Those two little green pieces of luggage accompanied us on every trip we ever made as a family, until now. They were the same two bags Amanda carried when she came to live with us at six years old. When I closed the trunk of our car, their absence drove home the point that we were yet again embarking on another first--our first family vacation as a family of three.
Over and over again, I caught myself glancing back to the empty seat you should have occupied. Over and over, it remained empty. Your laugh and your voice were constantly, noticeably missing throughout the 1000 mile drive to the east coast. The laughs, the smiles, even the complaints, I missed and longed for.
Once, the song If I Die Young played on the radio. I sung along under my breath as I scanned the sky for the rainbow described in the lyrics. Even though conditions seemed right for the colored arch to appear, it didn't. Again, punctuating the pain caused by the empty seat in the back.
Even though you might have chosen not to make this trip, the fact that you couldn't be with us made it really tough. You would have been 18, and you might have stayed behind. To work or just to exercise your independence, you might have left those two small green suitcases unpacked and at home. Your place in the back seat might have been empty anyway. But you didn't get to choose, and you weren't staying at home.
This was another of the "firsts" we had to experience because an evil man, doing the bidding of Satan, gunned you down and stole you from us. Who knows how many more of these will come. As we continue down this path, we routinely encounter little events that we should be experiencing with you. Around every curve, over every hill, another opportunity to spend time with you is missed because you are gone.
I thank God for the family I have left. I am truly blessed to have a wonderful wife and a beautiful daughter to spend this time with. I am also blessed to have had the years we had with Amanda. Though the memories bring tears to my eyes now, they are priceless treasures that I'll forever cling to. But as richly blessed as I am, the pain of missing her is a pain I'll suffer forevermore.
" 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them [those who have died in Christ] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words."-- 2 Thessalonians 4:17-18
The only reason I can continue to move forward is Jesus' promise that one day I'll see Amanda again. One day, I'll make my trip to Heaven and meet her at the gate. I'll throw my arms around her and hug her so tight, and maybe never let her go. One day...
Wish you were here baby girl...
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