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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Memories of Mikayla (Lessons Learned)

A few weeks ago my friends experienced the sudden and tragic death of their four year old daughter Mikayla.  When I received the news, a profound sadness overwhelmed me.  I vacillated between grief and simply being numb.  I couldn’t wrap my mind around this, it was too surreal.  The only thing I could do was pray.  I understand that there is power in prayer, but I must admit that there were moments when I desperately wished that I could do something else to fix this situation.  As I began to pray for the parents and extended family, I found myself asking God to show me the lesson. I was compelled to learn something from a situation that was so undeserved, so completely mind boggling, so painful.  Over the past few weeks, through the sentiments expressed from others and my own memories of Mikayla, that is exactly what God has done.  I’d like to share some of the lessons I learned from a four year old.

1.       Be Present in the Moment
For such a small frame, Mikayla had a huge personality.  Her infectious laugh, bright eyes, radiant smile and raspy voice were undeniably heartwarming.  Whenever she was present, it was known.  There is one particular instance that came to mind as I listened to her teachers give their reflections on Mikayla as a student.  Their memories pointed me to a personal encounter I had with Mikayla when she was just an infant.  She was attending church with her father.  He was about to make a presentation from the pulpit and he passed her to me for me to hold.  I can’t even remember what he was talking about, because I was captivated by those eyes.  I know most babies look around with a certain curious wonder about what they are seeing, but Mikayla looked as if she was really taking it all in.  It wasn’t just wonder but intentional, careful observation, it wasn’t simple curiosity, but rather it was more of a scientific examination and then she did it….she smiled.  I was sold on this precious being.  I believe we shared a God moment – realizing the awesome power of creation and life. As a baby, Mikayla knew how to not just see her surroundings, but see into them.  Mikayla taught me the importance of being aware of where I am and with whom I share those moments/that space.

2.       Ask Questions
During the funeral, many people expressed the same sentiment about Mikalya.  She was certainly inquisitive. She asked questions, but she also had the ability to connect those answers to other realities/experiences.  I want to believe God used her probing nature to inspire the eulogist.  He took his text from Psalm 22 and raised the question, as did the psalmist, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  I was encouraged and I believe others were enlightened by his message.  For during the days leading up to the service, I held conversations with several friends about this tragic circumstance. Many said that they knew we were not supposed to question God, but they were trying to find some answer to why this happened.  My response to them was that we can indeed ask questions of God and we should ask questions of God, especially in light of times/situations we don’t understand.  The eulogist took the same stance.  He told the congregants that in times like these we need to ask God questions.  It is in the process of asking the questions that we rid ourselves of the pain, doubt and the frustration that can keep us from the only one who is able to comfort us.  While I cannot understand why Mikayla was taken away so abruptly, I can understand why I need God.  I need God because life presses us, life troubles us, and life presents us with conundrums and difficulties beyond our capacity to grasp.  When I’m in these spaces, I need to be able to ask the Creator of all things – why?  Even if the answer never comes, in the asking I yield myself to be open to God’s presence. Mikayla taught me to ask questions and to seek to connect the answers to greater realities. 

3.       Celebrate Life
One of her instructors described how much Mikayla loved dance.  She stated that Mikayla would go into the bathroom and change into her dance uniform and once she did she would dance all the way down the hall back into classroom.  I love to dance, but I realized how little I do it.  Life gets in the way.  As we grow older, we become more cognizant of who may be watching us.  We allow disappointments and frustrations to take the place of joy and happiness.  I’m more determined, through the brief life of Mikayla to celebrate- take the time to revel in the small things and dance. There are blessings that we encounter everyday that are worth celebrating.  Mikalya taught me that life may be too short to miss the small things, so while I have the opportunity I will dance down the hall in spite of who may be watching.

I hope that everyone who reads this blog will be impacted by Mikayla, no matter if you knew her or not.  I hope the memories of her that I've shared with you will cause you to be reflective on your own lives. Precious, princess Mikayla your life, in my opinion, was way too short but nevertheless impactful.  During your four years, you taught the adults in your life great lessons.  That was a great burden for such a small being, but “well done, little one, well done.”  Keep your eye on us from that heavenly perspective and remind us to be good to one another.  You are forever in our hearts.

Abounding in Love and Growing in Grace,