Forever 26

For Rissa

So this is the first birthday we cannot buy gifts for you, cannot celebrate another year with you, cannot spoil you with chocolate or run to the mountains with you. This is the first year we remember you instead of make memories with you.

There are so many things I want to tell you, and you are so far away.

I know how much you love fall. (Are there seasons in heaven? Do you love it still? Can you smell pumpkin and cinnamon and a warm fire burning?) I’ve been slow to pull out the autumn decorations, slow to move into this season with all of its memories.

We’re going to spend your birthday doing things you loved. We’ll go to your school and read to your children. Visit the beautiful bench and tree placed there in your honor. Go to the mountains and pick some apples. Take a few family pictures, and I’m sure we will smile.

But there will be tears behind the smiles. We will be remembering you.

In the evening, we will all walk around the block together as you loved to do. We will sit around the fire pit. We’ve been avoiding that, so it will be the first time since you’ve been gone.

We will share stories of you. We will talk about your spark, your spunk, your smile. We will laugh, and we will cry. We are putting all the stories in a memory book so we will always remember.

And we will. We will always remember.

Because your story matters, Beanie. God wrote it and you lived it well. You responded joyfully to your trial. You took what God gave you, and you ran with it. Even in the middle of sickness, sorrow, and pain, you gave Him glory. You trusted Him. You loved Him.

And that makes it one of the good stories, the kind you read over and over again.

I remember every medical test, every doctor’s visit, every treatment. I remember all the pain and bad news. I remember some very dark places, some very raw fear.

And I want to say thank you for being a faithful warrior. Thank you for walking in truth through every dark valley. It was an honor to walk with you, Rissa. It was an honor to fight beside you.

It is an honor to be your mom.

I doubt you read blogs in heaven–man’s musings are of no account there. But I hope you still know how much we love you. I hope you know we are doing ok. That God is faithfully leading us along. That we think constantly about heaven–its realities and its joys.

That we love our Savior more. That we are trudging through our own valleys with steadfast hearts. That we are still in the battle, still reaching forward, still walking by faith.

And rejoicing that your faith is now sight.

I am praising the God who formed you and measured all your days. The One who loved you and gave His Son to ransom you. The One who gave you breath and life, the One who carried you and holds you still.

Today should be a day of celebration, so I am reaching back for all of the happy memories. All of the good things, all of the pleasures of knowing you. On your birthday, I am remembering the gift of you, the joy of you. I am remembering my curly-headed sunshine.

I am remembering all of your moments.

I am remembering you.

I love you, Rissa. Happy birthday.


11 thoughts on “Forever 26

  1. I will pray for you and your precious family as you walk through this day. I pray that at the end of the day the joy of being together as a family will bring peace to your heart’s even through the tears of missing Marissa.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marissa was very much like I remember your Dad. She had a bubbly joyfulness. We will also remember her today realizing that her birthday is spent in heaven with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What a wonderful way to spend a birthday. Praying for you and your family as you celebrate her life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Colleen, thank you for the beautiful words and thoughts you continue to share with us! We will also spend this day with all of you, celebrating Marisa’s life and testimony. Our hearts, thoughts and emotions are with you, along with confidence of special blessings today for each one of your family! We send this with much love !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am thankful for each post that you take the time to write. Thank you for each reminder that this life is short. We are living for another time and another place.


  5. God directed us to have our paths cross via this blog. Our daughters were attending a service at the Tonoloway Primitive Baptist church Sun. afternoon. Our oldest daughter was taking a walk in the cemetery when another lady joined her. We understand she is a cousin to you. This walk led to a conversation about our story and yours. We just had to say good bye to our 24yr old daughter. She was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer on May 30th. She was in extreme pain, because there was a tumor on her sacrum. Our daughter was admitted first for pain control, then proceeded with treatment, only ever receiving 2 chemo treatments. She received her ultimate healing on Aug 1. If you are interested in meeting our daughter and our family you are welcome to visit I sat and read your blog today, from the beginning to current. I found it very inspirational and encouraging. Marlita’s journey was intense and Grief is hard, but we know God is sovereign and we trust Him and know He has a plan for our lives. We are born again believers and are members of a Mennonite church. I find it so ironic that our daughters names are so close the same, they both loved children, ultimately they both loved the Lord and were ready to meet their maker. As i listened to the service for Marissa I heard the hymn Be Still my Soul. Also sung at or daughters service. If you are interested in listening to Marlita’s service it can be found on the website go to the audio archives, then go to Aug. 6, 2017 Celebrating the life of Marlita Diane Histand

    Maybe Marissa and Marlita have met. The little girl that Marlita was nanny for just said this afternoon as I described your daughter, maybe they are new friends. I think they may have met as we like to think Marlita is there helping to care for children, and Marissa may just be doing the same! We can only imagine what it is like in heaven.

    We are from Rome, PA. Maybe someday God could allow us to meet, in person, on this journey of life.

    May God continue to be your comfort in the difficult days of grief.

    Diane Histand


    • Diane, I am so sorry for the loss of your precious daughter. I weep with you. I sent an email to you and will be praying for you and your family as you navigate through your grief. ((Hugs))


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