Charlie's bench is finished. My sweet sisters and John's (also very sweet) fraternity brothers purchased this gift for us several months ago and everything is finally finished. The bench is in place, the plaque is secured, and it is ready for visitors! The spot where the bench was supposed to be is slightly different than where it is now but it's even more perfect. It is a little bit removed from the actual playground but in the perfect spot to stop and sit close by.
When I learned that it was complete, I knew I had to go see it. Regardless of the snow we were getting that evening I needed to go. Once everyone was snuggled in bed I snuck out and parked my car near where I knew the bench was supposed to be. I walked (actually I take that back, I ran) to the bench and just stopped in front of it and stared. Tears flooded my eyes. I brushed the snow off the plate that said, "In loving memory of Charlie Gesenhues" and I realized I could look at this bench and remember Charlie while standing on both of my feet because of all of the people that have prayed for us.
I believe prayer is powerful. I believe it is a force to be reckoned with. When God's people stand before him and beg and plead with him for something, I know he hears us. We asked God to heal Charlie and He did. I begged God to completely take away all of Charlie's seizures, the brain damage, the machines, the pain and He did. I asked God to show the doctors and nurses a miracle and He did. He did exactly what I begged him to do. He heard my cry.
I know it wasn't just me. I know that it still isn't just me. All of the people that think about us each day (and especially each night) help us make it through the hard moments. That bench represents more to me than just a place to remember Charlie. It represents each person that had a hand in placing it there. It represents the many prayers that have been prayed on our behalf. It represents the kind words from each and every person that has loved us through this entire journey and through our grief. It represents a bond between God's children that cannot be broken.
I am reminded of this scripture as I reflect on my life right now and as I reflect on my life back when I was in college with these girls I still call sisters. The scripture is 1 Corinthians 13 and I think I may be able to quote it exactly as it reads because I love it so much and it holds a such a special place in my heart. One particular verse stands out to me now.
"Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
I have found that God has people in our lives for very specific reasons and all of the special people in my life have been the loving embrace of God at some point during the past almost seven months.
As sisters, you have protected my memories of Charlie, you have trusted in the friendship that God ordained enough to give me a gift that you didn't know how I would receive, you hoped that it would bring some sort of joy and a chance for healing, and you persevere in prayer. You are the hands and feet of Jesus and I love you for that. Thank you for doing something so special. Thank you for making this place in my now home a place I want to go to remember Charlie as well as a place to remember the many other blessings God has so carefully and specifically placed in my life.
Thank you again. Thank you a million times over!