This is the third week of my Remarkable Faith series, where we are reflecting on our most memorable moments in our faith walks. I’m saying “our” because I want this series to be an opportunity for you to share part of your own remarkable faith, not just a time for me to tell more stories about my life. So, check out the weekly topics and link up when you have something to say! And if you don’t have a blog but would like to share, please, talk to us in the comments.
I’ve been to a lot of funerals. Three grandparents, two godparents, an aunt, two uncles, two of my husband’s grandparents and my mother-in-law are just the ones most closely related to me. There have been several others. But the funeral that has had the most impact on my faith – by FAR – is my friend Carrie’s.
I met Carrie a few weeks into my freshman year of college. She lived just a few doors down the hall and was in chorus with me (and a couple hundred other students). I didn’t immediately peg her for a potential friend. To be honest, all I saw was her cheerleading outfit and assumed we weren’t each other’s types.
Thankfully, one of my friends (who lived a few doors down the hall the other way) introduced us, and I recognized a kindred spirit right away.
As the weeks went on, Carrie and several other friends who lived on that second floor of our dorm became my home-away-from-home family. We ate together, studied together, didn’t study together. We walked to class together and took road trips together. We shared hopes and dreams and fears. We explored our college town and talked about our hometowns.
On one of my very favorite nights with that group of friends, we all dressed up and went to our dorm’s formal dance. It was a little bit nerdy but we still had a great time. Eventually, we all made it back to the dorm and piled into Carrie’s four-person room to eat junk food and watch a movie. Nothing special, but it’s a night that sticks in my mind even now.
I also remember talking with Carrie about her major and even the possibility of her transferring to another school. I remember planning to room together the next year and debating who should live with who in the two bedrooms of our suite. I remember driving to Columbia for a concert and Carrie mentioning Caedmon’s Call, a new band she’d like to see next. We also saw Point of Grace in concert at her church and worshiped together more than one Sunday morning. I still tear up when we sing You Are Holy at church, because I remember her loving that song.
But what I remember most when I think about Carrie is the night of my roommate’s birthday. We were eating cake and laughing, and Carrie stopped by my room to say hi. I was busy with my roommate and other friends, and I didn’t take much time at all to chat with Carrie. We were both going home for the weekend, so I said I’d see her on Monday.
The next day I received a phone call at home. It was Kelly, one of Carrie’s roommates. She said, “You should sit down.”
I’m not sure what words she used to break the news – or what I said in response. I know I must have screamed or shouted or something, because I do remember my mom running into my room. I don’t suppose the details matter after all. My friend was dead.
Carrie hadn’t been home to see her parents for six weeks and they were anxious to see her. Her dad was worried about some bad weather we’d had, though, and suggested she take an alternative route home. Somewhere along the way home, Carrie swerved into the other lane and hit an oncoming car head-on. Thankfully the other driver was okay, but Carrie didn’t survive the accident.
My first instinct was to jump in my car and drive the two and a half hours to my dorm, to be with my friends. I just needed to be with them. My dad refused. I argued with him until he finally broke down crying, something I had only seen happen one other time – at his dad’s funeral. Reluctantly, I gave up and changed tacks. I asked my parents if my friends could stay at our house when they came down for the funeral. My mom agreed and began cooking right away. She badgered me about helping her until, this time, I broke down crying. Cooking a bunch of food wasn’t going to change this surreal and shocking situation.
My friends drove down to my house. The guys made fun of my mom’s Pepto-Bismol pink bathroom and the girls spent hours with me, trying to understand what had happened. We joined hundreds of other people at the funeral and listened to people who’d known her much longer talk about what an incredible, sweet person Carrie was.
And then they played a recording of her singing. That was brutal.
In my list of things I don’t understand, why my friend had to die when her life was just beginning is near the top. And no matter how long my friends and I talked about it – how did it happen? what made her swerve into the other lane? was she reaching for a CD? what if she hadn’t taken that road? why didn’t I talk to her more the night before? – it didn’t change the fact that we just didn’t understand.
Because I believe, though, it comes down to faith – even when I don’t like it. So, at the end of the day, even though it broke my heart (and the hearts of her parents and her sister and her many other friends) and it makes no sense even now, I just have to believe that God’s way is best.
Ohhhh, that is so hard! And that is why this funeral, more than the others, has influenced my faith so much.
Has a funeral played a part in your story? Was the death of a loved one a memorable moment in your life? Do you have a remarkable faith?
If you write about this on your blog, please link up! (And remember, use the URL for your specific post, and include a link back to Giving Up on Perfect in your post so others can link up, too!)