A Gem of Hope

chrissie

 

My best friend, Chrissie, died in a car accident when I was almost sixteen. When the FaithWriters Weekly Writing Challenge called for autobiographical stories, I wrote the following story about our friendship and her death, which “shocked me and rocked all securities in a phase of life that is insecure enough in itself” (Destination Italy, page 73).


Chrissie and I

Chrissie and I were like sisters; straight blond hair, glasses, and acne. Side by side, we faced our inferiority complexes. We wrote in each other’s secret diaries. Together, we fell in love with faraway idols and with schoolboys who vaguely resembled them—and who, like our idols, didn’t notice us either.

A rap on the door drags me out of deep sleep. The grey light of dawn breaks through the caravan windows. Who can that be, at this hour? I hear my father getting up. Soft voices, a muffled cry. Then my father enters the small room, his eyes horrified. His mouth utters the unthinkable.

Woodpeckers and blackbirds provided the music for the campsite where our families each had a caravan. Moss was the sofa where we did our homework–and giggled about that handsome teacher. Lying on our backs, we gazed at the endless sky through pine tree crowns and dreamed of future fame and fortune. Throwing cones at sturdy trunks, we complained about how our parents just didn’t understand us.

“Nooooo!” I stumble out of bed. “How—what happened? She can’t—nooo!” Passing by a mirror, I catch a glimpse of my contorted face, my heart-broken wails reaching far beyond the caravan walls.

The dike of a highway in construction served as our belvedere over the world. We pondered love and hate, peace and war. We wrote a letter to the US President, urging him to end all the fights on earth, as well as a letter of rejection to the marriage proposal from a French boy Chrissie had met during a holiday.

Amid the tumult of Monday morning class, I lay my head down on my arms. The school desk rattles under my sobbing body. “Hey, why are you laughing?” My classmate’s eyes reveal her shock as she sees my tears. The rector enters the room with a solemn face. “This weekend, a terrible accident took place…” Soon everyone is crying.

The portable radio in Chrissie’s bicycle basket broadcast our favorite pop songs. We sang along at the top of our lungs with Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles, while we cycled to the park where we would eat our sandwiches and drink our Cokes. We spent hours recalling last Saturday’s experiences–our first-ever visit to a discotheque, where we had drunk beer and collapsed into fits of irrepressible laughter, nullifying our painstaking efforts to look mature through a lot of makeup.

A brief look—an everlasting image etches itself into my mind. That can’t be Chrissie—she never wore her hair like that. Where are her glasses? What’s that small Band-Aid doing on her left temple? My vision blurs, my legs give way.

In her moonlit bedroom, I was lying In Chrissie’s romantic four-poster; she slept on the couch. We talked far into the night about faith, heaven, and God. All of a sudden, we were overwhelmed with inexplicable joy. Unable to stop smiling, we decided that God must be in the room.

The enormous church is too small to contain all the mourners—the entire school is here. Among hundreds of teenagers, I’m anonymous. Who am I? I was Chrissie’s best friend. Now she’s gone.

We drank tea and burned incense. In the smoky room, Chrissie told me that she would meet a group of young Christians. Despite the divine experience we had shared, I didn’t want to join her. How could a loving God be in control, while the world was full of injustice and suffering? How could I believe in creation, while science claimed evolution?

The majestic sound of organ pipes fills the church. The mourners, hesitant at first, start singing in unison, “The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want…”*

After that fateful night, when Chrissie died on the asphalt after being hit by a car, I was left to sail the stormy sea of life alone. Unmet expectations, bad choices, and hurtful disappointments tossed me around, dragging me in the wrong directions.

It was not until I met my Christian husband that I recognized that Jesus had always been there, ready to capture my heart, refill me with joy, and put another bubbling smile on my face.

I now cherish the countless treasures of faith that Christ bestowed upon me. Among them sparkles this gem of hope—Chrissie and I will meet again.


 

* Psalm 23, arranged by Francis Rous. Copyright: Public Domain.

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