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.
Rebecca DeMarino says
Elaine, what a beautiful daughter! Through my tears my heart goes out to you. Thank you for sharing your memories. I can see her smiling down on her brother in his jet, and you at your keyboard and the daddy that taught her Shel Silverstein at age 2! And I know she rejoices as she waits for you with open arms. Hugs to you.
Thank you so much, Rebecca. ((HUGS)) back.
Janet Grunst says
We never forget the day we lost a child, and probably won’t understand this side of heaven, but we know the One who does. We know that He loves them, and the ones still here, even more than we do. I love your spirit, Elaine, an pray that you and your family will continue to smile at every reminder of Bethany.
Thank you, dear Janet. Praying for you as well. ((HUGS))
Sandy Sheppard says
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about your beautiful daughter. The 12th anniversary of my husband’s home-going is in six days. It is good to remember the blessings of our life together. On the back of his tombstone we had engraved the text of Daniel 12:3, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” Jeremiah 29:11 is also one of my favorites.
What a lovely verse to put on your husband’s headstone! Thank you so much for sharing. I pray that the Lord is your strength, especially in your season of grief. Blessings!
Linda M. Finn says
Oh Elaine, I can imagine you so miss her and I cannot imagine what it would be like to loose one of my daughters. Hugs to you Sister. It is a good thing you picked up her desire to write and you do it so well and I am so enjoying Fields of the Fatherless.
I came on to read my email before going to bed, been rather tired with Vit D defficency. I found you here and wanted to come and tell you that I love your heart and it is surely the Lord who brought us together at this time.
Love and Hugs
Faithful Acres Books
Thank you so much, dear Linda. Blessings and hugs to you.
Linda Finn says
Shannon, I never knew that, I have never forgotten once that I have miscarried a child , Nor loosing Lizzie my daughters 4 month old to CF. She would be 6 already. And Elaine I had not realized your DH was gone home with the Lord. Praying peace over you both, sometimes it is not easy to leave sweet memories in the past and I think they are ever present with us.
Love you both
Shannon McNear says
Blessings, Elaine, on you and your family. We lost a baby fourteen years ago, and you never forget, do you? <3 <3 <3
I am so sorry that you lost your baby, Shannon. No, one never forgets part of ourselves that is gone. Our mother’s hearts feel the emptiness forever.