Sunday at church I met a dear little girl named Hannah Grace. She was born on a week earlier, on March 16th--my daughter Jolene's birthday.
A nice coincidence except for one thing.
Jolene committed suicide on one of the days immediately prior to her birthday. Sometime between Thursday night and Saturday.
Jolene Elizabeth Franklin would have been 24 years old on her birthday. Like Hannah, we had committed our child to the Lord from birth. And the "Jo" part of "Jolene," from "John," means "God is gracious."
So although Hannah Grace sounds nothing like Jolene Elizabeth, her name resonated with me.
Seven days ago at 9:30 PM, I sat petrified in my living room, waiting for the officer who had taken my missing persons report to call. He finally notified us at 11:30 at night.
Now we know. This side of heaven, I will never again hear my girl's laughter or have her rub my back. The memorial service is completed. Family has returned to Oklahoma. Today I spent a hard day chasing done legalities--bank accounts, death benefits, getting the key to her apartment so that we can clear it out. All those things took days to accomplish because we have no death certificate (we won't until the tox screen returns in 2 months), no will, no experience and no one to give us a users manual for grieving family members. I am exhausted beyond what I imagined possible.
But perhaps I will see Hannah Grace again next Sunday. And be reminded that God's grace continues, His faithfulness endures, and life goes on.
I know that many of you have lost children due to various reasons. Others have lost loved ones to suicide. And those who have not those particular pains have gone through your own vale of suffering. I want this blog where we can all share, lift each other up, and cry on each other's shoulders. Feel free to share.