In Memory of Emma Grace Vargas

I had my heart broken today by a beautiful little girl who was clearly the light of every life that knew her.  And, after today, I only wish that I could have counted myself among that number…

Emma Grace was the niece of one of my very dearest friends.  She died in a tragic accident on July 6th.  It was one of those accidents that no one ever thinks will happen to anyone that they know.  It was awful and horrible and it didn’t really hit me at first that it could have really happened to a family that I know and love.  So I did the requisite things–you know, sent thoughts of love their way and sent out a prayer request at church and on Facebook.  But it didn’t hit me, not really…not until today anyway.

Her memorial service was this afternoon.  I had debated whether or not it was appropriate for me to go.  After all, I had never met her mother and I had only met her father once or twice.  In the end though, I had to go.  To begin with, I love Jolene and her family.  To me, she is family and I had to be there to support her.

In truth though, I think that my decision ultimately came from my memories of funerals past.  I was in high school the first time that I attended a funeral.  My aunt had given birth to a wonderful little boy who was taken from her shortly afterward.  It was terribly sad; at my age I hadn’t yet been touched by death and it was so unfair for it to have been a child.  Babies are never supposed to die.  The coffin was so tiny and I don’t think that I will ever forget the impression that it carved on my soul.  It made me realize that we are all that small in the grand scheme of things.  Just specks really in the fabric of the universe.  And there were so few people there to mourn his loss.  I think that’s what got to me the most.  I mean, he had meant so much to our family, how could he possibly have had such a small service?  It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right….no matter what the Pastor tried to say about it…

This same image was repeated to me not that long ago when a friend of mine lost her son as well.  Like my cousin, he was born prematurely.  His life was too short but he left a string of broken hearts behind him when he left.  He brought such joy to my friend and her family while he was alive, accomplishing much more in his brief existence than most people manage in a lifetime.  Again though, his funeral was what really got to me.  There were more people there to help my friend and mourn along with her.  However, there were also noticeable absences and I just couldn’t understand how they could possibly live with themselves without attending.  It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right…

Today, I couldn’t let that happen to my friend.  I couldn’t let her grieve in a nearly empty chapel as I have seen happen all too often.  So I had to go.  A mutual friend came with me and we set off to be her moral support.  Both of us were amazed that the chapel was not at all empty.  Instead it was filled to capacity with people who had loved this amazing little girl and her equally amazing family.  It was filled with grief, sorrow, and tears, but also with laughter, faith, and love.

It was beautiful.

I was awash in awe at the number of lives that Emma Grace had managed to touch in just two short years.  It got me thinking that perhaps it was her ability to captivate the hearts and souls of so many people that made God bring her home so soon.  Perhaps it was simply His knowledge that they could not have borne the pain of losing her if they had been blessed with so much as one more day with an angel who truly was the grace of God.  And this afternoon, that is what I discovered her to have been.  You see, she gave me a gift in reminding me never to take life for granted because as cliché as it may be, you really do never know how soon it may be over.  It’s a lesson that we all need to hear over and over again because it never really sinks in.  It’s too horrible for us to contemplate but that doesn’t make it any less real.

As for me, I’m going to try to keep it in mind with a little physical reminder.  They passed out pins at the memorial that had little pink ribbons on them.  I plan to wear it every day to remind me of little Emma Grace and everything that I learned from her without ever having met her.  In seeing pictures of this exuberant baby girl, I couldn’t help but think of my own little nieces.   Like Emma, those little girls are the light of my life and I can’t–won’t–imagine a world without them in it.   It was a terrifying wake up call because if something like this can happen to a family that is as wonderful and deserving of God’s grace as Jolene’s family is, then it can happen to anyone.  It pierced my heart to think that my own baby nieces could one day be taken from me.   I don’t think I would be strong enough to bear it…

But then, who would be really?…

Today I had my heart broken by a beautiful little girl who was clearly the light of every life that knew her.  And, yes, I most certainly do wish that she could have lived a longer life and that I could have known her.  But I am also grateful to her for gifting us all with remembrance, faith, and love.

So, thank you Emma Grace.  Though I never had the privilege to know you, you shall not be soon forgotten…

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One Response to In Memory of Emma Grace Vargas

  1. vickilouise says:

    I want you to know this is the first time I saw this post and it made me cry…I hate that babies and kids have to be snatched away from us.:-(

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