The night was sticky and scorching even with the sun setting. The air conditioning broke in my car last summer, so my windows were rolled down and I had my arm out the window, letting my fingertips touch the breeze.
I saw something in the dusky sky when I turned on the road toward my town. I looked to my left and noticed a group of people, scattered but clearly gathering. They were at a cemetery. They were lighting lanterns and floating them up into the night sky.
I immediately pulled my car to the side of the road, pushed my hazard lights on, and watched.
Tears sprang into my eyes. I wondered briefly who the people were honoring with their lanterns, but all I could think of was my beautiful friend Tat. Tat died in a car accident almost two years ago. Floating lanterns can’t help but remind me of her. A few summers ago, while she was alive, we lit lanterns together — like that scene from the Disney movie Tangled.
A week after she died, our church lit lanterns in her honor. A year later — almost a year after her death — I saw a floating lantern randomly light up the night sky as I drove home from work.
God keeps sending me lanterns. They remind me of Tat and of God’s tender love and kindness. They remind me that God hasn’t forgotten.
It’s been almost two years since Tat went to be with Jesus. Two years without her on Earth. This year was different from the last. Last year held all firsts — everything was new, every day another impossible anniversary to navigate.
And yet . . . she is gone — like a novel ending abruptly mid-sentence. It makes no sense, and even two years later, it’s hard to comprehend.
In the months after her death, the grief was a tsunami. Social media swarmed with photos and mementos of her — people sharing story after story, trying to grasp any moment they shared with her. Thousands came to her funeral. People shared her blog posts, brilliant words she penned that still continue to resonate.
But now, years later, the social media posts are few and far between, save for her parents and close friends.
And I wonder if people will forget her. I have photos of Tat — tacked on my fridge, hung on my walls, as bookmarks in my Bible, dangling from my rear view window — anything to remind me of her.
Two years in and I wonder: Will people forget my friend? Will the grief that once stabbed us fade into a bruise? Will people move on and forget the beautiful life Tat lived?
Maybe they will. But God won’t.
God isn’t limited to time or emotional capacity or memory. He holds every single thing about you in the palm of His hand — from the number of hairs on your head to each prayer you utter, whether audible or not. He holds every sharp shard of grief, every unspoken dream, every frustration, every ache in your heart — safe in the care of His hands.
He cares about the birds and the flowers, and He cares infinitely more about you (Matthew 6:25-34 NIV).
He knows everything about the day Tat died, each detail I may never know, and He knows everything about my grief, two years later. People are forgetful and people move on, but God remains right beside us.
Even when it feels like everyone else has forgotten — when the social media posts end, when the hashtags are gone, when the meals stop showing up, when no one texts you to check in and see how you are — God hasn’t forgotten.
He sees you, right where you are. Two years or ten years or fifty years later, He still sees you.
That night, I sat in my car and watched the lanterns float higher and higher. The grief isn’t as sharp almost two years later. I wiped a tear from my eye but didn’t weep. It was a bittersweet sadness deep within my chest: I was grateful to be reminded of her, and yet I ached, knowing she is gone.
I watched them drift into the sky, their fiery light dimming the further they floated. I thanked God for another sign of His personal kindness and unrelenting love.
I whispered a prayer to God for Tat, “Tell her I miss her. Tell her I love her. Tell her I can’t wait to see her someday.”
Even if it feels like the world has forgotten, God hasn’t. He hasn’t forgotten about you, He hasn’t forgotten about Tat, and He hasn’t forgotten about me.
In fact, He keeps sending lanterns to remind me.
People are forgetful and people move on, but God remains right beside us. #grief #loss -@alizalatta: Click To Tweet