Originally published Thursday, 28 March 2013.
It was the last day of school before spring break during freshman year of high school. My best friend and I were fighting that day over something that seemed catastrophic at the time. I stood outside the school in my oversized puffy blue jacket and talked with friends.
Courtney was reassuring me that everything would be okay between myself and our mutual friend. She was becoming a great confidant and I was thankful for her kindness. There was something almost "magical" about her charisma and confidence.
"I'll call you when I get back from Colorado," said Courtney. "Everything is gonna be okay, Mar-Mar." I had an eerie feeling as I watched her walk away; which was unknowingly the last time I would see her on earth.
A few days later, I made a call to my best friend to apologize for whatever reason we were fighting. She answered the phone in tears and told me that Courtney was killed in a car accident. I trembled and hung up the phone. My parents drove me over to their house and we all tried to process this tragedy.
Courtney was traveling across the country with family and there was bad weather. The car lost control, crossed the median and was struck by an oncoming semi-truck. We were told that Courtney (15) was killed on impact. Her youngest brother (9) was facing life-threatening injuries in the hospital and passed away the next day.
This was the first time that most of us were faced with a personal loss and we were only 15 years old. A group of friends gathered almost every day to make phone calls and mourn the loss. We were tormented and confused by the emotions and pain of death at such a young age. Though her death was tragic and untimely, it was not without purpose.
Courtney was a Christian. She was the only person that I knew in public school to talk about Jesus.
The double funeral was extremely difficult for all who attended. It was standing room only and the line during visitation went out the door. These children were loved by many.
It was during the funeral service that my own family learned about Jesus. The pastor explained that Courtney and her brother fell asleep in the backseat of the car, and then the Lord wrapped His loving arms around them and carried them home to Heaven. It was then that my Mom realized she did not want to live eternity without Jesus and gave her life to God.
We have all gone on to be servants for Christ and use our gifts for the Lord. It makes me wonder.. where would our lives be without the message that we heard at the funeral?
How has God changed your life?
I think of Courtney and her family every year around Easter time. I do miss her and wonder what our friendship would be like today.
Knowing her faith was strong gives me great comfort to know I will see her again someday. It's going to be the hug of all hugs when I see her in heaven and I can't wait.
I remember her fondly and focus on the good memories. Even 14 years later it hurts to remember the loss of a friend, but I am so thankful for what the Lord taught me through it.
John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (NIV)
God loves us unconditionally and He wants us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Easter is the best time to get acquainted with God's Son. I hope and pray that we all have a blessed Holy Week!