Let me tell you a story, part truth, part fiction, because my mind tends to imaginings.
It was the worst of times followed by the best of times. There was death and then there was life. For there are two sisters, one who died before she was born and one born ten months after the first one died. On November 10, 1997 I had lunch with my daughter Brandee at Wendy’s in Madisonville, KY just before her scheduled OB appointment. She was expecting our first granddaughter, who already had a name, Lydia Elizabeth. Just the weekend before our son Scott and daughter in law, Martha had been to visit with our grandson Jonathan, so we had had both grandsons Jordan [Brandee’s] and Jonathan. It had been great to have them together. Still the idea that a girl would soon brighten our lives thrilled us.
At lunch, Brandee confided that she was a bit anxious to see her doctor, because she had not felt Lydia move since the previous day. “I will feel better once I hear her heartbeat.” She said.
Unfortunately, there was no heartbeat not in the doctor’s office or at the hospital for a confirmation ultrasound while I sat holding my daughter’s hand [my son in law worked in Tennessee at the time and was on his way]. Brandee, whose faith has since she was a child amazed me, through tears said “I know God has a purpose, but I don’t know what it is.” The silent ultrasound mocked our platitudes. I was hurt. I was angry. If I were God, I would have made our Lydia’s heart come alive and beat again. All I could do was hold my hurting daughter.
SIDE NOTE: Terry and I have ever since began praying for unborn babies and the parents as soon as we hear of the pregnancy right up until birth and sometimes long afterward. I do not think that God punished any of us for not praying enough, but we want to acknowledge that as natural as pregnancy is, life is fragile and we want to be connected to the one who gives life and sustains it.
On October 9, 1998, Abigail Jo Foster entered the world, a healthy robust child. At the same time in heaven, Lydia leaned forward off her Grandmother Jo Nell’s lap giggling with delight. ‘My Sissy!’ She proclaimed. ‘I LOVE HER SO MUCH!’ The Lord was so delighted by her response that He appointed her as Abigail’s number one encourager. When Abigail succeeded at learning to walk, talk and give orders to everyone, Lydia clapped her hands with delight, ‘That’s my sister, she is one strong willed girl. I love her.’ Abigail in the meantime began to alternately look forward to Lydia’s interventions and the random thoughts that often bombarded her and bat them away from her.
Likewise when Abigail failed to take chances or perform in public, like when the kindergarteners in her class were rewarded by getting to do the Chicken Dance in a school assembly and Abigail chose to stay in the classroom with the kiddos who were detained, Lydia got right in her head and planted seeds of courage. Abigail did not appreciate anyone planting anything in her head, but Lydia kept right on. Later those seeds grew and with lots of encouragement, praise and love both earthly and heavenly , Abigail began to throw off the basket that covered her light. Lydia danced and sang and cheered right along with her little sister.
When Abigail sulked, ranted, raved and grew incredibly selfish at times, Lydia scolded her gently, though had she been on earth she might have smacked her one. When Abigail fed Frank, then Izzy and Clay, calfs abandoned by their mothers, Lydia stayed right with her and relished the dedication and hard work. Though Abigail and she had never met physically, the sister bond tightened over the years. Abigail noticed the nudges, the cheers, the scolding, but largely thought they came from her own head.
When at fifteen Abigail’s friend died in a car accident, Lydia rushed to meet Abigail’s friend near the portal of heaven, embracing her and loving her while at the same time reaching out to her hurting little sister to comfort her. From a front row seat in heaven Lydia has witnessed Abigail’s accomplishments, disappointments, joys, sorrows with a confidence that everything works together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. With her own place in heaven secure, she has watched and nurtured Abigail’s faith along with her parents, grandparents, and others.
Being a decisive person herself, Lydia finds Abigail’s indecisiveness a bit unsettling, nudging her here and there to get on with it. She also encourages her to be more adventurous and to live LIFE to the fullest. Lydia never took a breath on earth, but she knows heaven well. And she sees what life really is and wants Abigail’s life to have meaning and purpose even though she is earth bound. GO FOR IT! Is the cheer she shouts at Abigail daily, along with LOVE OTHERS!, BE KIND!, LAUGH! CRY! FOR HEAVENS SAKE LIVE LIKE YOU ARE ALREADY IN HEAVEN–CAREFREE! Abigail does not hear the shouts though LYDIA screams as loud as she can. She does, however, feel little brain pinches and wonderings. . .which frankly annoy her a lot
Sisters, What are you going to do with them? One with her feet on the earth and the other firmly settled in heaven, but still connected, still sisters.
Whatever happens in Abigail’s life, her sister in heaven, knows that someday they will meet, laugh, giggle, dance and sing together. Until then she and God have a deal, Lydia is Abigail’s number one Cheerleader!
As a grandmother to both these sisters I feel strongly they are connected even though they never met each other in this world.