Dear friends and family,
I've taken a brief recess from my blog, but I'm now ready to share my grief and continue blogging. Last week, two dear friends from Hudson were in a car accident in northern Wisconsin. One friend suffered serious injuries, but she is now (thankfully!) home and healing. My other friend, Anna Rose Shoemaker, suffered traumatic head injuries and was air-lifted to Duluth, but later passed away on Thursday, January 13.
Anna was 21 years old, a junior at UW-Madison, and just days away from departing for a semester abroad. She was my sister's age and our mothers are the best of friends. I've known Anna since we were kids, and my earliest memories include biking around our childhood neighborhood (Anna had a banana-seat bike that I was crazy-jealous of). Over the years there were camping trips, shopping trips, WI Dells trips, as well as the mandatory pre-teen N'Sync music video re-makes, trampoline sessions, and countless arts 'n' crafts. Throughout middle school, Anna made a place for herself as a sharp and involved student. By the time high school rolled around, she was an energetic girl with a flair for organization and creativity.
It's hard not to focus on what we've lost, and what the world is missing without Anna. She was blessed with an extraordinary combination of personal strengths and skills: organization, analytical aptitude, creativity, leadership, loyalty, and faith. She's had a huge effect on the community of Hudson, and I'm simply devastated that we've lost a woman with such potential and such deep devotion to her Creator.
Nothing has been harder for me to accept, than the fact that I cannot tell her all this, and that I can't tell her I love her. Did she know? Did she know how deeply I admired her? Did she know that I imagined huge things for her life? Most of all, did she know I loved her?
In hopes that Spirits hear the Living after they've left the temporal world, and in hopes that you're listening to my heart right now Anna, these words are for you:
I love you. I praise the Lord I have known you. Please know that even though your existence has changed forms, you are continuing to change me, and to change the world. I'll never forget you,
I never expected this to be a part of my experience in Ghana, but it will be a defining part of this month and of my life, I'm sure. As it should be, I'm again reminded of the fragility of life, but I'm also grateful to be in a place that also rigorously reminds me that the sun rises and sets, and the days come and go, gracefully.
On Tuesday, when friends and family gather to remember you, I'll be thinking of you too. In my heart, I'll gather up this red Ghanaian dust, and it will always be with me, and always remind me of you, Anna Rose Shoemaker.