There’s a very specific heartache that accompanies the knowledge that you’ll never see someone again in this life. Our mortal beings groan and grieve, while our spiritual selves rejoice in having another friend in Heaven with our Father. Why do I, and so many others, take comfort in that most human of traits: words? I don’t know the answer. It pains me to move from present to past tense when describing a loved one. I don’t presume to be the most wounded by this passing. Mourning is not a competition. It’s not a time for comparison. This is a journey home that I never wanted to take. It hurts, with every inch this boat moves closer to home, the reality of this loss becomes an inch harder to bear. The thing is, with someone you’ve grown up knowing, loving and respecting, when the thought occurs “what would she say?” you know your answer. I find myself with a mountain of encouragements running around my head, all with one thing in common, they came from her.
Ali Jackson was a guide to me. She was a light that I was always excited to be exposed to. She radiated love, joy and peace. She took me in and loved me like a daughter. She never missed a chance to tell me she loved me, and mentioned very specific reasons why. The incredible thing is that she meant it every single time. An attaboy from Ali was like being told you’ve done a good job by God himself. She represented so much of Him in my life. If you want to talk about Christlike, I’d point you no further than John and Ali. Their children are a testament to this. Every single one of the Jacksons has impacted my life in a massive way and they know that. I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t spent so much time in their house and around such a holy, hilarious, loving and inspiring family. The friendships I have with them are my most cherished. When I was younger and dumber and wouldn’t let my mum in, Ali somehow turned me around. She always encouraged me in my relationship with my parents and family. She ALWAYS saw the good in people. And she opened my eyes to it. Her relationship with her children was something I aspire to.
A light in me has gone out. It’s hard to describe because it’s not my love for her, that will remain forever. The people I love, and I’m incredibly blessed by the number that comes to mind when I say that, they each hold a place in my heart. A different place, a separate place. Each one is connected to my thoughts, words and actions. I treat them differently in accordance with how I’ve learned to love them as individuals. Where one needs hugs, another needs words, and another again just needs my time. It is my aspiration in life to become as good as Ali at showing this unique and all-encompassing love. The large space of my heart reserved for showing love to Aunty Ali will never again in this life be put to use. That hurts. She was so easy to love, and I saw it as an honour to learn how to show her a unique love that she made every effort to show so many others. I think I nailed it with tea. Knowing how to make her version of the perfect cuppa is something I’ll hold onto. It’s a strange line to walk when you realise your friends’ mum is also just straight up, your friend. I laughed so much with Aunty Ali. She knew what to say and her comedic timing was gold. She was so quick to laugh too, responsible in part for my thinking I’m hilarious.
Aunty Ali lived her live with a beauty that I’ve only ever read about in Biblical women. She had the laughter of Sarah, the faith of Esther, the humility of Mary, and was as aware of her own salvation as Mary Magdalene. At a women’s retreat recently we sang a song that repeats a line “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.” Aunty Ali knew she was God’s. She lived her life in that knowledge. She’s now with her Father. There’s a very specific heartache that accompanies the knowledge that you’ll never see someone again in this life. The world is dimmer without her here, but Heaven just got that little bit brighter, so while there is heartache, there is also rejoicing and hope. I live in hope. Hope of Heaven, hope that I’ll end up with God, hope that I’ll see Aunty Ali again.
Isaiah 40:28-31 “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”