Sometimes in life, God provides to us an impenetrable and unforgettable testimony on His love in the oddest yet most unmistakable of ways. The web of love and connections He weaves often goes unnoticed and takes a “wake up” moment to realize. A sudden moment of tragedy and the loss of their beautiful 3 year old daughter for two wonderful people I have come to know in life woke me and hundreds (if not thousands) of others up this weekend.
Close to ten years ago now I was taken in by a core group of lifelong friends who will never fully understand the support and fulfillment they provided. As fate and God’s Will would have it, one of those guys married a girl I knew all the way from high school and the world received Jacob and Stephanie Harper with open arms. You will be hard pressed to find two better people in this world. Not only as a couple, but as genuine and caring people who are the epitome of what most people should strive to be.
Life moves at a torrid pace, and oftentimes the day to day rat race pulls us in different directions. The parties, cookouts, and date nights give way to weddings, careers, and babies. Our hearts don’t change, but our priorities do. I had the privilege of meeting Jacob and Stephanie’s highest priority, little Miss Rilyn Alivia, a few times in passing around town and at the store and such. Like any proud parents, she is their pride and joy, and the smiles on their faces always tell the story. Rilyn left us this weekend in a moment of tragedy, but her impact was felt in so many ways today.
There were two things that really stood out to me today at the funeral. The Pastor preached on “Proper Perspective”, and there was a little pink starburst candy on every seat in the room. The pink starburst, such a small and somewhat commonplace object, stood for SO much more. It was Rilyn’s favorite candy, and I swear there was a sense of her there in the room sharing with all of us what brought her joy. It was one of the most incredible feelings in my life to see people latching on to their candy piece because of the impact a tiny little 3 year old girl made on them. I can only dream to make an impact like that when my time here is done.
As Pastor Garner talked on “Proper Perspective”, my very own perspective came into view. I couldn’t help but look around and notice all the things I have taken for granted. There, for the first time in I don’t know how long, were most all of my friends in one room. There were those same bonds made years ago that had been covered by the strains of life peeking through in a show of support and love. There was no deadline to meet. There were no jobs. There were no judgments. There were only hundreds of people gathered for the one common goal of supporting and loving friends when they need it most. Although everyone there today would have taken her place, God’s love and power were shown to me through the loss of a 3 year old little girl.
To Jacob and Stephanie, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for pouring your love and same genuine spirits into Rilyn. If not for you and your indomitable love for her, God could not have shown His power. Although our hearts break for you, the renewed view on life and love from your beautiful little girl gives us a sense of strength and peace knowing that in the hardest of times there is positivity to be gained. Kind of like when you reach in the pack and pull out a yellow (yugh) starburst. It’s ok to cry about the yellow one you’ve been given. Just know that pink one is yet to come. We love you.
-Chad and Rosemary