Jubilee’s goodbye letter as shared during 1:10:00-1:17:23 of today’s Celebration of Life live stream: https://youtu.be/xUD-NkRrzvk
For almost two weeks, I’ve been trying to find the words. There’s so much I want to say but don’t know how. So, I’ll start with the obvious.
I love you. Not more than you know, but as you now know.
Indeed, in this moment, I write to you within the ultimate paradox. Having fought with you for 13 months along with your mom and two of the world’s best NICU medical teams, I was desperate to see you experience fullness, not just of health but of life, love, and whatever joy you could possibly know within your fragile state. Now, look at you, all smitten and sassy, safe in the Father’s arms aware of that fullness in ways I can’t possibly understand. The world’s greatest former micro preemie fighter…at peace with her Creator. His breath is in your lungs as you pour out your praise.
No question, you challenged and changed many hearts from the ones entrusted to your care to ones who barely knew you. From your primaries to prayer partners across the globe, you reminded us how special each day truly is, and how much the present is a gift you can never take for granted. Packed within a year of forced rest, you compelled us to take baby steps into unchartered belief, to ride the waves far out of our depth.
Yet, through it all, we fell in love with His might and light in your fight. Christ in you, Christ in us, we learned how to be content at the end of our rope. how to fall and press into Jesus at the same time, not to mention the technical terms, the bells, and whistles of a brave, new world.
Often, there was much to take in, much beyond our ability to process. And so, we prayed. Every day. Without ceasing…that the same Spirit behind your smile, that fueled your tenacity would be known across the hall, down the aisle, from the parking lot and front desk to each emergency, operating, and visitation room. Every day. A chance to stiff-arm the ‘why’ and embrace the strive-less rhythms of grace. Every day. An opportunity.to gaze into your eyes to find God looking back at us through them.
In a way, you inspired joy in persevering through chaos and crisis. You taught us how being still in weakness is, in fact, strength. And you reminded us how surrender must also rise with hope, how to embrace those mini-Gethsemane moments throughout each day: Not my will but yours be done.
To your mother and I, your sister and brothers, we marvel at the vessel God designed you to be, the way you took in unity, prayer, and love and churned out life upon life on the other side. Granted, your days were numbered less than what we would have hoped. Still, we know in this grand mystery, there is purpose, hope, and freedom within the appointed number of days God called to your earthly tenure.
And so, I stand here with a new appreciation of the question I must ask. For it is not, ‘Why did God let you die’, but rather ‘Why did God let you live?’
Past day 1 when you had no business surviving traumatic labor at 25 weeks. Past day 80, when both your lungs collapsed. Past days 290-340 during which you coded over 15 times.
Why did God let you live?
While your family and I will have many years to discern the answers, for now, I want you to know it is well in my soul God called you to reflect childlike faith, wonder, and helplessness for 393 precious days and it is well in my heart God anointed you to inspire NICU personnel and families towards the loving arms of Jesus, to help them consider what is it that kept you going, kept fighting, and kept defying the darkest of diagnoses.
As for ending this letter, having embarked on this joyful journey like no other, I ask one more question, one I’ll be sharing with many who know and will know your story. And that is, based on the legacy of your life, ‘How is it we must never be the same again?’ To quote your great grandmother whose husband you now know, “you were a diamond loaned to us from God’s ‘stash’, a pure, bright, beautiful solitaire to show us how beautiful heaven must be.” Of course, with your former limitations and restrictions on earth, a celestial, prismatic perspective may seem farfetched. But to me and your family and friends sitting in this room today, the metaphor hits home. Like a unified tribe, we’re all witnesses to how you reflected eternity through epic resilience. From a micro-preemie plagued by chronic lung disease and pulmonary hypertension to one born again into paradise, we celebrate not only your victory and triumph over sickness and death but relish the truth that for thousands of people, your face is now a thumbnail capturing the kind of Romans 5 endurance they want to run the rest of their life with.
Creds to the Master. Tell Him we’re forever grateful for the Year of Jubilee, for having the chance to love and support you as your immediate and extended family. True, there was a lot of pain amidst the patience and perseverance during your short life. But as C.S. Lewis once said, while God whispers to us in our pleasures and speaks in our consciences, He shouts in our pain. For it is pain that insists on being attended to as His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. So, as we say goodbye in this setting, as a community who loves you, we declare the voice you now have via the Almighty as one that will heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and announce favor and grace to those who mourn. The joy of the Lord as your strength, help prepare the way for the risen Lord.
After all, the season’s changing and God is rebuilding everything. So, we will listen with humble hearts, with gladness and gratitude, to the people shouting, ‘This is Jubilee’.
With sincerest affection and adoration,