I watched her walk around the corner of the house as she waved goodbye, and the same thought that flits through my head whenever one of my precious ones leave for a trip . . well, it flitted. 

"What if this is the last time I see her?"

Like always, I tried to ignore the thought or rationalize. Most accidents happen close to home. But what is it about a trip that makes it seem more dangerous?

Then I did the same thing I always do. I prayed, and I released. Life's reality is too real for me to believe bad things won't happen to me and mine. I know how fragile our lives are. So I do what only makes sense and trust the One who is in control.

Yesterday was the last day of a short vacation at our family's river house. We'd arrived in stages with four cars, and Emily was the first to leave. Just a couple hours later I received the tragic news that one of her friends had been killed in a car accident the night before. I called Em, who was still on the road, and shared the news with her. We cried.

Josh and his friend were preparing to leave, and now the usual "flitting" thought was pounding. I hugged Josh a little longer and asked him to please drive carefully, trying not to sound like I was pleading.

Later, driving home behind Jeff with the remaining kids divided between us, I thought about my friend, the young girl's mother, and my chest ached. I'd see her soon I guess, at her daughter's funeral. I'd see many other friends we haven't seen since we moved two years ago. Friends I'd planned to see at an upcoming wedding.

Isn't that where reunions at this stage of life are supposed to be? Graduations, weddings, in a few years baby showers. But funerals? 

We talked in the car of life. How precious it is . . how tentative. How we don't know how many days we have, but we do know that there's one less after today. And how that makes today such a gift. I told my son that I want to lay my head down each night and wake each day with only gratitude for the day given. That I want to love like this is the only day I have. Because it is.

"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

The normal noise and music and antics didn't annoy me like they usually do on the three hour ride home. I only felt thanks for their lives and how I get to share in the beauty of it all.

We arrived home late, piled out, and I browsed through the pile of mail. It was the normal bills and junk  mail.

And a wedding invitation.

In the midst of overwhelming sorrow and loss, there is hope. For as fragile as it is, life is a lion. It refuses to be silenced by pain. 

"Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5

There will be a reunion this week, and we will mourn. But even in the midst of deep sorrow our hearts are comforted and full of hope in a God who has overcome death and in the knowledge that Julia is with Him.

And we will look forward to reuniting again as life roars.

In honor and memory of Julia Elisabeth Green 3/23/1993 - 7/7/2012