My brother Dan of Single Dad Laughing has written a beautiful tribute to her here that everyone should read, and the main focus of what he wrote was about how Carissa was able to love people because she never thought of herself as better than another person. This could not be more true. And while I could write for days about the things I learned from her, today I want to just write about the flip-side from what Dan wrote.
Carissa also never thought of herself as less than any other person.
Just think about what that means for a second.
|My beautiful girl|
I have written a lot on this blog about how we let our perception of our own imperfection stand in the way. We don't reach out in love or in service because we're afraid that what we have to give will never be good enough. We don't explore and expand the gifts God has given us because we don't think we'll be able to do it as well as others.
Carissa never let her imperfections hinder her from being who she was meant to be. And I'm not just talking about the limitations inherent to her disability. She also had normal imperfections -- she was stubborn as a mule, and she got sad and mad and scared just like the rest of us. But she accepted those parts of herself and allowed the beautiful gifts that she'd been given to shine through. Let me just tell you one story to illustrate this point.
I was with Carissa when she was admitted to the hospital for the last time. She was in serious distress from terrible pneumonia, and she was scared and in pain. A short time after she was admitted, a nurse came to insert a pic line into her arm so they could better administer her meds (any medical people out there will have to excuse my lack of medical expertise here). Carissa's veins were notoriously hard to find and I think they hadn't been able to get an IV in, so they had to go with the pic line. The nurse told me that inserting a pic line was almost always very, very easy, but that sometimes it because very, very difficult. Carissa's experience proved to be the latter. The nurse tried for what seemed like forever to get it in, basically digging a needle around in Carissa's arm trying to find the right placement. Carissa was in intense pain, tears rolling down her cheeks. But that was not her focus. Carissa could see that the nurse was distressed about the pain she was causing. Carissa started saying, "It's okay! You're doing a good job. Keep trying. I love you. It's okay," all while patting the nurse with her free hand. By the time she was finished, we were all in tears. I actually don't remember if she was even able to place the pic line in the end. But the spirit of love in that room was so strong that I will never forget it.
|Carissa with my mom and my boys, just a couple days before she died.|
Love conquers fear. Love conquers every negative emotion or action in this world. Because love for others -- others she saw as no better or worse than herself, only brothers and sisters -- was the greatest emotion in Carissa's world, she was able to lift and serve and be the best possible version of herself.
I miss you, my sweet Carissa. I will keep trying to remember your example every day. You're my favorite!
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***I just realized I never explained -- we call the anniversary of Carissa's passing "You're My Favorite" Day in her honor. We try to celebrate the life she lived even as we still mourn her loss. I know that we'll be together with her again in heaven, and that even now she's with us in spirit, and I thank God every day for that blessing.***