Last Wednesday, I had just arrived at church for a prayer meeting when I heard that a serious accident happened just a minute away on County Road 41. It was a fatality.
My heart raced as I learned more about the family and their daughter, Cassidy Hale, who had just been hit by a pick-up truck while on a walk with a friend. She was only 15 1/2 years old. I had never met this beautiful family but immediately I began tearing up as we prayed for them. I couldn’t imagine the pain they were experiencing. One of our church members Roger told me had just seen her just a little bit ago.
My mind and heart immediately reflected back to when I was a freshman in high school in North Carolina and lost two classmates from a car accident weeks before school was about to let out for the summer. The same ache I had for them struck me thinking about Cassidy and her family. I couldn’t stop thinking and praying for them all week.
When I woke up yesterday, a dense fog hovered over our town. My heart had been anxious for this day. It was the day of Cassidy’s funeral. I got showered, the kids all dressed, and dropped them off to my neighbor Jill’s (my brave friend willing to take on a lot of kids!). My husband was there early among other pastors to help where needed.
As I parked and made my way into our town’s event center where the funeral was being held, I saw parents and students supporting one another, huddled in circles and crying on each other’s shoulders. They walked by the table to see Cassidy’s artwork and baby photos up until she was a teenager.
I then saw her casket over to the left. After signing the guestbook, I made my way over and saw her beautiful lifeless body. The moment felt surreal as if I was in a dream and my heart couldn’t keep up with what my eyes were seeing. Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at her picture frame on top of the casket.
As I sat down, Christian hymns were played on the piano while people were being seated. “All in All,” is the one that hit me the most. As the funeral began, a family member read a piece that Cassidy’s dad wrote about her love for superheroes, overcoming the daily grind of life, and always putting a smile on people’s faces. The pastor spoke about her life and how she was a light, a ray of sunshine to all who knew her. She knew Jesus and was now with him and would want us to know how much He too, loves us. Many came up for prayer after the invitation and showed love and support to her family. About 700 people filled the room.
I never knew Cassidy, as we’ve only lived here a few months, but her life and this whole tragedy has impacted me deeply. Many people would say her life was cut short. And that is true, but she lived a full life, evidence from those who knew her best. In the short amount of time she lived, her impact will reach farther and wider than most people. Because of her life, others came to know the Lord this week. Because of her life, others were encouraged to shine their light brighter too.
It is so difficult to understand the why’s. I have found myself rethinking the accident scene and how it happened and why. I have driven by it a few times. There are no words to say about her sweet young life being cut so short and the pain and suffering her mom and dad and sister are bearing. It is an unimaginable grief.
While at the graveyard, I broke down in tears watching Cassidy’s mom, dad, and sister set their roses on top of her casket. As a mother to four children, my heart ached most for her mom as I watched the pain she was enduring for her first born child. Her precious daughter that she raised and loved and sacrificed for. It was an image forever seared in my mind that I will never forget.
The hope in the midst of such a heartbreaking tragedy is that this earth is not our home. This earth and everything in it will pass away. We have all been given a dash. Cassidy’s was from March 14, 2000 – September 16, 2015. God has an appointed time for me and you. We must be ready for that time because we never know when it will be.
Do you know Jesus? Not just know of him, but do you know him intimately? Do you have a personal relationship with him and are confident that when you die you will meet him face to face and will have to give an account of your life spent on earth? Do you know how crazy in love he is with you, so much that he suffered and died on a cross to save you from your sins? Are you ready to accept his free gift of salvation and choose him as your Savior?
These are the questions Cassidy would want us to confidently answer.
In reflecting on this tragedy and Cassidy’s life, I’ve also seen that there is so much hope and light seen when a community comes together and genuinely supports each other. We hear the news immediately. We pray on the spot. We show love through serving. No matter how well we know the person, we mourn together. It is an ache that does not go away.
There is hope when we know that one day God is going to redeem all that has been lost from us. There is hope because we know The story isn’t over. There is hope that one day Jesus is going to wipe away every tear from our eyes and there will indeed be no more suffering. For those who know Jesus and knew Cassidy, there will one day be rejoicing in heaven together.
After the fog lifted off our little town the day of her funeral, the sun peered through the clouds and there was a gentle breeze. It was as if God was letting us see the light to remind us of the brilliant sunshine that Cassidy was to so many people in our town. And to also remind us that it is only through that we will find everlasting life.
You are thought of constantly and remembered, Cassidy Hale. You are in my prayers Jackie, Randy, and Tayler.