March 7, 2008
March 7th was just another unremarkable day as we awaited Hannah's first appointment with the radiologist at CARTI. So I thought I would share another glimpse into Hannah's personality in today's post.
Not long after she went to Heaven, I was going through some bookshelves and discovered a book that said "Hannah Joy Sullivan" on the spine. I quickly pulled it out, and found that it was a book that she made in her eighth-grade GT class. It was an autobiography, complete with pictures. I had completely forgotten that we even had it.
She drew the cover picture, which is a bell (my mom always called her "Hannah Bell") with five self-descriptive words under it..."joyful", "optimistic", "sweet", "Christian", "caring". The first page put a lump in my throat ... "Dedicated to My Amazing Family". She begins with a chapter called "Before Me", in which she states that her parents were so ecstatic when she was born that we gave her the middle name "Joy", which is true! That initial chapter is followed by a chapter for each year of her life. It was so much fun reading all of these chapters, and looking at all the photographs she included. The one that really got to me, though, was the final chapter, which was titled "My Future Possibilities", and reads as follows:
"As I think about the future, I get so excited because I know my future is bright. I love to think about what is to come, and I do constantly. I plan to graduate high school with a 4.0 and at the top of my class. Then, I would like to enroll in Ouachita Baptist University with a full or almost full paid scholarship, and study elementary education to become an elementary teacher. I'd graduate with a bachelor's degree from OBU, and then go somewhere for my master's degree in teaching. I would hope to be married by the time I graduated college, so I would settle down in a small town in Arkansas and start a family (and teach). When I'm old enough to retire, I will probably move closer to where my grandkids live so I could be close to them and watch them grow up. I want to live a long, happy, healthy and content life that I can look back on someday and be proud of. And maybe someday I'll read this book and I'll think, "Wow, I did just that!""
... As you can imagine, reading this paragraph, especially the last part, felt like a punch in the stomach. It literally left me almost breathless for a few minutes. How can someone so excited and full of plans for the future just be gone? How can her innocent desire for a long and healthy life be so unfulfilled?
And God had to gently remind me of something I already know. As we talk with other bereaved parents, one of the things we discuss is God's sovereignty...the fact that He is in control in and through every situation. As Hannah's illness progressed and it became apparent that, without a miracle, she would be leaving us for Heaven, we felt that we were being called to submit to His will for her life and for ours. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans that I have for you,...plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope." Hannah's future was in His hands ... she had her own plans, we had our plans for her ... but God had another plan. What seemed to be a calamity to us was the best thing that ever happened to her!
We will never completely understand why Hannah's wish for a long and healthy life was unfulfilled on this earth. However, she said that she wanted to be able to look back on her life someday and be proud of it. I think that if she could see the lives that have been touched through her relatively short life (and I think maybe she can in Heaven), she would be proud. I know I'm proud of her.