I write this with mixed emotions…
On one hand, I am in “paradise”. We just had our first full day in St. Thomas, on vacation with my parents yesterday. Jayden got a B+ and Brooklyn got an A- traveling. We left via limo at 3:30 AM and flew to Miami and then to St. Thomas, arriving around 3PM. The house is beautiful. The view is breath taking and the pool is perfect for the kids. We went to the beach yesterday and swam in the ocean. Brooklyn LOVES the sand just like Jayden. Today we are going to Coral World and Coki Beach. I am excited and couldn’t ask for a better vacation with my family.
On the other hand, I am deeply sad. I lost a very dear friend to eternity yesterday. Bonnie went to be with the Lord. I can’t get her and her family out of my mind. I have a heavy heart and I know Jut does too. I wish I was there to hug Melissa, Steve, and Erik. I wish I was there to support them on Friday and Saturday. I hurt with them…. from a distance.
Bonnie was such a role model for me and I adored our friendship. I worked with Bonnie in youth group for 5+ years and on staff for 3 years. I realized that I have spent more time working and serving with Bonnie than I have spent with my own parents. Bonnie and I were usually roommates on retreats. I will never forget to retreat that we stayed up until about 2 AM. I listened for hours as Bonnie shared her life story with me. I truly feel I was on sacred ground as she shared deeply private things in the dark room lying next to me in the other bed.
I loved Bonnie’s servant heart. A part of Jesus could be seen through her gift of serving. She never wanted to be the center of attention-even though she deserved to be. She was the person who was naturally gifted to work behind the scenes….like a well oiled machine….she made others look good. She made Immanuel look good. She made youth group appear organized and put together. I KNOW there are many youth group students (she served over 20 years) hurting too.
A student Jut lead to Christ just this year called him yesterday. He can’t get Bonnie out of his head. He can’t understand why God took Bonnie….and I can’t either. We are comforted that Bonnie loved the Lord and is with him-migraine free. But we can still be sad and miss her.
Bonnie was such a giver and gave freely of her money, her comforts, and her time. She selflessly lead by example. Every Wednesday when I would come into work, she would be sitting there behind her desk, with a smile waiting for me. She would comment on the latest blog I wrote, and ask me how the kids were doing or share in the latest pain or joy I was feeling that week. We would chat about youth group and life and I would go to my office.
Bonnie-I am gonna miss that. I am gonna miss you. Thank you for letting the light of Christ shine through you—enough to shine right on me. I pray I can learn from your example and be able to do the same.
Oh, my dear Melissa (Bonnie’s daughter). I met Me-Me ( as Jayden calls her) her junior year of high school. We met on a youth group scavenger hunt at the mall. She was in my small group for 2 years and she easily became one of my favorites (I may even say my favorite-oops, we are not supposed to have favorites….). We remained very close as she went to college and I would now consider her a very close friend. I told Bonnie on Wednesday, when we thought we would never see her again-I would take care of Melissa. I love her so much and want to be there for her whenever she needs me to. I hurt so much for her. My hearts breaks. I feel that part of my deep suffering for my own children has allowed me to enter in to Melissa’s suffering and share it with her. I can’t take it away but misery loves company…so we can journey through suffering together. Melissa is such a strong young woman of faith and is following in her mother’s footprints. She also has a huge heart for people and is a servant. She would do anything for anyone. I almost began to cry when I saw her open her computer at the hospital and her desktop background was a picture of Jayden and Brooklyn. I did cry when I read her caring bridge entry when Bonnie passed.
Here is my promise, Melissa, whatever—whenever, it has always been that way but I want you to never forget. If you need me, I am there. One thing we are learning is that we may not see Jayden play volleyball for Zion-or Brooklyn get married….but we can see Erik and Melissa do it. We can be present for other kids just like we would for our own. The memories and experiences we are grieving for our own children-we can experience through the students we serve. Melissa-I want to share in your joys and pains, your heart-breaks, your laughter, your successes and failures. I am honored to be a part of your life.
Erik and Steve, Immanuel friends and family. Thank you for allowing Christ to shine through you in all of this. Erik and Steve-we will be there in whatever you need. We love you guys. Immanuel-thank for “showing up”. You continue to show up as the body of Christ…..
So-it is with mixed emotions I write this. Full of joy-full of pain. Thank you Jesus-for Bonnie, her faith, her family, her example.
Love you Ness family!