A few years ago, Christina and I were on a Mediterranean cruise together. It was a dream trip for her and one that I am thankful I did not put off. We had saved money to replace carpet in our house and I remember the sweeping realization about how much I would hate that carpet if I chose it over the trip of a lifetime with my "limited time on earth" daughter. She was two years into her cancer journey and feeling somewhat normal. It took me about one minute to realize the cruise needed to happen. She thought it would be perfect because we travel in similar styles and enjoyed each other's company without a lot of effort. A few days into the cruise, Christina had renewed some friendships among the employees of the cruise line. (Okay, so we might have cruised on this particular ship a few months earlier in a different location.) Word had traveled among employees, and it became apparent that many knew she had a rather lethal form of cancer. She received some very special treatment in some wonderful restaurants. She knew how to make people laugh and she loved so very well.
One evening, after a nice conversation with some very special friends, I went into a deep grieving process. I realized that someday I would be meeting new people and my daughter would be a memory. I knew that I would not be able to describe her and I would desperately miss watching her love people and watch people loving her. I would be unable to describe her in any effective way. I tried to picture saying, "Oh you would have loved Christina. She was funny and engaging and deep and she loved Jesus with her whole heart." And I imagined a blank stare in response. And I cried.
Now that she has been gone for eight months, I see things quite differently. Here are some gifts that have helped me to see that Christina will not be forgotten and there are ways to describe her that bring life and hope to others.
1. Her childhood to adulthood friend, Linsey, has started a blog about Christina and her heart for worship. She intends to use music to describe Christina's life and heart and their friendship. Linsey also hopes to have a worship service next year to celebrate Christina and her love of worship. linsey-fuller.squarespace.com Not here yet not forgotten.
2. Her babyhood to adulthood friend, Mandy, has just given birth to a baby girl and named her Christina Joy. Mandy is looking forward to describing "big" Christina to "little" Christina. Not here yet not forgotten.
3. My husband and I drove out to the cemetery this week and found one of Christina's newer friends standing at Christina's headstone and remembering. Not here yet not forgotten.
4. Little Isaiah loves to listen to the two books that Christina recorded. He pulls them down, opens them up, listens as he turns the pages and says, "Momma, momma." (Very joyfully). Not here yet not forgotten.
5. Christina moved back to Port Angeles--all because a young man named Doug Nevill was pursuing her. Christina became a vital part of our community, joined in leadership of women's ministry, and developed friendships with people that I share much of life with. So, so many people can share stories of Christina and I do not have to figure out a way to describe her. Not here yet not forgotten.
6. There are two other little girls with "Christina" in their names. One big sister of Grace Christina said that Christina means "Christ follower" and that is what Mrs. Nevill is. Not here yet not forgotten.
7. I recently went to India and had an opportunity to speak to a group of children who have at least one parent missing and live in an orphanage. I told the story of brave Doug and Christina and their joyful son Isaiah. I told about Isaiah who now has no mommy but has abounding joy. I told about how Isaiah is loved and created by God and his life has great purpose. Those little children seemed to love Doug and Christina and Isaiah. I am humbled that Christina can be known in India through a story and that her little guy Isaiah carries the same flavor of joy that characterized Christina's life.
My great fear of being unable to describe Christina and my fear that she will be forgotten or unknown has been dealt a severe blow. Thank you, Lord.