I sit here in the dawn and stare at the rug on the floor; it’s so hard (the feeling has returned). I hear her voice, “You and your precious Persian carpets” Ariana use to say to her Baba. A loving tease for sure after he would tell Ariana to take off her shoes before entering the house. For a year now, I have been looking for her everywhere and longing to hear her voice. There is a text message/clip of her singing in her car and at the end she says, “I love you” and the tingling sensation in my chest is palpable as I focus on her voice in the silence of this morning. Over Christmas, I sat in a clearing in the rain forest and looked through the trees. I imagined her slender form walking, a glimpse of her hair as she passed through narrow beams of sunlight and shadows, behind brush and palms; she seemed to float and the warm breeze rustled and I heard twigs breaking. I prayed to God that he would allow me one last time to hold her in my arms. I know, how utterly insane is that?!.. to expect such a wondrous miracle to happen to someone like me. I’m not belittling myself; I just know my prayer is not going to be answered in the way I want it no matter how much I plead. So I sit there playing out my day dream and her eyes are full of love as she sees me looking at her.

So that’s it then. For the rest of my days I will be looking for glimpses of her and straining to hear her voice. Please don’t get tired of me pleading Lord.. don’t ever let me forget the sound of her voice, her smell, the touch of her forehead only a mother’s hand knows. Our loss is just as fresh as it was 1 year ago when Pastor Brian so eloquently memorialized our daughter. He said, * “We’re stuck in the middle” and my own understanding is this:

Our life here on earth is just a layover to our final destination. What started as a glorious Eden has become a world in which each of has our own perceptions of what we call “home”. My childhood home in Minnesota is still standing but when I go back there to look at that little house and possibly relive some of those fond memories, they’re so detached from the warm home I knew; it now looks like one of those black and white photo’s of the 1960’s. It’s not my home anymore certainly not in any physical sense. When my mom say’s, “You’re home now”, it’s only because of her and the fact that I was brought up with love and surrounding lakes and cornfields that I call Minnesota home. Yet, I remember even then as an 11 year old girl, at night staring at my bedroom wall four inches from my face. I hit it with my fist, why is this wall so hard?! At that age I could not define the hardness I was feeling, something is missing, it was so confusing.. We’re stuck in the middle.. As this young girl, all I could do to alleviate this hardness feeling was to stand on top of the hill next to Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, look down at the sprawling carpet of green grass that merged into the baseball diamond below and take off like the wind. I really felt like angels lifted me off my feet as I ran. I walked home with a little smile on my face but the hardness feeling always returns.

Today, the hardness is harder than ever. The missing element that was difficult to conceptualize and never able to totally ignore throughout my life is not of this world we live in. Pardon the pun, but Pastor Brian brought it home for me. The lovely house that I live in now is not really my home. Years from now if I live somewhere else, I’ll view this house as another black and white, empty shell. The people who lived and loved in it will be gone and that sense of home will go with them. Ariana is truly home and that joy alone brings me to tears. There is a wall between us and my solace is that she can penetrate the wall and be with me because I’m the one that is stuck in the middle. She does not feel the hardness. “I am free”; there’s her voice again.

How long will my layover on earth be? A question that is probably pondered the most throughout human history. I struggle to give in to the tendencies to sleep as long as I can so the day passes quicker and I can get to my final destination.. the eternal place of peace. I know this is not what my life is intended to be.. waiting for it to be over, without purpose. Being stuck in the middle may sound like a simplistic phrase, even a cliché but what we choose to do on this journey and in the midst of human tragedy can be extraordinary. God help me find this strength.

*To see more of Pastor Brian’s message, go to Videos and click on Ariana’s memorial service held 1/7/17.