…and we’ll go.

Today it has been one year…

One year since I woke up from a Sunday slumber and realized I’d left my phone in the car…one year since my heart sunk seeing on the screen that I had a dozen missed calls and texts…one year since I heard my Melody tell me “Janet died.”…one year since I ran up the cement steps and collapsed on the floor in shock and sobs…one year since I packed in a flurry, made phone calls with undecipherable words, and sped home to Indiana without being able to see the highway through my tears…one year since I held Rachel in my arms and literally could not find words that would soothe or comfort…one year since too-high stalks that hid a stop sign sent our girl home.

Janet was an unexpected surprise of a friend…

Rachel had asked to bring her along to a party I was hosting, and I said no.
I think my exact words were something along the lines of “She’s too pretty. I won’t like her.”
To which Rachel responded… “Oh yes you will, she has a lisp.”

And from the moment that stunning woman hugged me and said “It’s so nithe to meet you.” I was hooked.

For months she drove to Indy on the weekends to stay with Rachel before she eventually made the move after graduation, and with every Saturday night we spent or Sundays we worshipped together I loved her more and more.  By the time she officially unpacked her boxes, we were all more-than-happy that she was becoming a permanent part of our lives.

There are so many memories that have Janet wrapped up in them, house church and concerts and sleepovers and prayers and parties… and yet certain moments stand out more than others, her wrapping her arm around me or slipping her hand in mine as I cried before our Lord on Sunday mornings, rubbing her back while she confessed to falling in love while in Jordan, snagging a hot cup of coffee and Godiva bar just to surprise her at Apple, us girls squished in the backseat of Dave’s car enjoying our usual routine of giggling and dancing while we rode to a night of Colts training camp, sneakily planning Rachel’s 23rd birthday party, and the night she officially stitched herself into my heart…

It was a warm late-summer day that led me to the State Fair with my friend Kris and his parents, and after funnel cake and lemon shake-ups Kris and I headed to meet Janet and some of their coworkers at a local bar.  Never one to be underdressed, I hadn’t forseen the night leading to an upscale club when I donned my jeans and gray v-neck.  Janet convinced me to come along, and we said goodbye to the boys and headed out for the night.  Once in Broad Ripple I bemoaned for the millionth time how gross I felt in my simple outfit that smelled of the fair.  Janet grabbed my hand as we walked up the stairs to the club where the pulsating music was pouring out of… she looked right at me and said “I think you look great, but the minute you want to go home, you just tell me and we’ll go.”

She got it.  She knew that for all of my brash brassiness, I too-often squirm in my own skin, and she knew that it would be hard for me to meet a lot of new people feeling less than my best.

So we walked upstairs, men instantly drawn to her perfect face and smile, she laughed with friends new and old and proudly introduced me to everyone.  Eyes cast down at my flip-flops in a sea of stilletos, I squeezed her hand.  She looked at me, and without a single question or request to stay just a “little bit longer” she said goodbye to the men fawning all over her and out we walked.  I felt embarrassed and awkwardly apologized.  “What for?”  she queried… “I just want to spend time with you…I don’t care where we are.”  I remember my eyes got hot, but not wanting to cry, I just hugged her as we drove home.

Rachel was gone that night, but we snuggled in her bed and for hour after hour Janet poured out her life to me… she told me of all her loves and heartbreaks in complete detail… somewhere toward morning we fell asleep.  Right before our eyes closed she told me she felt bad for keeping me up talking all night and she apologized… “What for?” I asked.

Weeks later, I was home from Ohio to celebrate my birthday with my beloveds.  After another wonderful morning at Common Ground we went for brunch at Patachou… It was slightly raining, Jeremy and Rochelle with a teeny-tiny Maryn, Val & Melody with pregnant bellies, other friends standing around as we waited for a table laughing and chatting… it was normal, it was wonderful, it felt whole.  After breakfast, I knew I needed to head back to Ohio, but so badly didn’t want to leave my loves… without a care in the world Janet hugged me for the fifth or so time and shouted “WE LOVE YOU!” as her and Rachel bounced to their car.
That was the last time I would see her alive.

The next time I saw her was in a casket in Pennsylvania with a face that looked nothing like hers.

After the service we drove to the grave site, we stood and prayed as I leaned on Walter to simply stand.  The sight of Julie sobbing locked itself deep inside of me and I walked with dozens of others who were laying roses atop our Janet Rose, I slipped a magnetized quote against her steel resting place…

janet

After that, we all hugged, dozens of us friends that couldn’t quite, and still can’t quite, wrap our minds around Janet’s death.

As I waited for Zach and Kris and Sean in the car with my muddy shoes hanging outside of the open door, I snapped this photo of the trees above me… as a reminder that there was beauty in the day… Janet, ever the artist, would have had it no other way.

janet tree

As we drove away, listening to Phil Wickham’s “Divine Romance” the tears I thought were spent continued to pour.  One of the boys reached his arm across the backseat to comfort me as the sobs that seemed to wrench out from my insides had me barely breathing.

Days before as we had packed some of her room, in a hazy grief-swallowed fog we sat to take a break.  We picked up a Bible sitting next to the couch… asking who it belonged to;  it was Janet’s, and we flipped to where it was bookmarked.

Our sovereign God had the pages open to Psalm 103, and the following verses were underlined: “Like as a Father pitieth His children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him, for He knoweth our frame, He remembereth we are dust. As for man, His days are as grass, as a flower of the field, so He flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it and it is gone, and the place thereof shall know it no more.”

And off to the side, Janet had written “Our lives are short here…live for eternity.”


janet verse


She did.  She had.  And now she was there… in eternity, with her Jesus…our Jesus.  Phil Wickham’s voice resonated through each of us as he sang … “For You I sing and I dance,  rejoice in this divine romance, lift my heart and my hands to show my love…”

That’s all I can envision her doing and a year later, that’s still how I picture her… head tilted back with laughter, bubbling up with joy and light in the very presence of her Savior.  So many times I’ve ached to be there too, to skip ahead whatever years God has left for me and join her in His presence… oh that she could just grab my hand, look me in the eye and say…

“The minute you want to go home, you just tell me, and we’ll go.”

janet smile

I love you so much my Gypsy, I miss you more than these words can express… we can’t wait to meet you at home.

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4 Responses

  1. I love you… thank you for your words.

  2. this is beautiful kate. just perfect. love you so much!

  3. this is just beautiful. you really have a way with words- i am sitting at work crying. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  4. i didn’t know janet… but as i read this entry chronicling your brief time with her, i began to cry. thank you for holding your friends dear to you, not only in action, but in word. i wish i had a friend like you, kate!

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