I don’t how heaven works exactly. So this may be totally wrong. But I have a hunch that a few of Glory’s citizens shine a little brighter than the rest.
I think Alyssa is one of them.
If her smile lit up a room here on earth, if her zest for life and shining eyes were near magic, her joy contagious, here, then doesn’t it just make sense that her bright life light would become even brighter when she is restored in heaven to the fullness of who God created her to be?
Yes, I think it does.
So I’m gonna say with confidence full that on Tuesday, September 23 at 12:20 a.m. heaven welcomed one of those rare and glorious bright lights.
I hadn’t seen Alyssa in ten years.
But I bet people who read my Facebook feed about her, friends who answered my pleas to pray for her, probably thought she was one of my closest friends. I’m sure they assumed she was one of my meet-at-the-park-every-Monday friends or drink-coffee-with-at-MOMS-ministry-every-other-Thursday friends or call-and-text-every-day, doing-life-together friends.
But she wasn’t. She was a friend from college days gone by who was now just a Facebook friend who exchanged “likes” on each others’ status updates and crazy kid pics.
So was I deceiving or misleading when I shared about Alyssa? Not at all. Because when a friend leaves a lasting mark on your heart, it doesn’t matter that a decade and 440 California miles separated you. She is still your heart sister, forever friend.
What I remember most about Alyssa and our years sharing secrets on dorm room beds and weekends spent away at college ministry retreats is her infectious smile. Her joy wasn’t fake or trite; she was a genuine light. A light that leaned in when she asked, “How are you doing, Becky?” A light that held on a little longer than others would when she hugged you hurting or hugged you happy. A light that shined Jesus because that’s how God made her: beautiful, shimmering, bright.
She was radiant.
And when we both walked across the graduation stage and parted ways into marriage and lives of working and mothering and moving miles apart, I could still see her light shining from across the computer screen. Sounds silly. But it’s true. True that her smile was still contagious whether in person or in pixels.
Even cancer couldn’t snuff out her light.
My brave friend went through a mastectomy and chemotherapy while pregnant with her second sweet baby. She fought with joy and it seemed the battle had been won.
But when the cancer came back, ugly and aggressive and everywhere, Alyssa never took her eyes off the One who is the Light.
This is what she shared on Facebook the day the scan results came back:
It is not good news. I have Stage 4 cancer. It is in my arm, lungs, liver, bones, and brain. We pray that chemo and radiation (and God!) will work a miracle, but we do not expect one. “All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live.”
Light in darkness. Hope in death.
My Precious Friend,
You are now living fully in His presence. Soak it up.
I know I’ll see you again one day. You, the one who SHINES SO BRIGHT.
If you would like to support Alyssa’s family, a fund has been set up. Click here to give.
Additional posts about sweet Alyssa:
March 11, 2013: Always Joy (Part Two)
April 11, 2014: A Letter to God in the Pain
September 23, 2014: Death and Chocolate and God’s Nearness