It seemed like a bad dream. Within twenty-four hours, my family received reports of two separate awful events that resulted in the death of two friends of ours. They were both college students. The sudden shock of the news was heightened by the knowledge of the lives these two girls had lived. They were not wasting their lives on useless endeavors. Neither of them engaged in activities that brought harm to them or to those around them. In fact, both of the young ladies had proclaimed a commitment to live for a higher purpose than for themselves. It seemed to make no sense that their lives had ended when they were just at the cusp of fulfilling lifelong dreams.
One of those students was Jessica. Jessica touched my life one summer when she came to my home for piano lessons. She was getting ready to leave for college in the fall and had decided to major in Music Education. In preparation for her upcoming classes, she wanted to “brush up” on her music theory. For a couple of months, we worked side by side on music concepts. I was impressed with Jessica’s quiet confidence and her persistence in reaching her goals. She moved on to college, and I saw her from a distance several times for the next few years. I had no idea what an impact her gentle life would make on me and many others.
Jessica was student -teaching in East Texas–a college senior looking forward to graduating and starting her adult life as a music teacher– fulfilling her desire to have a lasting influence, especially on the next generation. That dream was shattered early one morning when she was killed in a tragic car accident. Or was it?
The funeral, originally scheduled to be held in a chapel, was moved to a larger building to accommodate the crowd. That crowd was made up of all ages–children Jessica had supervised, friends of her younger brother and sister, fellow college choir members, adults who had mentored Jess during her younger days. During the service, although hearts were heavy, a sense of joy pervaded that sanctuary. As Jessica’s short life was reviewed and her quiet accomplishments were honored, her dream was coming to fruition.
We all were made aware of the gift of each new day. Young people were challenged to live a life of purpose and purity. Adults were reminded of the urgency of passing down our faith to those walking behind us. Our cloudy vision of Heaven was brought into focus by being reminded that for the believer, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
As evidenced by her own words and actions, Jessica’s passion was to encourage and serve the people around her and to make them aware of God’s love and His gift of forgiveness through His Son. Her short journey and sudden death may appear to some to have been a shattered dream. But those of us who trust the One that Jessica lived for see her dream just beginning to be fulfilled…