Hannah's birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, which always has a tendency to put me in a bit of a melancholy mood. She would be 22 years old on the 22nd of this month ... her "golden birthday", as we used to call it when we were kids. And what's more striking than that to me is that this will be the fifth birthday she is spending in Heaven. How is it possible that that much time has passed since we celebrated her 17th birthday here on earth? And honestly, it was hard to "celebrate" her 17th birthday, because we knew that, without a miracle, it would be the last one we would enjoy with her here.
I've been thinking lately about things that have happened since Hannah's last earthly birthday ... things she would be surprised by if she knew about them. And who knows ... maybe she does! So, here are ten things that I think would really surprise my girl ...
1. Probably her biggest surprise would be finding out that her "baby" sister, Bethany, is engaged ... and to one of her old friends and classmates. I can just see her smiling and shaking her head about that. She'd be thrilled.
2. She'd also be surprised that that same baby sister won a state championship in both high jump and softball her senior year. As her biggest fan, Hannah would be very proud of her!
3. She'd be shocked to know that her dad has a new job ... as Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Fountain Lake Schools. She'd be proud of him, too!
4. She would be surprised (and excited) to find out that she has a new cousin on the way!! Yes, her Aunt Sarah and Uncle Byron are going to break from Sullivan tradition, and have a third baby. Maybe, after eight girls, we'll finally get our boy. Now that would be a surprise to all of us!
5. She would be surprised (and dismayed) by the current state of our government.
6. She would be surprised by the prevalence of technology today. The first generation iPhone had only been out about a year when she turned 17, and the iPad was still a figment of Steve Jobs's imagination.
7. She would be surprised by all the mutations American Idol has gone through, the fact that there is no more John & Kate Plus Eight, and the popularity of Duck Dynasty (which she would love, by the way)!
8. She would be surprised that so many people have heard about her and her story. She was never one to seek the spotlight, and she would be shocked (but pleased) to know that the story of her faith in the face of cancer had touched so many lives.
9. She would be surprised by the ministry of While We're Waiting, and that the cornerstone of that ministry is the retreats we host for bereaved parents. She, more than probably anyone else, knows that I've never been a "retreat person" ... as a natural introvert, I've never enjoyed big get-togethers, especially with a bunch of people I've never met! But that leads into #10 ...
10. She would be surprised to see how God has changed her mom, dad, and sister over the last five years. How our perspective has changed from the temporary to the eternal, and how our priorities have been completely and totally altered. How we've come to understand what the Bible means by "The peace that passes understanding", and how God has used the prayers of others to carry us on the days that we couldn't walk on our own. And how we spend each day looking forward to the day we'll see her again ... but in the meantime, how God continues to help us live well while we're waiting.