There was a storm that day. I remember it well. It seemed to come out of nowhere, just south of Wayland, near Martin. There was sun and then darkness. Furiously, it ripped out trees and damaged rooftops. There was a rage in the wind. And then, as suddenly as it hit, it was gone. The sun shone. The wet grass and pavement scented the air. People came out to asses the damage. Posts popped up on Facebook.
I’ve often wondered if He was displaying His rage, His sorrow. If He was responding to the evil that took you. Most of us still didn’t know you were gone when the hail came down that afternoon. And honestly, Kass, it feels like the storm is still raging, though invisibly now. It’s hard to hold onto that faint truth that evil hasn’t won. Because it sure looks like it did.I’ll never forget the phone call- that voice that said you had died before the ambulance came. I can still hear it. Her breathing. The worry in her words. I remember my anger at her, for even daring to think that such a horrid thing would ever happen. How ridiculous! How dare she go saying things like that! Yet, beneath my indignation was the nagging sense that she was telling the truth. She was not one to tell stories.
I cannot forget the way the ground melted underneath me when I called the church. There was silence when I asked. Then a weak and bewildered voice confirmed what I had heard. I ran to my Man in shock. Wide-eyed and shaking.
Oh God, no….
You’ve always stood out from the crowd. And yeah, your neon pink hair kind of played a part. But you- you were never a follower. You didn’t try to blend in. You didn’t do cliques. You fought for the underdog. You were everybody’s friend. You were anybody’s friend. Genuine. Real. Sincere. And smart as a whip. You’re the only girl I know who can rock out at a rave while loving Jesus with your whole heart. And then – still be the same person at church the next day. You showed me something I was missing in my own life. A trait I wanted to have. I learned a lot from you, Kass.
I watched your metamorphosis from a defeated pregnant teen, to an amazing and intentional mother, a stellar student, and crazy-hard worker. Didn’t you have 3 jobs while going to school full-time? And it broke your heart, because you wanted to raise your son. Your beautiful, beautiful boy. You weren’t going to wait for life to happen. No, you stood up and attacked it.
I saw the Lord’s hand on your life, Kass. We all did. It was unmistakable. You know, we talked a lot about you at home. In Sunday school, too, on the days you couldn’t make it. You inspired us all.The ways you grew, the people you radically impacted, and the man who loved you more than life itself… We all loved watching your life unfold. And we couldn’t wait for your wedding.
I didn’t believe it happened until I saw them there; police were everywhere. There was yellow tape across your grandma’s drive. We had prayed so long for your grandma. The state boys guarded the entrance to your home. He wouldn’t let this happen- God would NOT let this happen to you! He was using you so amazingly, Kass! How could He?!
Few words were spoken. The heaviness was far too much to comprehend. There was sobbing. Disbelief. Grief too overwhelming to describe. Your Knight, broken. And your family… Oh, Kassi. The air had been sucked out of our lungs. We could hardly breathe underneath the weight of it all. I needed tissue. I went to the bathroom to blow my nose, and there was your coat hanging on the wall. You would never wear it again. You were everywhere. But you were gone. It just couldn’t be real.
I think it was shock and the Lord’s grace that carried me through the next days. That steady crowd of people at your visitation…so many people. There exhaustion in your mother’s eyes; yet behind that, strength. The flowers around your neck. The glow sticks laying beside you. The choir that sang at your service. The community that mourned. Kassi- the church was so packed, there was hardly room to fit everyone!
I remember coming up the stairs before the service, trying to fight the urge to run. I looked through the glass door, where a group of men, your soon-to-be brothers-in-law gathered. One leaned in to check his reflection of the white car he was standing next to. They all looked so handsome. He straightened his tie. In just a few weeks, this would have been so different. We all would be gathered to watch you walk down the aisle, beautiful and glowing, in your white dress. There would be music, and cake. And a limo to take you away.
But that day, it was a hearse. And the brothers standing outside the door were not in tuxedos. Your Prince was not standing tall, but shriveled, weak and empty. There was cake. There was music. There was no rejoicing. Instead of a white dress, you laid in a white casket.
We have never been the same, Kassandra. You were the glow stick in so many hearts. You and your bright neon, oh- such a reflection of your beautiful soul! I know the One you put your hope in is bigger than all of this. He’s brighter than the darkest darkness. He wins in the end. Evil will not triumph. But it’s sometimes hard to remember that when I see your little man’s big brown eyes. Still, Christ’s light shines brightest in the darkness. Like one of your glow sticks. They have to break to do their job. Our hearts are dashed to pieces. The justice from the courts does not offer solace. But hope and healing come from Him. The One who made you so crazy cool. The One who has you now.
When we meet again, Kass, I want to tell you about the beauty He made from these ashes of grief. How he turned our mourning into dancing. How He used your death to bring Life to those you touched. And I want you to help me with that “ok google” thing on my phone again, because I have questions.