March 14 1990 my little sister was born, Brittany Anne Love. It was a glorious day in my family. The other date that is sadly stuck in our families hearts and minds is July 17th 1992, the day she left this earth. Today my sister Brittany would have been 27 years old. It is hard to imagine that because she has been gone from this earth for 25 years. I used to think that her leaving us at 2.5 years old was so young, which it is, but now having children I see how much can happen in 2.5 years (plus an entire pregnancy) that has made me revisit the impact this truly had on my family. The other reason this year is hitting me harder than other year’s on her birthday is that my girls are pretty much exactly that ages of what me and my sister Brittany were the year she died.
I was almost 5 when she drown at our family cottage; like I mentioned she was 2.5. I was so young when it happened that I could not process what had happened and repressed a lot of it to the back of my head for a period of time. My parents then had 2 other children; another sister and then a brother. My new sister was born really soon after Brittany passed, so I had a lot of trouble adjusting to a new sibling, one who looked a lot like my other sister and I struggled with that relationship. Unfortunately, this strongly impacted the relationship I had for many years with my sister Natalie. This is one of my biggest regrets and something that I wish I could go back and change, and if you are reading this Natalie I am sorry and I love you and I know that you had many ramifications in your own life coming into the picture right after we lost Brittany.
When I was in my teen years, I was starting to rebel and my parents ended up sending me to a therapeutic boarding school. It was a crazy experience to say the least, but while I was there I began to experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from my sister’s death. (remember how I said I repressed it? well it was all coming back at 15 years old) I began to remember things I didn’t even know I knew, I started having visions and dreams of what happened; the best way to explain it was that all of a sudden one morning, my brain started to act like it was the day after my sister died, and all the emotions and memories came rushing back full throttle and I had to deal with it if I wanted to or not. Thankfully I was in this school where all we basically did was therapy so I had a lot of support during that time from professionals. But it wasnt until I went to Africa where I feel like I really dealt with it in a positive way. I met a lovely couple while I was on a mission trip in Africa when I was in my second year of university. They had lost a child, a daughter, when she was younger so we could relate on this heartbreak. The wife told me this vision she had. It was a vision of her daughter walking holding Jesus’s hand, and the little girl looked back at her and gave her a look that said ‘even if I could come back, I wouldn’t’ (meaning she was with JESUS, the creator, in perfect heaven and was truly in a better place than us here on earth) This story gave me so much peace and hope but most of all healing.
There are many milestones or times that not having Brittany with us hits my heart more than others. When I turned 19, I was upset that I couldn’t give her my I.D. so she could have a fake I.D. (haha that shows where my head was at, at 19 years old!) When I got engaged and then married and she wouldn’t be standing up there with our other sister beside me. When I got pregnant and had both my kids, they would never get to meet their other aunt. Today, another harder year, having kids the same ages that her and I were the year she died.
The death of Brittany impacted each and every person in our families lives. Now that I am a parent, I can’t even imagine what my own parents went through loosing a child. I can’t imagine going on one day without either of my girls. Not only did it impact all the people in our lives before she passed, it had effects on my other siblings coming in after her death, into this heartbroken family trying to move on with life after loosing her and find joy in the next steps.
There is a pastor who I came across this year, who had just lost his little boy Judah to a drowning incident. My heart broke with them as I followed them (and still do) on this journey of trying to go on with life after this catastrophic loss. What he said has stuck in my head since I read it. He said:
My passion for life remains, but my passion for heaven has increased considerably. I yearn to serve Jesus with all that I am and have, and one day claim the prize of heaven and eternity with God and my little man.
My goal is to 100% serve Him with the rest of my years on earth. His will and only His will. I commit to living my life fully serving the one you spend each day in the presence of sweet Judah.
My prayer: Lord, as the pain and struggle batter our fragility, gird us, surround us, protect us.
We submit our excesses, our temptations, our pretensions to you : transform us.
We submit our plans, our dreams and hopes to you : guide us.
Lord, be present in each moment, be sovereign in our life.
Here is the point of this post, not only to remember my sister today on her 27th birthday, but to say this: God is good, even in tragedy. Just because bad things happen doesn’t mean God is mean or doesn’t walk us through it. People believe because bad things happen, it is a reflection that God has evil in his character, this is simply not true. I also believe we view death differently than God does. To us a death is someone leaving us, we are crippled by the grief and have to learn how to live a new life without them. In God’s eyes, someone dying here on earth–they are coming to him in heaven. It is a GOOD thing, they are going home to where they will live in eternity. So what we see as a loss, he see’s as a reward. Someone once put it to me as our life here on earth is like ‘preschool’ to eternity. When my sister left this earth early, she went straight to eternity and as much as that was painful for us who were left here, she is the one living in heaven; with God, in a perfect world. As much as I wish she lived a life here with us; we live in a fallen world, a sinful world and a world that is falling apart if we are truthful.
So to end this post I will say this. My life was of course indescribably impacted by loosing my sister, but as I look back now I feel I can truly say I have peace with it and even though it comes back up and I will never forget it, I believe in the deepest part of my soul that she is in the best place she can be, waiting for us to get there. Like Rev. Mark said and this is how I am living my life: with a yearning for heaven; to live my life following after Christ and so that one day I get to see her again.