I lost Jolene three years ago tomorrow. The dance has returned to the normal ebb and flow of life, with an occasional dirge of remembrance and tears.
In some ways, Kayla couldn't be more different than Jolene. Tall, slender, and fair, where Jolene was short, stocky, and dark. Kayla lives with a serious physical illness, but in other respects appears to be a "normal" (whatever that means), well-adjusted teen. Jolene never fit in in all her almost twenty-four years. Although Jolene loved music, she had a deaf ear. Kayla has a beautiful voice.
But in other ways they are alike. Teachers described Jolene as "articulate," and she wrote breathtaking poetry. Kayle is a published novelist. Writers, both of them.
Both of them love the Lord and know His word. I use the present tense for that with Jolene, for surely in heaven, her love for the Lord is perfect and complete.
And for one hour on a Wednesday night at a recent writers' retreat, Kayla filled the gaping hole created by Jolene's death.
Kayla and her mother had led singing as we writers gathered in the living room at the retreat. After a prayer time, the writers scattered, and I took myself to the piano. Since I was a teenager, nothing calms my troubled spirit like song. Especially if I get to play. I played my way from one end of the hymnal to the other.
So I opened the hymnal and began to play and sing. Before long, Kayla reappeared and started to sing with me. She loved the hymns I introduced her to. Jolene loved hymns. Not all young people do. We alternated suggesting hymns, ending with "O Little Town of Bethlehem."
When Kayla sang with me, it felt like Jolene was at my side, smiling at me.
Thank you, Kayla, for your sweet spirit and the comfort you brought to me.
Thank you, Kayla.