I like to think about the easy stuff. The nice, pretty, fun, safe stuff. When we start to venture into the world of death, difficulty, and darkness I don't always know what to think. Or say. I like to think I can explain just about everything with a generous dose of thoughtfulness and consideration. Just talk it out, right?
Well, sometimes life just sucks. Sometimes it's mean, ugly, sad, dangerous, and confusing. March 30th, a beautiful day for a million other reasons, will always have a note of this darkness surrounding it. A year ago today, on a set of train tracks in the middle of the night, my friend Lindsay Huenink took her own life.
I was in Spain when the e-mail entitled "Sad News..." from my camp director popped up in my inbox. I had volunteered as a camp counselor (where I also was a camper as a kid) for the past three summers and my fellow counselor Lindsay was one of the most vibrant girls I'd ever met. She was a girl who was just intrinsically popular and you had to love her. Always up to something fun, always laughing, always with friends, and of course always some guy was after her and that blonde hair. God gave her an inner spirit that was contagious. She was a senior in high school, a week before her prom, and with a pretty cool future ahead of her. I know it's kind to say these types of things about people after they pass on, but with Lindsay it's true. She just had that "IT" factor. She and her best friend Jackie were co-counselors together. Two young and beautiful kindred spirits.
|Some bunk bed shenanigans with the 5th grade |
boy cabin. Lindsay's the bombshell to my right.
So when I heard the news, I was just confused. I felt all of those emotions people tell me I'm supposed to feel when someone ends their own life: anger that she would do this to those of us left behind, love for her as I miss her spirit and wish I could laugh at something ridiculous she says one more time, and immense sadness for her that she had such a heaviness to bear on her own. A darkness that she thought she had to carry alone. My heart breaks for her family as this date comes around this year and each one after. I think of Jackie a lot and wonder how it would feel to lose your best friend like that. Ugh. What a helpless feeling.
So what should we say? I think the answer has to be found in her life, not her death. That ugly seven-letter S-word (that I just can't bring myself to type) that characterized her death cannot characterize her life. A bright girl like her can't be defined by a darkness like that. What we can look at are those years she was here and the impact she did make. Each year I saw firsthand the way 5th and 6th grade girls in her cabin looked up to her and caught her spirit. She passed it on to her family, friends, even to me in those three summers we led at camp together. Her passing is a reminder to guard one another against that heavy darkness, a reminder to ensure that no one feels that they must carry that burden alone. When I think of Lindsay, I get reminded to Shine On, to keep fighting off that darkness for myself and others every day. I get reminded to rely on the assurance that the darkness may have claimed her earthly life, but has absolutely no say in her eternal one.
I'm friends with the One who can explain it all and hopefully someday will. He knows what he's doing and he's got Lindsay right in his grip, where she's always been. So I guess it's a good thing I don't have to explain everything. Because when it comes to Lindsay, I just can't.