Life Update: Olaf and Sven

Cliche: Life can change in a moment.

Less than a year ago, my sister Leah and I were camped on her dorm room floor, snuggled up in blankets and pillows with microwaveable Chinese food in hand, watching Frozen on my sister’s laptop. Two nights in a row — we couldn’t get enough of that movie. For the rest of the year, we affectionately referred to one another as Olaf (her) and Sven (me).

She dubbed me Sven because I am slightly obsessed with both reindeer and carrots. She was Olaf because she loved his optimistic and hilarious personality; honestly, I think he’s a pretty accurate snowman-version of her personality. When we’d GoogleChat with each other during college, she’d send “carrots” for me to munch and I’d send “warm hugs” back.

This fall, we were chatting about Thanksgiving break. With my class schedule, I had the whole week off, while she only had Wednesday through Friday off. I casually asked her what she was doing in the beginning of Thanksgiving break:

Me: When are you coming home for Thanksgiving? And what are you doing the first part of that week?

Leah: Um, I think we have the 26th off so I will drive home on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Do you mean the Monday and Tuesday of that week?

Me: Yep, Monday and Tuesday.


That pretty much settled it. I’d go home from Dillon on Friday or Saturday, and then head down to her college in Casper, WY, on Sunday. We were going to stuff ourselves at Golden Corral, check out a store called The Messy Moose, go thrift-store shopping, and curl up on her floor again to watch movies.

But plans change. The weather turned bad, she was busy with work she hadn’t expected. So we decided to postpone our time together until next spring. I went home on Friday and she headed home Tuesday night.

But God’s plans aren’t our own. Sometimes He just says, “No.”

Leah passed away in a car wreck that Tuesday night, just a short ways out of Casper.

You know something’s wrong when your pastor and his wife show up at your door at 2:00 in the morning.

God said, “No.” Why? It was Leah’s time to go home. She had served God well during her twenty-one years, and He decided it was time for her to come home. Her work here was finished.

But not her purpose. Through the two memorials we’ve held for her, my family has discovered just how much her life touched people. But in the month since she passed away, so has her death. He passing has touched people in a way that probably nothing else could. Who knows how God is going to use this for good — for His glory. But I know, I sincerely know that He will.

Does it hurt? Oh my goodness, yes. Especially when I think about that line “ARE YOU GONNA COME VISIT ME, SVEN???” and I realize that I’m not going to have that opportunity here on Earth. That she won’t be sending me “carrots” and ridiculous jokes that have me laughing alone in my bedroom. That Sven doesn’t have his Olaf anymore.

But that’s really kind of selfish, because I know exactly where Leah is right now. She is singing and dancing her heart out for Jesus, just like she’s always wanted to do. She’s at peace; she’s full of joy. She is exactly where she wants to be. Where she needs to be.

Maybe she even has her “own personal flurry.”

Someday, I’ll see her again. Someday, we’ll both be rejoicing at Jesus’s feet. Someday….

But for now, I’ll cherish the memories I have of her. I’ll move on, but hopefully not let go. I’ll miss her, but rejoice in the fact that she’s in heaven.

Someday, Sven and Olaf will share a “warm hug” again.


9 thoughts on “Life Update: Olaf and Sven

    1. Thank you for your words. I’m sorry you were never able to meet my sister; she was a blessing to all she touched. Yet her death has also impacted many people. While there is pain in the loss, there is also joy in what she has gained and what she has given others.


  1. Kathy O.

    Well written. I am in tears and I don’t know you outside of your amazing photography, but I have tears and a huge lump in my throat for you and your family. Sometimes there are no words. The ache is too big and the chasm too deep and too dark and the words just get lost. I don’t know why, but so many really wonderful people I know are going through really tough stuff lately. All I can do is fall back on what I know for sure. I know for sure that God is real. I know that He loves you and your daughters. I know there is an awful lot of terrible stuff that happens in this life and I’ve never been able to make sense out of it. In time, God brings good out of the tragic, but it doesn’t lessen the pain now. I lost my little redheaded baby boy ten years ago. Three years ago he came to me in a dream, but it wasn’t a normal dream. I don’t know how to explain it, but I am convinced that our kids are waiting for us on the other side, Someday the Lord will dry your tears. Someday you will be with her again, forever. But that doesn’t make the now easy. …more words in the chasm. I am praying. . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kathy, for your openness and encouragement. I know that my sister is waiting in heaven for my family; her faith was so real and strong that I have no doubt of where she is now. And that truth does make this time easier — sure, it’s still painful and hard, but knowing where she is now and knowing that we will see her again brings such amazing peace and joy that it’s kind of impossible to wallow in grief. She wouldn’t want that anyways.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My friend Kathy has so eloquently put into words what I am feeling. I follow your dad’s amazing blog and came here from there. Are you familiar with the “Faith Like Potatoes” movie? It’s based on a true story about Angus Buchan and in it, his little nephew is tragically killed in a tractor accident while he is driving it. The father (I think it’s Angus’ brother) has a beautiful dream of his boy running in Heaven and he meets him (in the dream) and tells him that he does not want to come back, but that “I am waiting for you, Daddy.” It will make you cry, but it’s so beautiful… here is the trailer for the movie. Whispering a prayer for you, your dad and your family that the Lord (who knows what it’s like to lose a son) will hold you close to His heart. Big hug:


      2. Thank you so much for your prayers and sympathy. No, I’ve actually never seen that movie, although I think I saw the trailer for it a few years ago.


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