I called someone to check and they verified the news. When you hear something like that, it is like the air is sucked out of the room. You just sit there and try to figure out what happened. Staci was a wonderful person. She served as the youth secretary for a while, and I worked with her on a couple of events with Defender. Her sister and I worked together for a while at the church - she was the Education Secretary. Both of them were in the choir and sang solos. Staci was beautiful and funny (often at her own expense) - and she battle many of the same demons I do. She always poked fun of herself and felt bad about her weight - something I do as well. I really enjoyed talking with her. And Heather thought she was great. We never spent a ton of time with her, but the time we spent was more than enough to convince us she was great.
And she was gone - just like that.
Forty-three year old women don't just die. Their husbands don't come home from work and find them. Their teenagers don't have to learn how to mourn so fast. Their daughters shouldn't have to deal with that on their high school graduation day! That isn't supposed to happen. Death is supposed to be reserved for people who have lived their lives. That's what we tell ourselves. It is a coping mechanism to help us deal with the terrifying concept of death. When death dare encroach on our comfort zone - when it claims a child or a young person or a mom, that just isn't right. It throws our entire life into chaos. We don't like the thought that death is no respecter of person or age or gender.
Staci's death was a huge shock to everyone. I was up at First Baptist today for about an hour working on something and everyone was moving a bit slower. It was like there was a huge cloud over the whole place. The tragedy was never far from anyone's mind. And everyone was just trying to figure it all out. To a person, everyone talked about what a sweet and wonderful person she was, how hard it was to picture her kids dealing with this, how badly her sister Darlene was hurting. We have no idea how to deal with stuff like this. It makes you mad - but who are you mad at? It makes you cry - but what about? The ones who left or the ones who were left?
These are the moments I hate as a minister. I don't have any better understanding of this than anyone else. I can offer up the reassurance that God has mastered and beaten death. I can say that at least we know she is in Jesus' presence. But, seriously, does that help much? It will help in the healing process. But today, we all want to know why and how and can it happen to us. Most of all, we just hurt and want that to stop. Maybe it is good to have to think about this once in a while - not in a morbid way. It makes you a little less frivolous with your time. It makes you be a little more careful to not take your precious ones for granted. And it makes you a little more aware of people around you - less self-absorbed. I know that it did all of that for me today.
And if you think of it, please offer a prayer for Staci's family. If she was that special to the people around her, I can imagine how hard it is for those closest to her.