Today was a beautiful and difficult day to say the least. We began the day with a short intimate ceremony at the cemetery to say goodbye to our beloved aunt, daughter, sister, niece, and friend. Later in the afternoon we had a celebratory church service and memorial in her honor.
Our family sat in the front row, but as the service began, I turned to look behind me and saw a sanctuary full of people that came to remember and celebrate the beautiful woman of God that Amy Schultz was. The site brought me to tears as I realized that the same impact Amy had on me was also the impact she had on that entire church full of people...and then some. The service was beautiful, full of worship (just as she would like it) and wonderfully heartfelt speeches from my mother (Amy's sister), two of Amy's friends, and one of Amy's teacher colleagues. The words they all spoke described the Amy we all knew. She was a unique, fierce, romantic, outspoken, and faithful woman...and never once was she afraid to be just that. I pray that one day, I too will be remembered the way she will always be.
Amy taught me many lessons over the years: to appreciate myself, family is irreplaceable, and to love my God....but today I may have learned the greatest lesson from her. Amy was a strong woman through and through...but she knew that strength did not mean going at it alone.
Like Amy I am the oldest of 3 sisters. I am outspoken, creative, romantic, unique, and at times fierce. But I have always struggled with a need to be strong for others, particularly my two younger sisters. I have done my best to hide my tears, my worries, and my uncertainties, in hopes that they would be able to rely on me for strength when they felt too weary to muster up their own. Amy was a care taker of all, but she was not afraid to let her guard down, because she knew that God blessed her with loving family and friends to be her strength when she was weary as she had always been for them. Today in church I sat in the front row, staring at the pink and white flower arrangements humming softly to the song being sung. Out of no where I fell apart, I collapsed in on myself shaking and weeping into my hands. My sister put her arms around me and instead of lifting my head and wiping my tears, I buried my face in her shoulder and continued my sobs of mourning. I have always felt blessed to have my two little sisters, but today, for the first time, I let them be for me what I have struggled for 18 years to be for them: a shoulder to cry on, a comfortable embrace, and the strength I needed when I felt I had none left. Today I truly experienced the unconditional love and support that can only be found between sisters.
Thank you Amy, Andrea, and Mom. It may have taken me a few years but thank you for teaching me that being strong does not mean you cannot be afraid, sad, angry, or mournful. Being strong does not mean you cannot show those feelings to others that you love. But instead, being strong means knowing that even if you do fall apart in your sister's arms...you know you will be OK, for your sister will be the first one to start piecing you back together.