The day after the day after

Memories are an amazing thing. Those moments that you have experienced in your life - the laughter, adventures, times you have felt most alive and daring - are things that no one can take away from you. Memories are God's ways of allowing us to hold on to the best of times so that we never have to let them go.

Of course memories can serve a different purpose than just allowing us to revel in the past. When I was a kid, I can remember times when I wish I had made different decisions. Throwing a rock and hitting the neighborhood bully was one of those memories I wish I could forget. Yeah, he may have deserved it and if it wasn't me then it probably would have been someone else throwing that rock, but what sticks with me more is the vivid recollection of the whooping I got with my dad's leather belt when he got home from work later that day. That memory still stings! But I can also tell you that I never threw rocks at that kid or any other kid again and somewhere along the way I actually learned to be civil with that neighborhood bully.

Two days ago my little community of Southport, NC, lost one of its own, Lily Beatini, a high school senior who was set to join her fellow seniors for graduation practice today. There will be an empty chair where she should have been, and for many students and teachers there is still an empty place in their hearts reserved for a friend that they desperately miss. Pain, anger, frustration, and hurt are in a constant battle to fill that spot, and for many of them the feeling of despair is almost too real and overwhelming. It's been a hard couple of days and the day after the day after will be another challenging one. My heart aches for her family and these students and this school who are struggling to carry on.

Yet there are some pretty amazing memories out there as well, aren't there? Memories of a short fire plug of a girl who was just as quick to share her opinion as she was her smile. Memories of a friend who drove a larger-than-life Suburban that made her look like the queen of the highway. Memories of a someone who made everyone smile when they saw her in the halls. These are just some of the memories that have been shared with me these past few days, and I have seen many find comfort in the laughter amidst the tears. It's been so easy for Lily's friends to share funny stories and meaningful times that they enjoyed with her because those sweet memories far outweigh any of the bad.

And that's the way it's supposed to be.

No one can take the memories of the good times away from you. When the tears start to come again and you find yourself starting to recede back into a dark place, allow those memories to flood your soul. Let them propel you to remember the best of times, because those times are what God has given to you as a gift. Eighteen years may not seem like enough time on this earth, but it's more than enough time to live an amazing life and leave friends and family with incredible memories that can never be taken away. Lily, thanks for the memories.


1 comment:

enjoyinglifeinnc said...

Thanks, Sterling, for the words. I didn't know Lily in life, but I have come to know her since she left this world through your posts and the words spoken by others. I feel I missed an opportunity to meet someone full of life and joy. Thanks for the memories, Lily.

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