21 Years

Mar 29, 2014

By: Penny Gooch



I cannot remember how I spent our 21st birthday but I remember 21 years ago very well.  It was a beautiful day.  I woke up late and ran to my 9 am class.  Paula was waiting for me.  She was looking for me.  I was late and she was concerned.  She looked relieved to see I had made it to class.  Frowned at me and asked why I wasn't in the 8 am class.  I explained simply, 'I woke up late.' She tugged at my wet hair and again frowned as she looked at my no-make-up face. She questioned with her eyes 'Why?'   My response, 'Late.'  We spent every moment on that last day together.

We talked; we laughed: and together we weaved a powerful duo.  We were TWINS.  Special.  Identical.  We shared our whole lives wrapped in each other.  Always communicating through subtle glances, expressions and brief cryptic sentences.  She started a sentence, I finished it.  I began a sentence, she finished it.  We promoted each other. We were each others conscience.  We shared everything.  When we walked into a room, we were studied, looked at and the center of attention.  We never chalked it up to anything more than, we were twins.  And that was my whole world.  

How can life take such a turn?  How could I lose someone so special, so valued, so treasured?  Why her? Why at that time?   We were God fearing.  We had a supreme moral compass.  We were purpose driven.  We cared about our family.  And we needed each other.  

It made no sense, a drunk driver, really?  We didn't drink?  We didn't drink.  We didn't drink!  In the beginning, those were my stunned thoughts.  My painful pleas to God made no sense either.  I begged.  I cried out to God.  "Please not her, not now, not my twin, dear Jesus...please not my twin."  Standing alone at the edge of my property, I realized I would have to spend every single day for the rest of my life without Paula.

Through the grief, I resolved I would never stop talking about Paula.  That journey has allowed me to grieve, to heal and to help.  After years of publicly sharing these tragic intimate, imperfect moments, I have some perspective that has helped me along the way.

I loved Paula as much as I could love anyone and some how that makes losing her bearable.  God will comfort you even if you can't figure how that could be possible.  There is never a good day for someone you love to die. People make horrific choices that sometimes have nightmarish consequences and because of that God is sought desperately and answers perfectly.   I may never understand tragedies timing, but I will always benefit from God's grace.  We are by our experiences, choices and understanding as we are today.  And the one piece of wisdom that I can give anyone faced with the 'spirit of heaviness' is to seek peace, ask for peace and never give up.  

If you're the type of person who tragedy seeks, you must be VERY special.  Please just try...One...More...Time. 

Twenty-one Years 
Love Never Ends
1 Corrithians 13:8