The bucket list

I have met plenty of people with lists of things they long to accomplish in this life. Actually, I’ve been that person on occasion. Planning what I want to do, hope to become or aspire to accomplish. Today my thoughts turned to a different type of “bucket list”.

Sometime early this morning my sister went to be with her savior. She passed those pearly gates and is walking, if not running those streets of gold. Her faith became her sight and her hope is now her reality.

My sister was a blond haired- blue eyed beauty that was full of joy and life. She was the second of my parents children- the first girl. I have been told she was a very cooperative child- very obedient and polite. When my sister was 18 months old, she was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. I remember a conversation (she must have been in her late 20s) where she told me that she couldn’t ever remember a day without pain. It had always been a part of her life. Her joints were swollen and eventually some of them got so bad, she had to have them fused together. She had screws in her ankles and her neck was fused because of the degeneration of her cartilage. Though I can’t remember even a single time where she complained about this disease.

She married the love of her life and became the mother to two rambunctious boys 20 years ago. They were the same age as I, and we grew up together. She loved their father, Ric, so much and stuck with him through thick and thin.

In 1995, she was blessed to become the mother of her first born son, Jacob Daniel Sarracino. He was her everything. She was so proud. I remember as a 10 year old girl thinking that when I was a mom- I wanted to be just like my sister. She sang to him constantly and loved him unconditionally. He was her sunshine. And daily he was reminded of such.

She was finally blessed with a little girl seven years later – a hearts desire she saw fulfilled. Despite the doctors promising her that the child was a boy- she “knew”, as mothers often do, that this baby was a girl. Jade Ricquel is a fierce and amazing young lady who takes after her mother in so many ways. She has Angela’s strength and passion.

Angela’s life was her family- her husband and her four children were everything. She filled her days with caring for them and wanted nothing more than to see them happy and prosperous.

Four years ago, my sister was paralyzed from her waist down. She was then confined to a wheelchair. But that wheelchair did not limit her personality or her love of family. Her family that she had cared for so lovingly all those years, became her caregivers. Ric amazed me with his strength and compassion during this time. Doing things I could never imagine having to do for your spouse. He has been such an inspiration to me, his children and a true blessing to my family. Angela sure picked a good man to spend her life with.

Today, for the first time ever- she experienced something she never had on this earth. She woke to no pain. She woke to no aching or twinges, without ankles that refused to bend and flex, there wasn’t a neck that doesn’t turn. She could bend her wrists and stretch her fingers with no limits. She could stand and walk and run and dance and sing- at the top of her lungs, sing. Like an angel. Her voice was always pure and high. And today, she sang- for the one and only that her voice was created for.

I have thought today several times- I wonder what she is doing? What would you do with your first day of eternity? I can imagine the obvious things- the running and dancing and leaping. Hair flying in the wind.
The first day of paradise. I wonder if she rushed to see my grandparents who are there waiting. I wonder if she has seen my nieces and nephews that are there- or met our other siblings we never had the chance to meet this side of heaven. I wonder if she simply ran to the throne room to spend the day at her saviors feet thanking him for his mercy and goodness for saving her soul. Or did she visit her mansion that Christ had prepared and waiting for her arrival- oohing and ahhing at the decorations hand picked for her. Is she asking directions to the nearest McDonalds where they serve her favorite fries, as long as they are soft, of course. Did she choose to hunt down the saints of old and ask those burning questions she has had about the bible stories of walking with Jesus.

I don’t know what I would choose to do first- or what she chose this day. But this one thing I can be confident in- though we have shed many, she did not shed a tear today. Revelation 21:4 states “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” She is in absolute peace and utter bliss this day- and for that I am grateful. I will miss her greatly as will her husband and children and siblings and parents- but we will not grieve without hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13&14 declares “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

So for now we will grieve, but we will not sorrow. We will trust and “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 NIV)”

I love you, my sister. You will be greatly missed.