It’s been hard to be a weekly or even monthly blogger lately. These last few months have been especially busy. Along with the craziness that December typically is, with planning and attending parties, cooking, visiting family, Christmas shopping, etc. the last thing that I was prepared for was the death of my step-sister, Lisa.
2014 year has been the year of deaths for our family. I had never in my life been to a funeral, and then I went to my first funeral in the spring in Va for my Grandfather, and then Dan’s grandmother Ming died, and we traveled to Colorado in the summer, and then I got some very sad news about my step-sister Lisa on December 10th, that she had passed away.
Lisa and I weren’t as close as we had been as kids, but it was a huge shock to hear of her passing. The toxicology results are still pending, and they have yet to determine the cause of death. What we do know is that she wasn’t feeling well, and that she had been on pain medicine from her back surgery in the past, and had continued to use it for pain relief. Her medication usage, along with some preexisting health conditions (infection in her foot, diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea) and her general well being (her friend mentioned that she had recently had the flu) is the best guess we have for her cause of death. She was found unresponsive at a friends house in the morning.
It’s really heartbreaking. She was only 36 years old and had so much life to live. So much she wanted to do, dreams that went unfulfilled. That week between her death and the funeral was tough for me and I can only imagine how tough it was for her mother. It was a time of reflecting on the good times we had together as kids, the time we spent together as adults, and wondering if I made it clear enough how much I loved her and how much of a good person she was. I wanted to do something in her memory, so I decided to make Memory Boards in her honor to have at the funeral, and for her mother Rennie to keep.
I struggled with whether or not I was going to talk at the funeral. Those that know me well know that I am not very comfortable with public speaking. You know, some people have their gifts, and I just know public speaking isn’t one of mine. It’s just not my favorite thing to do. I much rather be where I am right now, typing my thoughts down on screen, so I can hit the backspace at will, and delete and restate the thought more clearly and concisely if I need to.
However, the craziest thing happened the morning of her funeral. I woke up, and I felt like God was giving me clarity on what to say. I told Dan and I quickly walked over to my writing desk, and wrote down exactly what I felt like the holy spirit was telling me to say. Nothing super-inspiring, just a few sentiments from the heart. More importantly, he gave me a peace about speaking in front of a group, and I was no longer nervous. The holy spirit gave me a calm reassurance and that peace carried me through to the podium.
This is what I wrote down and said:
When Rennie and my Dad married, Lisa and I became sisters. I was a young girl at the time, and we were both excited to have this new found sisterhood.
She was so accepting of me, loving and caring. Coming from a single Dad and a brother (and somewhat of a Tomboy) she helped to turn me into a girl and showed me the world of hairspray and teased bangs- only things a good big sister would do.
She later moved on to live with her Dad but we never lost touch. We later reunited when I moved back to Atlanta and I eventually got married. She was always very supportive. I recall on my wedding day, her pointing to me and proudly saying with a smile ‘That’s my sister!’.
The busyness of life got to me several years later and after three kids the visits became less frequent. However, she loved being an Aunt, she loved our kids very much, and we loved seeing her, even though it wasn’t as frequent as we would’ve liked.
Lisa had quite a few challenges in her life between her health and her relationships, but she never lost hope. It comforts me to know that she is now resting in the arms of Jesus. Free from pain, and feeling the most wonderful love of all, the everlasting love of our heavenly father.
We all know how much Lisa loved Winne the pooh, so after looking through her pinterest boards, I found this quote that she pinned and I see it quite fitting.
‘If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart and I’ll stay there forever’
What happened to Lisa is tragic. Death has a funny way of forcing you to think about life, how precious it really is, and it also forces you to stare at your faith right in it’s face. Do you believe in me? Do you trust in me? Do you have faith in life after death? It brings this questions that I would venture to say EVERY human asks, and it makes you face them. Ponder them. Mourn those facing the afterlife and wonder what it’s all about. Grasping at what it teaches us to be human and have the human experience. It’s hard.
Those of you that reached out and called, and messaged, sent flowers, and gift cards for dinner. THANK YOU. It is a hard time in our household with lots and lots of sadness and reflection. It is comforting when you are reminded of the goodness in life when you’re feeling loads of sadness.
Lisa Seymour Shrader, you will be missed. XO