It’s taken ten years for me to talk publicly about Amy’s death because it’s taken ten years for me to process it all.
A little over two years ago I felt a clear, strong prompting to write about Amy- her life, our friendship, the accident, my wedding. I had no idea where it would lead at the time, but as an aspiring writer, naturally, publication was my first thought. How cool would it be to publish a story about Amy?, I thought. God used her to change my life, how awesome would it be for her life to continue changing others who never even knew her?!
But sitting here two years later with thousands of words written, I have a better understanding as to why God would lead me this way. I learn as I write, and He wanted me to figure it out. He wanted me to wrestle through my own past. He wanted me to see things from His perspective and learn how those things can be used for good, for His glory. I would have never known I needed this shift without the writing process.
I don’t know if anything will ever come of it all; I think it’s served its purpose. I have started and re-started with so many different angles it’s hard for me to keep up with it much less anyone else to try and follow along.
Here are two things (of many) that I learned through it:
1. Amy was loved by many.
I’ve struggled feeling qualified to write about Amy because I can always think of another person who could. Someone who knew her better, someone she knew longer. She drew people in so well and loved so deeply, everyone that knew her felt like she was their best friend.
2. Our friendship was a healthy one.
Amy and I weren’t dependent on each other to get through life. We sharpened each other. We encouraged each other in our own strengths and gifts. We shared our lives with one another free of obligation. Some weeks we would hang out every day, other times we wouldn’t see each other for weeks on end. Immediately following her death people would ask how I was doing. I would often comment that it wouldn’t get hard until later. It was normal to go a week or two without talking. But a month, six months, a year? That’s another story. It’s happened exactly so.
The journey of writing all of my memories of Amy was hard and good at the same time. It’s been both introspective and a thrill ride. I’ve learned so much along the way- about writing, about myself, about God. I have greater clarity and understanding. I don’t know if the journey is over, but today, ten years after her death, I can confidently look back on it with a healthy perspective. Free of bitterness, free of pretentiousness.
Last Christmas (2011) Filipe and I (and the kids) went back to Charleston. While the primary reason we went was to visit my family, I had another very clear objective. To have closure on the past, and to face some fears that related to Amy’s death. Two things I hadn’t done since Amy’s accident- go back to her house (her parent’s home) or to the site of the accident. I knew I would never stop wondering until facing both of these.
I visited Amy’s parents on what would have been Amy’s 32nd birthday. I took them cake and flowers. Being around them was so nice; I love that they still talk about her like she was there yesterday. They gave me access to all of Amy’s writings and pictures. I sat on her bed and remembered.
Later, Mrs. Cox gave me detailed directions to find the site of the accident. The following day I went alone. I was scared and nervous, but I had to overcome the fear. I passed the site twice before I pulled the car over on the side of the road. As large trucks whizzed by, I thought about that early morning in March. What really happened? Why here? Allowing myself to wrestle with it was just what I needed to face the reality before me.
I’ll never know.
Amy was a beautiful person inside and out. She was an artist in every sense of the word. Though she’s not here, her words stay with us. I’m blessed to have had her in my life when I did. Here’s a couple of my favorite poems she wrote.
Amy was wonderfully dramatic. Here’s a poem written in the midst of teenage love.
Seven Years Bad Luck
How did forever end so soon?
Were the words spoken in vain?
A pledge, a promise from my heart
Was it not for you the same?
Pearls of laughter used to dance
Through sunshine lighted skies
Now smiles stand alone and hear
Silence in reply
Tall and strong our friendship stood
From the mirror on my wall
How blind I was to believe;
Nothingness was all you saw.
In fairy tales the good man won
The truth always prevailed
I guess that life’s a shattered dream
And not a fairy tale.
Now jagged pieces strew the floor
What they’ve said I should’ve believed
‘Cause now I’m left to pick up the pieces
That cut me as I bleed.
Amy Noel Cox
March 28th, 1996
When Amy gave a gift, it was often accompanied with a poem. This was one she gave me for my high school graduation.
All that you have been to me
Is beyond the description
Of a sister or saint.
Not that you are a stranger of
Such figures, but that you are
More than what can be
Conveyed by either persona.
God gave you to me as a gift so
That my heart might not wander
Through life without a soulful companion.
Every moment, every word, every thought
Ever shared between us will forever
Be remembered and cherished.
I will never lose them to the posing of life.
Love me always, my Mandy; friends forever,
My Mandy; forget me not.
Soar through life on your gossamer wings
Of hopes and dreams, and shine forth
Your love as light. For after all- we are
Amy Noel Cox