Skylor’s death makes God even more real to me.
Is that weird to say?
Because every time I think of Skylor now, I just think of him in heaven. And because I knew Skylor—a real, breathing, living person—I know that he is still somewhere else now real, existing, living even more fully than he ever had. There is no way that he’s just simply “gone” now, but he is existing and enjoying and creating and drawing still.
When I was told Skylor had passed away, the image that immediately came to mind was Skylor smiling in heaven, the same Skylor smile that I first met 2 years ago.
The images was not the cancer body that housed his smiling spirit here.
Not him now lifeless.
But the image of him still living and smiling.
It’s hard to image Skylor not here any more, but its crazy that I know and am so confident that he is living now in heaven.
He makes God as a living Being even more real to me. Knowing that Skylor is now interacting with him and and asking him questions and speaking to him is like, wow.
Hearing about Skylor’s death reminded me of our beginning: a letterman’s jacket, a hospital room, a smiling 16 year old guy and his equally smiling mama.
Even though it makes me sad to think about Skylor’s death, I’m just as overwhelmed that I had a part of his life, of helping him come to know God. It’s a good overwhelmed, a grateful overwhelmed, an omg-what-if-I-had-never-stopped-at-his-patient-room-door-overwhelmed. Its an overwhelmed that is reeling over significant moments, even when back in that moment it at first felt so intrusive, so awkward and weird to stop in at a stranger’s door.
You see, I could not not stop at Skylor’s door that day. Even though I felt crazy, feeling like the only thing I had to go on was a letterman’s jacket and a cancer story to relate to, I still obeyed.
God’s directions are sometimes (usually) whispers. My whole being felt this pull and I went as my answer.
What if I had never stopped in that day? Gulp.
Skylor’s letterman jacket was at the viewing and the funeral. In fact, as the line went up to the receiving line of the family, you pass them, pass pictures, then it’s the jacket, and then Skylor in the casket.
Once again, the jacket directing me to him.
I was unsure how I was going handle seeing Skylor that day in the casket.
Skylor was my first friend to die.
Skylor was my first cancer survivor friend to die.
Josh was with me at the viewing, and I held onto his arm as he led me to the open casket. Josh is usually pretty quiet, so when he speaks, its worth listening. I’m unsure if he even knew that he spoke this aloud, but I heard him as he guided me—
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He leads me gently to the casket, and my mind picked up on a later section of the psalm—
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Death, you are before me now.
Oh, rod and staff, comfort me!
The next day at the funeral, I go up again to the open casket with my parents, and I just hold mama. She has been weeping all week, I know, even when I am not around her. Her heart is so empathetic and compassionate. Growing up, I would see her cry over her elementary student’s homelives, crying in frustration and helplessness and anger and uncertainty of how to support.
And now I’m supporting her. And I’m uncertain how to support.
My dad, mom, Megs and I walk after seeing Skylor again to seats for the funeral ceremony. As I’m listening to Skylor’s Dad and Mom, Uncle, and then officiant speak, I’m still just shocked. All of these pictures of Skylor around us living, and in front of us is a lifeless Skylor. I’m so shocked that I can’t cry. And I feel like I must support the others around me by being strong. (I always feel this way.)
But its when the funeral officiant recalls the story of Skylor and I meeting, nods and points to the letterman’s jacket, I honestly wail alongside the mourning psalmists of the Bible. I just lean and bury myself in my mother’s shoulder. I can barely hear the officiant talk about how I invited Skylor to a Bible study and how Skylor came to faith and that faith grew over the past 2 years because I am finally crying all the strength-tears I tried to keep not just for Skylor but for myself.
Mama rocks her Jenna-baby, like she’s always done, and whispers a Spirit-led, two-worded lullaby,
“Well done, well done”
And I’m surprised that those are the words of comfort in the moment she brings me, and it shocks me in a good way, a reality-reminder that I needed to know in that moment.
He will one day tell us,
21 “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
And while he tells us,
4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
God used my mama to help me experience a brief foreshadow of these truths in the midst of us both sitting and weeping at a funeral.
That will be a moment that I won’t forget, that God was indeed speaking through my mama, speaking words of encouragement. The courage for me now to keep going in my own cancer journey and to be aware of those around me, to not withhold out of fear of the pain that comes with love, but instead to reach out when He calls me to act.