Today, October 20th, 2013, marks the tenth anniversary of our daughter Bethany’s Homecoming. Not a college homecoming event, mind you. It was her final homecoming to heaven.
The discovery of her brain tumor shortly after her 23rd Birthday was a shock, to say the least. Months of treatment followed. Our lives were flung into a pit of despair, exhaustion, and grief, while our desperate faith clung to the hem of God’s garment as He said to us, “Trust me.” And we did. And we still do.
God never promised that our lives would be without sorrow or challenges that would feel much worse than a blow with a two by four. But He did promise He would never leave us or forsake us.
While many of my friends and even distant relatives only know Bethany as “my daughter who died from a brain tumor,” she was so much more.
She was the short one in the family, nearly a foot shorter than her older brother, Ben. But Bethany had what I always described as a “tall personality,” with more spunk and determination than all the rest of us put together.
When she was only two-years-old, her Daddy taught her the Shel Silverstein poem about a Polar Bear in the Frigidaire. The words still play in my mind as I can envision her rise to her full, midget-like stature and say the entire poem to amazed listeners. She delighted in the performance!
When her little brother, Nate, was born, she wanted to mother him to the point where I had to intervene. “If you do everything for him, he’ll never learn to do it himself,” I would gently say to her. She backed off—just a bit! The two of them were close their entire lives.
She admired her older brother, Ben, so much. In her last months she told him that she’d be watching him from heaven as he flew his military jet. I overheard her say to him, “I’ll tell everyone up there, ‘Look, there’s my brother!’” She was so proud of his service to our country.
Rather than just remember her as a cancer patient, I love to remember Bethany’s delightful legacy. She was a defender of the weak, a friend to the friendless, a comforter to the elderly in nursing homes, a brilliant student, a hilarious jokester, a believer in Jesus Christ, and as genuine a person as they come.
Her writing awed and amazed me. She dreamed of being a writer but those dreams were not in God’s plans.
I never dreamed that I would carry on her hoped-for legacy by becoming an author. I wish that she could have become the writer instead. But our ways are not God’s ways.
Bethany’s favorite Bible verse was Jeremiah 29:11: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
Reading that verse on her tombstone, her brother Ben said, “In a way, God did take care of her future by bringing her home to Him in heaven.”
Indeed. And someday we can all be united again in the heavenly realm. That is our ultimate hope—our ultimate joy as we remember my daughter, Bethany, on this day of her Homecoming Anniversary.