Today I attended the memorial service for Riley Jane Clark. “RJ” was the first patient I had as a home caregiver…not only that-RJ was the little piece of heaven that gave me a heart and a want to care for mentally and physically disabled children and adults. Her mother was my babysitter as child…When my sister and I were little, I remember how kind and fun her mother was when she came to babysit us. She took a true interest in us and we loved her a lot. Through the years, she got married and as Rachel and I grew up, we all attended the same church. When RJ was born, I remember it being such a miracle and as I heard today—she was nothing but a bundle of joy to her family. “She was high maintenance physically, but she was low maintenance emotionally.” This wasn’t a surprise to me to hear today because through the couple years that I took care of RJ, I remember all the smiles, the laughs, and the little, simple things that made her happy like cuddling, being held, playing peek-a-boo, being read to, listening to music, being around all people and “just being.” RJ taught her family and all those who knew her that true beauty is on the inside, that God made each and every one of us individually, beautifully and creatively with a purpose. RJ had a purpose on this earth; maybe to bring smiles to so many around her, to teach so many of us lessons about ourselves that we would have never taken the time to learn if she hadn’t graced us with her life, and as I was reminded at the funeral- “to slow down and be with those we love and to just enjoy BEING.” As I attended her funeral, I quickly realized this was one of the most powerful moments I’ve had in my life. Sitting next to my soft-spoken, extremely compassionate mother and my strong, steady, Godly father; I learned a couple of things. For one, Don’t take for granted those around you that love you/you love and take their time to live life with you because only God knows the number of our days. Second, this funeral was not just a sad experience where we mourned the loss of one of God’s angels (literally) on earth- it was more of a celebration. It was a celebration of a life that was well lived. She may have had some difficult physical complications but she was always happy. She was so full of life and joy- she just had a hard time expressing it. NOW, she is in heaven—freed from her earthly body and now she is able to do what she was not able to on earth—walk, run, laugh, talk to her Heavenly Father, and dance before Him with joy (maybe even sing since she loved the sound of music so much!) I don’t know what RJ is experiencing right now since she has left us on this earth but I imagine that it is profound, joyful, freeing, and she is with her Creator who made her perfectly in her mother’s womb, “just the way he intended her to be.”
The pastor reminded us of a blind man in the Bible—John 9: 1-4 says “As he went along he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, “ said Jesus, “But this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work for Him who sent me. Night is coming, when noone can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
You see—God doesn’t give us life or death, gain or loss, hardships and disabilities for nothing. They are a part of our lives so that we may see HIM, see HIS plan, see HIS work in us and so that we will fix our eyes on HIM- the light of this world- and creator of ALL (Including RJ who he made beautifully and wonderfully, in His image and He made her so that we may see the work of God in her life….which we saw every single day for the 10 years of her miraculous life.
God is the creator of ALL, he loves and pursues us all and he longs for us to see His work in our life. My life was forever changed by this little angel, Riley Jane, but more than that- my life was forever changed by the beautiful work of art that God made in her. She was perfect. She was whole. And now she’s Home.
Tonight, I continue to celebrate the short, but God-filled and perfectly created, LIFE of Riley Jane Clark! ☺