn't remember all the hugs I got that night, but I remembered looking up into Jerry's face shortly after I got to the scene, and seeing in his face that he knew something about my future that I didn't know.  I watched him fall to the ground in grief, sobbing not just for you or for us- but for Tim and his family all over again.  I'm sure you and Tim have talked about us often.  Oh how Jerry & Nancy have mentored us with hope- and the ability to continue to influence the lives of others for hope!

Since Dad had to leave, I didn't have a ride home!  Nancy offered to take me, but I said, "I think I need to take the walk home!" She immediately knew what I was saying!  "Time to think, huh?"

It was!  Walking home from Suter's means walking to your corner!  The one where you found the Narnia door to heaven!  The last time I walked there was a couple of months after you died.  Jerry Sittser, in his book "A GRACE DISGUISED" talked about early in his grief, he tried to lasso the sun and keep it from going down in the west.  His sister challenged him to let go of the sun and 'turn east'.  If you walk into the darkness, the morning will come sooner.  At first I hated that idea!  Turning east from our house meant turning toward your corner.  But after thinking about it awhile, it seemed important for me to do.  So one afternoon, I walked your 'last walk'.  Down the driveway, past Richard's barn, across 696 all the away to Road 5.

It was an incredible God moment for me.  But also full of anguish.  I wrote about it recently.  ( I couldn't share it was too...deeply personal. But it's been healing to remember now.

I didn't remember the walk back from that corner then. My grief was so raw, the darkness so encompassing. But today I felt the warmth of the sun on my back, I was amazed at the brightness of the day and the lightness of my heart.  I actually walked around the corner and suddenly stopped and looked back.  I realized that my thoughts were not on the accident or your death, but your life. Times we had as a family riding bikes on that road.  (Remember when Brie crashed into the ditch when she didn't know how to use her brakes yet)  So many times we drove that road to church, or practice or work at Suter's!   I stood there and realized that as I turned the corner I was thinking of LIFE!  I marveled at the healing that has come. Six years ago I never thought I would laugh again, or know joy again. I never thought I would enjoy life.  But I am!  You are a big part of helping me get to this place!  Your legacy had reminded me to look to the ONE that can give hope!

As I walked in the door, I burst into tears and sweat poured from me!  But after sleeping for a while, I realize that it wasn't the exercise that exhausted me (tho I know I am not in good shape yet), it was the release of emotions that have been building over the last few weeks of preparing for the LEISHA'S HOPE event in July and looking toward this anniversary.  Just because I am experiencing hope, doesn't mean I don't miss you terribly! I do!  It doesn't mean I don't wish that you were still here, being part of our lives in a physical sense.  Though in so many ways I sense you are continuing to make this journey with us in spirit!

This afternoon I went to the woods to meet Tabby!  Oh it was so good to see her! I showed her the FAITH cabin (she was impressed- wants to bring her folks).  I showed her where HOPE will be.  She loved it!  We walked around the trail and talked for 2 hours.  We could easily have talked more, but she had a 4:00 appointment.

One of the things I told the Lord recently was that I was sad that I don't get to see 'new' pictures of you like I do Cait & Brie.  Or hear new stories of things you've said and done.  But Tabby shared with me something I don't think she ever told me before.  She shared with me that the evening you were on your walk, you called her and left her a message.  Something like, "Hey Tabby, I just wanted to tell you that I'm not coming to youth group tonight.  But I wanted you to know I was thinking about you.  I'll see you Sunday!"   Tabby said she didn't know what made you think of her, but the fact that you called her, and then died has made such a difference in her life.  She told me that often when she doesn't know what she should do, she thinks "what would Leisha do?"  One time after she got her new little GREEN Bug for graduation, she didn't want to get it dirty.  Some of the kids from youth group needed a ride.  Her dad just said, "What would Leisha do?"  She turned to the group and said, "Ok guys, come on, let's go!"  She even put the GREEN HOPE eye on some TOMS she had made.

I did remind her that from your perspective now, you would remind her that it doesn't matter what you would do.  What is important is what would Jesus have her do in this moment!  I also reminded her that you would tell her not to be like you, but to be the very best Tabby that God created; with all of the incredible skills and abilities and dreams that God planted in her. And Leisha she is amazing!  I love her heart for her family, for people, for the 'behind the scenes' of ministry.  I know God is using her in amazing ways already.  He used her in my life today.

I spent the rest of the afternoon just quiet in the cabin. Just resting! reflecting! remembering!

I just want you to know how very much I love you! How much more I miss you!  How proud I am of you and the legacy you left for me- for so many others!  Thank you honey! Have a great day in heaven today celebrating your 6th anniversary of running into His arms!  I look forward to the day I will see you again!

I love you!


  1. Dear Kathy,
    You expressed your thoughts and feelings so beautifully in this blog! Leisha would be so proud of how her Mom has grown through this journey of grief. God has given you many treasures in friends that are there with you in the pain and also in the joys. Take special care of yourself and remember "you are not alone"
    Velma Goertzen

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is beautiful to see the process you continue to go through. Hope for sure...we are not who we will be...and our lives now are not what they will be.

    Blessings as you continue to remember, long, cry, love, and hope.