Monday, January 09, 2012

Finding Joy in Tragedy

I believe that things happen for a reason, even if I don't know that reason for many years, if ever.

When I was living in New Zealand with Kristin it was a fear that her Grandfather would pass away while we were living there; he had some serious health issues and we  both had discussed the several options of her leaving if he had passed away. Never once did we think I would be the one to loose someone.

My Uncle passed away mid way through our year there and it was a shock to my whole being. He had, been having several health issues himself, but nothing that wasn't under control. Sadly though, some other things came up and he passed away quickly. It was a shock to my system and I felt as though I couldn't be any farther away from home. I knew I couldn't fly home unless I wanted to stay and not finish out my year and my Aunt adamantly told me that he was so proud of what I had chosen to do, it would be silly to come home half way through. Yet, to not be able to grieve alongside the rest of my family, I knew would leave a certain void in me.

On Saturday morning Graeme lost a dear friend Alexis in a tragic hot air balloon accident in New Zealand. I had woken up early in the morning to read and came across an article about it. Something in me thought he might know someone because it had been so close to Wellington, but I thought to myself, truly what are the odds. Regardless, I decided to wake him to tell him. No names were listed, just that all 11 people had lost their lives. Over the course of the day we came to find out that Alexis and her boyfriend Chrisjan had been on the balloon.

I had never met either of them, but I remembered seeing a photo of Alexis at Graeme's going away party and as the day went on he told me stories about her and the joy that she brought everywhere she went. He showed me her facebook page and the outpouring of love and sadness at her loss. Over the day I think it was just complete shock for him that this had happened, that out of all 11 they were the two youngest by 30 years, and the sadness of how they had passed.

We had decided to go to church on Saturday night and throughout the service he seemed "fine", but it wasn't towards the end in the middle of worship were he broke down. It hit him, that his friend was gone, that he was incredibly far from home, and that he would not be able to have the kind of closure that everyone else would have. It was a sad moment as his wife to allow him to cry on my shoulder and know that there is nothing I could do, but be there. In a way I knew that what I had experienced in New Zealand, at the loss of my loved one gave me an insight to how he was feeling in that moment. Being homesick. Grief. A void that may never be filled.

For Graeme though there is joy. Alexis, from what I have heard and seen in the testament of those who loved her dearly, was that she was filled with joy and that she carried it everywhere she went. She was passionate for people, Christ, and the world. I wish I knew why God chooses the time that he chooses, but He is God and in no right does He have to share that information with me, but loss no matter the time or age is an incredibly hard, yet real part of the lives we lead.

Below are the last memories Graeme has of spending time with Alexis, as she wished him well on his new adventure to his new second home. You are dearly missed Alexis Still, thank you for reminding us to take the joy of the LORD with us wherever we go.

*Alexis (blonde) at the center with Grae and friends...May 2011


Nannette Ricaforte said...

I can't stop crying at my desk. I'm sending you and especially Grae my bony hugs and a healthy dose of love.

Bean said...

I wish I could think of something to say, something more than "I'm sorry", but there are no words I could offer that would bring you and Graeme comfort or adequately express my condolences.

Thank you for writing this post. It is a somber reminder to me to live fully and love generously.

I am truly sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you both.

Casey said...

Heidi, I used to work with Graeme so I know him more that I know you but reading this I am really sad to hear how torn my good mate is. Thanks for posting this - very sad indeed. Give him a big old hug from me and you take care too ok! Xox