Saturday, September 23, 2006

Angel Christi

Today I attended Christi Thomas' funeral mass. The 5 1/2 hour drive up, I continually debated whether or not I should be making the journey. Some told me I grow too attached to the children whose stories I follow through blogspot, caringbridge, and carepages. Others encouraged me that I was doing the right thing. But, I must say, it was kind of strange driving so far to attend the funeral of a child I had never met in person.

The service was beautiful. It truly honored the life of a girl who touched so many through her brave fight with neuroblastoma. So many people were there, each with their own story of how they knew her and how she touched them. I certainly had my own story, yet still felt a little out of place.

It was not until a lovely couple came up to me during the reception, that I began to feel like I was meant to be there. They were excited to meet someone who came to know her through the website and loved looking through the stories some of you sent for Shayla. I then had the opportunity to go and meet Christi's parents and sister. The second I said my name, Angela recognized me (that made me feel good!). It was in our short encounter, a mere few minutes, that I came to know the full reason God sent me there. It was not only for the family, it was also for me. It was my opportunity to not only grieve over the loss of Christi, but all of the other children who I have prayed for yet never had the chance to meet. It is amazing how one can bond to total strangers. I really needed an opportunity to formally cry over the loss of so many precious fighters. It is not that I grow too attached to them, though a bond is formed. The fact is that each and every child that I come across somehow makes me a better person. They impact how I do ministry and how I live my life. I hug stronger, I call my family more, I pray more, and I empathize more. I realize that my life is not my life, but is a gift given to me by God to serve Him. Each and every time I come across a new sick child, I am reminded of that.

Alright, so that is a super long tangent, but it is the revelation I had today while being in the midst of Christi's family and friends. What a great teacher she was and will continue to be to so many, even in her death.

Laura

7 comments:

jackietex said...

Laura, I'm so glad you went to Christi's funeral. I've been following her blog for several months now and I wish I could have gone. Thanks for today's blog entry. I keep up with many kids through caringbridge and carepages and it is difficult to explain to people why I do it when it is often very sad. God has used these sites in many ways in my life. Christi has helped me look at life and death differently--wow! About a year and a half ago I started reading a caringbridge site that updated about a beautiful young college girl who developed meningitis and eventually lost part of both arms and legs. I talked several times to my oldest daughter, who was fourteen at the time, about this girl and what it would be like to be an amputee. Less than three months later my daughter almost lost her leg in a terrible SeaDoo accident and is still recovering today. In a way it felt like God had prepared us for what happened. Anyway, I wanted to say that I appreciate your blog and updates on Asher aka Chunky Monkey!

Sue said...

Laura
Thank you for your latest blog on attending Christi's funeral. I have been doing cambridge for about a year. My father died on May 5, 05 after a very short bout with cancer that stunned all of us. Shortly after that a friend of mine lost her husband to cancer and had a cambridge site and I started to visit it and from there branched out to alot more sites and before long found myself praying and caring for all these people I didn't and don't even know other than through blogs and emails. It is amazing and I know lots of people and friends think I am crazy however, it has helped my own heart grieve more openly and in some respects heal from the ache of my own father's death. So I know what you meant and I appreciate your insight.

Lisa said...

Laura--

I wish I had the compassion for others as you do. To drive 5.5 hours to attend a funeral for someone you do not know is amazing. And after I check on Asher each day, I am able to link to the many other children through you taking the time to enter all of their names/websites, etc. Thank you for all you do!

Beth Anne said...

Laura,
I totally agree with the other commenters.. I think its awesome that you went to the funeral. And, I too follow lots of caringbridge websites without ever meeting people face to face. I too suffer from a chronic illness, and sometimes checking on others just helps me to realize on days I'm feeling particularly crappy that there are other people out there struggling too. Thanks for going to the funeral in lieu of all of us!!

Molly said...

Hey Laura,
I must admit some slight envy that you were able to attend Christi's funeral. If it hadn't been such a long trip, I would have considered it. Ever since you put her on your website in May, I've been following her story, and praying for her family. They have truly amazed me and touched my heart.

the Thomas team said...

You are too kind. I can't believe you came from so far to come and meet our family and to say goodbye to our beloved daughter. You brought her more joy than you'll ever know. Thanks for your amazing kindness and love!! God bless you!

The Thomas team
Ohio

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