Last week was a very tough week for many—a beautiful young woman of 4 died along with her 5 month old unborn baby, suddenly. Her name was Sarah Harkins. She left behind a grieving family and a community reeling in disbelief. Sarah’s death has given us time to pause and reflect on what reallymatters. Death does that to us—it jolts us into cognition by revealing to us our own mortality. We wake from our own selfish stupor to find that time is not infinite, that today may very well be our last day. Yet, most of us don’t live like it could be.
For me personally, Sarah’s death has given me a lot of face-time in the mirror. I have been asking myself: “Am I ready to go.right now.today?” Am I living the life that legacies are built on?” Am I the friend, spouse, parent that has no regrets?” “Would God open the gates for me?” Would I want to watch the movie of my life and not shutter in disbelief of who I really was on earth?” “What would people say about me at my parting?”
I don’t think I am unique in this thinking though. These are the deep questions that well up inside us all when life turns to death. When we see the hearts and emotions that come from death raw and exposed, we are unified in the hope that through this person’s life and death we may be transformed. This is the duplication of Christ’s death on the cross.
These eternal musings are something to be prayed over daily in this here our journey for Heaven. I certainly won’t know the answer till my day comes. What I do know is that in that short span of of a week some very good things came about because of Sarah’s death and gratitude can only help us move forward, especially for the friends and family whose road will be long and daunting!
The Generosity :: Within hours of Sarah’s passing, a fund was set up for her spouse and their 4 children. I was overwhelmed with emotion seeing the generosity of the public. People who never knew her were contributing, moved so much by her story. They took their helplessness and put it to good use. There was comfort and hope in the faces of those unknown contributors who gave a Christ-like response to their brothers and sisters in need. Just look at what was accomplished in a matter of 6 days by 1850 people.
The Friends :: Friends come and go in life, but you know who they really are when you are in your darkest hour. I witnessed the best of friendships come out. People whom I was acquainted with grew exponentially in my eyes as they dropped everything to tend to the grieving heart of Sarah’s husband and children. They went to the hospital, they went to the house, they drove to the airport, they ran errands, they did whatever they had to do no matter the inconvenience because they knew nothing is more “inconvenient” than their friend’s grief.
It made me want to be a better friend; to stay in touch better with those who live far away but who mean so much. It made me wonder if my friendships would prove as hopeful in my time of need. And who would I be for the friends I care about!
The Brothers :: One of the best things I witnessed during this week was how great the community is from the Franciscan University of Steubenville (FUS).
Sarah’s husband Eric belonged to the household The Brothers of the Eternal Song at FUS. My husband had many friends from this household and they bestowed on him the title of Honorary Member even though he never attended (he was actually in the seminary at the time.) Nonetheless, these brothers are how our family became connected with Sarah—we were friends of friends.
So, these brothers came from all over the country to be here for Eric and the children. It was beautiful how they showed Eric Christ in his darkest hour. They left their wives, children, and jobs to travel here to support and comfort him. Three of them stayed in our basement after driving through the night carpooling from Ohio. Some of these guys hadn’t even seen each other since graduation 10 years ago.