three years ago, this beauty took her last moment on earth and her sweet soul went alongside a cluster of yellow balloons up to Heaven.
i cannot believe it has already been three years since that day. i was on a cross country team with amanda riley, and our team shared an incredible bond. and i think i speak for all of them, no matter how far away, that because of amanda, we will never truly lose that bond.
i truly believe there is nothing good you can say about cancer. yes, the Lord promises to work even the evil in the world together for good. but cancer itself, there is nothing good in it. it is an adversary to life; an adversary to hope. it is one of the most poignant examples of the brokenness of this world and the ways that sin has permeated our lives. the world is broken, so cancer exists, and time after time its cruelty and unfairness sweeps its way into the lives of those we care about deeply.
the day amanda died, i think we all grew up. i found this earlier this week and knew the timing was perfect. i wrote this right after amanda left us, and reading it again takes me back to the day of her visitation perfectly.
“well there we were: the eight, now seven of us, gathered in a circle; hearts stung by the recent break. Hadn’t it been just last week we were sitting in the same circle, holding hands around lemonade and homemade cookies at our weekly prayer meeting? “Dare to hope” had become our mantra; there was just no way she was going to die. There was no way, because we had so much hope. As we stood outside the visitation home, in exactly the same formation we had held a week ago in a warm basement, it seemed so surreal. Seven girls standing in a circle, surrounded but all so alone in their own thoughts. It had been a little over a year since we heard first heard the news. Since then life had whirled past, our beloved friend had come and gone from the hospital, come and gone from the good news to the bad. A year ago, we had stood in a circle just like this while our coach explained to us that she would not be running track that spring that she had cancer, and we had all stood there, shocked and red eyed from sobbing. Today, was different, none of us were crying. We had all cried enough tears for that day, as moments before we had stared at our beautiful friend’s face, so calm and different than the struggling girl we had visited two weeks ago. She was breathtaking, always had been the beautiful one of the team. As we stood there circled and holding hands, no words seemed adequate. How do you comfort six other mourning girls when your own heart is being ripped to shreds?”
cancer is wrong. it should not be here. it does not belong. or more importantly, we do not belong. we belong to a better world, a world with no cancer, a world with no heartache or loss.but even in grief, hope can be spurred and amanda’s parents are the most beautiful picture of that hope today. as i grow older, i continue to be amazed by their hearts, their strength and generosity and desire to give back.
the year after amanda died, her parents started the amanda riley foundation to brighten the lives of other kids with cancer. it is amazing to watch as a community comes together time and time again to support the foundation, the legacy of a girl we all still love and remember dearly.
and that’s the most important thing on weeks like this– to take a moment and remember. there is nothing good in cancer, but there is good that arises in us when we seek to fight the brokenness that it creates in this world.