I am the eldest of eight children. Three years ago, my youngest sister Jeannette was born, and when she was born, we discovered that she had a severe genetic disorder known as Trisomy 18 and was not expected to live more than twenty-four hours. This news dealt a crushing blow to a family who had had every expectation of a healthy child.
My reaction spanned a range of emotions—grief at the loss of a sister I had been joyfully anticipating for nine months, sympathetic pain for the other members of my family, particularly my parents, frustration and even anger because I didn’t understand. I knew that God has a purpose for everything that happens to us, but I couldn’t help asking, not only why she couldn’t stay, but what was the point in the first place of sending her here for only one day, just so we could all be hurt when she was gone again. What kind of purpose could anyone accomplish in just twenty-four hours?
Little did I know that Jeannette would defy the doctors’ predictions to live ten weeks. A virus that swept through our entire family finally took her away, but during that time she was here, she touched the lives of so many that the entire church was full for her funeral. Just by her presence, she inspired others to a deeper conviction of the sanctity of life, and a firmer belief that every life has a purpose, no matter how long or how short. This alone was a great accomplishment, but her purpose here went beyond that, for most of all, she brought joy to everyone she encountered, and taught us all of the healing and life-giving power of God’s love. She lived out the belief that every purpose He has for us is ultimately for our good, no matter how much it may hurt at first.
I miss Jeannette very much, and I hope one day to see her again in Heaven, but I now understand that she was meant, by her life and death, to proclaim the love and fidelity that God has towards His people. Moreover, she fulfilled this purpose so well that she is a daily reminder to me of my own calling to proclaim the same message, and an inspiration to fulfill it as admirably as she.”