Faith by grace

Story by Maddie Gerrald, staff writer

I have not written since July. My mind has been filled with words, but nothing in me has been willing to print those thoughts on paper. It has never been hard for me to open up. I’ve been able to drown in my thinking and still find the words to explain it. A rather early morning in July changed that. The news rang out through my room, wedging itself into the silence. One of my best friends had died.

Senior year begins with a list of lasts, a list that is supposed to reflect memories of laughter and freedom. This list holds expectations and hope along with feelings of dread for an uncertain future.

But, there was a different set of bulleted points I kept referring back to.

The last time I saw Houston. The last time I heard his laugh. The last time I was in his car, singing along to songs, listening close for the sound of his voice that rang out over the radio.

That same July morning, my new Bible arrived at my door step.

Hearing that he was gone made me question everything. It even made me question my faith; the foundation that Houston helped me strengthen beginning to crack. His death left in me the instability that has infected my senior year. The months following the news, I had an absence of faith, which echos a  loss of purpose and function. I took the Bible out of its box with the intent of finding answers, but I was unable to find them until recently.

After slowly coming to terms with the idea of never seeing his car pass me again on Kennedy Lane, I became suffocated by the idea of consistency.

Consistency is, by definition, dependability. I have always liked change and the idea of impulsive living, but this was an adjustment that made me crave something familiar. This being my last year of high school, has made me realize the most dependable things are the ones I am leaving soon. Houston’s death and the impending end to small-town familiarity led me to re-open my Bible to find the answers I’d been blind to.

I began to grasp that life is undeniably short. That change is sudden and is not always welcome. That life should be lived through appreciation. Hidden behind highlighted scriptures, I refound my faith in the idea that things happen for a reason, even if we don’t yet know what that reason is.

Houston left his mark on my soul and in that shown what everyone should aspire to do in their time on Earth.

It is easy to see that what Houston had was a light. He was a burning flame that left glowing embers scattered around this town and on the skin of those he touched. In my last year here, I am determined to be the same. In the months following his death, I learned that the pressure of lost consistency that lies on my chest can be lifted by prayer and by a rekindling of my faith. It can be lifted by laughter with my best friends, time spent with my family and by the recognition of the beauty that falls in the roads of Texarkana.

Grief is said to be love with no place to go. I disagree. That love has a place to go. That love will go into your actions and your words. My love that once had a vessel will now seep its way into how I treat and see people, my gratitude for life and the small things that I often forget to recognize.

As I sit here, writing for the first time since July, I can say that a great weight has left me. The grief that consumed me, now walks beside me in the form of his shadow that left behind a legacy for all of us to uphold.