No one is the Same

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Today Sarah visited home for the first time since the stroke. If you are not familiar with Sarah's story read here and here.

I plopped down beside her and I watched her eyes dart back and forth, they always seem shockingly peaceful. She seemed settled in the place she had last felt normal. Her feet kicked up on her coffee table and her kids running around laughing and wrestling, completely at ease with the new normal, their silent present mom and her wheel chair off to the side.

I remembered the last time we sat together in her living room but it was too unthinkable... all that had changed, so I quickly pushed the memory away.  Sarah used to lure me over to her house at the witching hour with the promise of a deep talk and a glass of wine, while our kids ran in and out the back door fighting over nerf guns. And for just one second today it all felt eerily normal again... minus the wine and her words and her hair.... (we all miss her hair, though her Ann Hathaway pixie is sassy and right for now.)

I've been waiting to write this letter to her, until she could read it for herself. But today, seeing her at home, it feels right.

Dear Sarah,

While you were gone... we all changed. And you need to know us now on the other side of all of this.

Your Mom:

The day after hell broke loose in Austin, I picked her up at the airport and she said these words, "Maybe Sarah will let me take care of here now." God had prepared her to sit in lonely rooms and hold your hand while she waited for your eyes to open. She tasted life without you and wanted nothing more than for you to come back, even if that meant you would never be the same. She fought for you. She wanted your little independent spirit to rest while she took care of you and we all watched and worshiped as a momma took care of her girl. She was proud and sure and never one day quit trusting God. The day we thought you would die, she stroked my hair and said, "Jennie- you trust God. He is in control and if he wants to take Sarah then He has a plan."

Your Dad:

Your daddy was brave. He held his place in waiting rooms and over your bedside and with lawyers and doctors. He cried because it was right to cry. And then we watched him fight for you. Every hard dark part of this war- he has been your protector, quietly standing guard, lest anyone not care for his daughter in the most noble ways.

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Your Brother:

Joel took his place beside your Dad. He prayed and wept. He promised to take care of you and part of that promise  is why he is moving his 4 kids and wife to Austin to be close to you. Your brother, who none of us knew became family outside of your hospital room.

Your Kids:

No children should have to suffer the way that they have. But Sarah, you want them to know God and so often it is through the darkness that we find him. Will has an inner strength and the first time he saw you after the stroke, when you could not move yet or speak, he told you about his day at school and he looked you in the eye and he brought you a flower... and beside him, Ava painted your fingernails purple. Ava has your independence and spunk and she announced at school that God is healing her mom. She is brave and strong and deep. And as Halle learns to say Mama and turtle and outside... she looks at your eyes to watch for your cue. She can read you. They are learning to trust God when all hell has broken loose.

Jan(your mother-in-law):

Jan stopped her life on that day and took her place to care for the kids beside Greg. She kept saying, "I know this is where Sarah would want me." And she stayed and stayed and stayed until you could get back close to them. Her surrender to God and to her grand babies was perhaps the most sacrificial love we had ever seen.

All who knew you:

prayed and served and read and waited and cried and loved. The world will never again see meal calenders fill up faster and prayer spread further. It felt like the whole world was praying and cooking and cheering with us through the darkest parts.

Your best friends:

became best friends. You had picked up quite a few of us and we were all so different and while you were gone we fell in love with each other. We've been to war now and there is no breaking us up. Barely a day goes by without dozens of texts to each other- mostly about you but our little text sisterhood has adopted a baby, and almost adopted another, walked through job changes, shouldered difficulties in marriage, written a book, weathered ER trips and on and on.

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And every one us tasted God and death and fear and hope and joy and pain like we'd never tasted. And no one is the same. We love God more and want heaven more and seek deeper friendships and more purposeful lives... all because of you. No one has ever preached a louder sermon without saying a word, my friend. Your courage and peace still moves us every day. And it seems none of us are going anywhere. So you are stuck with the new "us".

We love you friend.