For Olivia

I met Olivia when she was barely a year old. She was just a couple of months younger than our son Morgan, and they were fast friends before they could even talk. Well, at least before Morgan could talk. As an IMG_4552
18-month old, he couldn’t say “Olivia” so settled for GG. It made the more verbal Olivia furious. She would respond, clear as a bell, “My name is O-li-vi-a!” Of course, we called her our GG ever after!

Olivia was a child full of joy. She and Morgan laughed together often as they recreated our playroom–as a fort, a hovercraft, or a Power Rangers movie set.

But Olivia was no pushover. We teased her for years about when, as a 5- or 6-year-old, she kicked her shoe across an exam room at my husband’s office, fighting to avoid getting a shot.

oliviawithnameplacardOlivia was strong, smart, and kind. She overcame more adversity than any child should have to endure, without losing hope or her sense of humor. Even as distance kept us from in-person visits, it was a joy to hear how she exceled at school and in life. I loved listening to her dream about the places she’d travel and the
adventures she’d have.

But sometimes life dishes out more than even the strong can handle. Such was the case for Olivia. She fought till the end, pushing forward as best she could. But the struggle finally became too hard. The darkness won the battle.

It’s hard to believe that Olivia is gone. We will miss her laugh, her compassion, and her fighting spirit. We will mourn all that she was and all that she never got to be.

But I hope that we will also get angry. Angry enough to fight against the world’s violence. Angry enough to look for others who are hurting and fight alongside them for health and wholeness. Angry enough to make the world a place where others don’t have to fight so hard.

Though darkness won the battle, I am thankful to know that it did not win the war. In her best moments, Olivia knew that God was with her in the midst of her pain and struggles. It’s good to know that He is with her now, her Source of eternal comfort and healing.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10

Julie Valentine Center (sexual assault and child abuse hotline) 864-467-3633

CRISISLine (Mental Health America) 864-271-8888

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)