I had deliberated a bit on how best to approach my friend yesterday. I am cautious not to perpetuate an ‘anniversary’ of death, as I believe there is a risk, many times significant, that placing an emphasis on the date our loved ones left us behind may turn septic. I don’t want to disrespect anyone working through loss, but in kind I cannot freely build up the arbitrary date in which they woke up on the other side. I’d rather think of their lives, how they lived, and remember as best I can the joy and even some of the sorrows, rather than a date. Why? Because I’m human and I get sad. Nobody wishes for sadness. But sometimes that sadness is thrust upon us no matter how hard we try to be rid of it.
Can you feel the puppy licking your own face in this photo? I can…
I remember when Dutch’s brother, Pat, called to tell me Olivia was gone and explain to me the events surrounding her death. I was terribly saddened, but did my best to keep those feelings in check while we talked on the phone. I could tell the burden associated with making so many of these personal calls to people were taking a toll on him, so I believed it best to simply respond back to him and follow in support as Pat guided me through the conversation. I stopped afterward to pray for a few moments, then called my wife. She and I cried together. Our daughter has a special bond with Olivia, but one we’ll keep private and not share. That little slice of life is just for us and the Deutmeyer family.
The flood of memories washed over me as I searched back through the conversations I’d held with Dutch over the years. Olivia struggled. That’s the plain and simple truth. If there is one universal truth too few people grasp, it is the fact that the dark one stalks us without reprieve. He wishes to have us, and he is relentless. This picture was apparently taken during a time when Olivia was in a recovery center down in Florida. I can recall the conversation between Dutch and I as if it were yesterday. He explained to me that money was no object and he wanted her to have the best treatment he could find. So, as a dad, he did just that. I look at this picture and can’t help but feel a tremendous sense of reality when I see her emerging from a box labeled, “FRAGILE, HANDLE WITH CARE”…
If you ever spoke with Olivia, you knew what it was like to realize the definition of, “Come as you are” for she didn’t know a stranger. As a relatively unattractive person, I used to be somewhat apprehensive around really attractive people because I wasn’t among them in the context of social construct. While Olivia qualified for magazine covers, that’s neither how she viewed the world, nor how she carried herself. Everyone was met with huge smiles and a warm greeting.
The whole time this vibrant, bright, and talented young woman, who was backed by loving family and aid was giving you and I caring and attention, a war raged on the inside. Her struggle can’t be overstated.
I ponder often how many people I’ve walked past on the sidewalk or stood beside in the check out line of a store, that were wrestling with achieving mortality. I then wonder if I could have helped in some small way, but didn’t. I, like many of you, simply do not offer Jesus to people like I should. Sure, I share the Gospel, but am I doing so the way He intended? No. I am not. After all, there will come a time that I will be forced to account for all my time here on this Earth. Will I be able to tell Him I did the best with what I had? No. If I am taken upon hitting the “publish” button on this blog, I will have fallen woefully short.
What will it mean for someone like Olivia to have a friend remind them they are loved?
#JesusSaves isn’t a bumper sticker… It truly is a way of life and one I’m thankful to better understand the more light I seek. If I could save everyone, I would. But I can’t. The beauty of our existence and curse of our reach is that we’re forced to do this one step at a time. Some of us plant seeds, others water them, others yet shine sunlight so the seed grows, and so on. My prayer is and continues to be that I can help bring His children to Christ and their lives are saved unto Him. …And the fact of matter is, it won’t happen if I’m not actively engaged in sharing the Gospel.
Matthew 28:19 – Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
Thank you Olivia. I won’t forget.