I imagine every parent who loses a child feels a desire to carry on their child's legacy. I know I did... I do. It is so difficult to determine what to do with that.
After Katie died, my hands felt so empty. And yet they also felt heavy. Heavy with a sense of responsibility. As Katie's mom, my role when she was living was to nurture her. After she died, I still felt that. But I didn't have a life to nurture, I only had a story. A story of a life. I shared with my pastor, Andy, that I felt this responsibility to do something with Katie's story. And he told me, "Sarah, God will take care of doing something with her story. That isn't your job. But you can choose to be a part of it."
I thought about that a long time. And I started asking God, What do you want me to do with this? I literally held out my hands and figuratively held out the story of Katie's life along with my memories, my pain and my healing. When a friend or stranger shared that they appreciated the words I wrote as I sorted through my thoughts and feelings, I took that to God, saying again, What do you want me to do with this?
Over and over I asked, What do you want me to do with this? Then one day, I felt God's Spirit answer me. He said, "You're asking the wrong question. God will take care of the 'with it' part. You just need to ask, 'God, what do you want me to do?'" Wow. That was huge for me. If I followed through with what God wanted me to do, he would do something with it.
So I changed my question. From then on, I began asking, God, what do you want me to do? When I felt the urge to write, I prayed, God, I think I want to write something today, but what do you want me to do? That's it. A simple question. What do you want me to do? And then I added, And you do something with it.
That's how Katie's Story began. Every time I asked, he answered. So I wrote another story... another memory... another struggle. I told Chad I had no idea what would become of all of it. He assured me that if all the stories of Katie's life were simply for us to remember, it would be completely worth it. So I agreed. I would do it, although I had no idea what God would do with it.
As my writings began to grow into pages and pages of random stories, I received a message from a friend, seemingly out of the blue. My friend is a beautiful woman who is just a step ahead of me in life and who deeply enjoys her relationship with God. Coincidentally (but not really) she is also a writer. God placed her back into my life exactly when I needed a spiritual mentor and a writing mentor. She willingly offered her hand when the pain of remembering threatened to hold me back, and she encouraged me to "just write the stories and God will put it together."
So that is what I did. I asked the question. Then I wrote the stories. And God put it all together. It's beautiful. And really hard. You will definitely smile. But you might also get angry. And sad. Through it all, you will find healing. And by the end, I think you will find hope.
I am excited for you to read Katie's Story, anticipated to be available in May 2020. And whatever God wants to do with it is okay with me.