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.
Leah: ARE YOU GONNA COME VISIT ME, SVEN???
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.