Yesterday morning I attended the funeral of Katherine Vaudrey, a 19 year old who went to the same church as I, Willow Creek, and was a part of the high school ministry that I worked for while I was on staff at the church. While I didn’t know her directly and never had a chance to meet her, I was intrigued enough by the stories and comments that people left about her the week following her death that I wanted to attend the memorial.
Kate died on Sunday, June 2nd, 2008. I was working in Impact, the high school ministry at Willow, that Sunday morning and at that time many thought that her death was caused by a car accident that she was in a day prior. The service that morning was adjusted and tailored to give those who needed an opportunity to grieve to do so. Apparently in the following days it became clear that Kate perished from a brain aneurysm that occurred while she was driving, causing her to loose contentiousness and be involved in an accident. The neurosurgeons were unable to restore brain activity, and the following morning her organs were donated to at least three other individuals whose lives was prolonged cause of Kate’s loss.
However, as evidenced from the many stories shared about Kate at her memorial service, these three organ receiver’s lives were by no means the only ones touched by hers. Throughout the service, many photos were shown, stories shared by her 4 brothers and sisters that Kate was the middle of, her boyfriend for a year and 8 months, her mother and father, friends, etc. Though I never met her face to face, just recognizing her from being in the same area of the church, many times during the service my eyes teared up and flowed at the different examples that were given of how much joy and happiness Kate brought into all of the lives around her. She lived such a beautiful life and was an amazing artist who painted so many various pictures that were on display at the memorial. Her life was driven to love everyone around her, build relationships with everyone (even to people the common crowd might not want to), bring a smile to anyone she came in contact with, and lead people towards a closer relationship with God.
All day yesterday and today I continue to think and process the whole scenario. The family seems very strong and celebrating Kate’s life, while at the same time going through immense grief of Kate’s life that feels taken away so quickly and so inexplainable. The question of “Why God?” has definitely gone through my mind so many times, but at the same time knowing that His plan is greater than ours and that there is no doubt that Kate lived her life to the fullest and in His steps. I definitely have been thinking over the relationships in my life and between my wife and I, realizing that life is fragile and to cherish all of the moments that I have with those around me because one never knows… Kate is an inspiration to me to focus more on the relationships in life, worry less and not to be as tangled up in the smaller details, and to make important the experiences and memories that last past a gravestone.