I moved back to SC to my parents' house from NYC to go back to school and stuff and now I'm working to pay off some bills as well as getting some credits out of the way. There, for the possible one person who I'm not friends with who reads this, you're pretty much caught up on the basics of my life.
Two Sundays ago, April 30th, I went to church then went to work. Pretty standard Sunday. My church is doing a series called "How to Get Unstuck" which has been awesome because, yours truly, is still having a hard time. I'm not nearly as low and down as I was in THE post I shared last summer, but I'm still not totally great. Then I went to work and it was a rather busy day because it was the last day of a sale. I got off at 7.
I got home around 7:10/7:15-ish and walked in my house to my dad talking to my brother about school while my mom tided the kitchen. I was home for a few minutes, told my family about my day, and my mom looked down at her phone and said, "Oh crap. Heather (her sister, my aunt) called me three times in a row. I'm gonna go call her back" and she went outside.
My mom was outside for about a minute when I heard her scream. Her excited screams and her terrified screams sound the same, so, for a brief moment, I thought, "Oh! I bet someone is pregnant or engaged or something," so I ran outside only to see her sitting on the ground, sobbing, with her hand covering her mouth. I just sat next to her for a few seconds when my dad and Alex ran outside. Then she said it. My 18-year old cousin, Evan, died.
It didn't fully smack me for about a minute while I just sat there, stunned and in disbelief that those words had come out of her mouth, then I lost it. Evan Blair Campbell, my wonderful cousin, lost his life in a car accident that day.
I hear stories from people I know where they don't see family members but every few years or so. My family isn't like that. We all see each other, at the very least, twice a year at Christmas and at our summer Kiawah Island trip. My family is close. My family loves really big. My family needs each other.
I'm the oldest cousin and Evan is next in the lineup. My Aunt Heather named him Evan because I, at the mature age of four, insisted his name had to start with an E. He is my buddy. He is my partner. He is one of my best friends. We drifted as we got older and became teenagers, but we were making our way back to having a better relationship as we both were entering adulthood.
He and I and his younger sister, Erica, refer to ourselves as "The Original E's" since the E trend diminished after us and became just a girls thing. Even though the three of us were "The Originals", Evan loves one-on-one time so he used to always ask, "Emmie, can just me and you spend time?" He would always refer to our time just the two of us as "Spend Time". When we were really little, Spend Time involved some sort of animals. We often made zoos out of blocks and filled it with toy animals. Since elephants are both of our favorites, our zoos were mostly just elephant sanctuaries.
I didn't appreciate enough how much Evan valued Spend Time until I got older. He hasn't asked me to have Spend Time since he was probably 10 until last Christmas when I promised him we'd find time for just us when we would go to the beach this summer. It hurts my heart knowing we won't have one more Spend Time.
The day after Evan went to be with Jesus, we drove down to be with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. My uncle and I had been on the rocks since a fight we'd had last year, but when I saw him, I stopped caring because I realized how stupid it was and I just hugged him and sobbed. He's my family and I won't waste time I have with family on being angry about an argument anymore.
Because of how big my family loves, there were a lot of tears and hugs over that few days. I got to see Evan before he was cremated, which was the hardest thing in the world, but I knew that I'd help me process everything. Evan had Asperger's and was on the autism spectrum. When I saw Evan, lying there, a million things shot through my mind but the biggest one was "He's in Heaven. He's with Christ. He's perfect. He doesn't have Asperger's anymore."
The two weeks it's been since Evan left have been hard, but I can't remember the last time I've leaned this hard into God's love. I genuinely do not understand how people are able to grieve without it. At a time when one would feel so empty, I feel full. Words cannot describe how much I miss him or how much I wish I could've hugged him tighter the last time I saw him, but at the same time I feel an immense peace that's absolutely unexplainable except by pointing to Christ.
I'll be honest, me and God, we haven't been that cool for a while and I really haven't spent time with Him or in His Word in a really long time. But after it happened, the only thing I wanted to do was just sit and worship Him with everything. The song that I've been crying out has been Hillsong's "Prince of Peace"
"Your love surrounds me when my thoughts wage war
When night screams terror, there Your voice will roar
Come death or shadow, God I know Your light will meet me there
When fear comes knocking, there You'll be my guard
When day breeds trouble, there You'll hold my heart
Come storm or battle, God I know Your light will meet me there"
I never fully grasped the God's name, "Prince of Peace", until now. A friend encouraged me to read Psalm 91 (which I also encourage you to read) and the imagery of finding refuge under God's wings is exactly want God wants us to do in times of tragedy. He is refuge.
I don't feel like God is punishing my family. I don't believe God "needed another angel" (which He didn't. God needs nothing. Also, people don't become angels when they pass away. Mini-rant). I don't believe God is cruel for taking him. Evan once said that he wanted his legacy to be one that led people to Christ. Since he died two weeks ago, 12 people (that I know of) have met Christ at memorial services for him. How beautiful is that? An 18 year old kid left THAT big of a legacy?!
I know that if he had the option, Evan wouldn't come back. Why would he? He is in the Perfect Place where there is no pain, suffering, (or autism) and there's love, worship, peace, and Gramsie can make him her chocolate cake HERSELF.
So, like all my posts, I don't know if wrote this to help someone, to annoy someone, or to just journal it all, but here you go.