It was an honor to get to share these words this morning on behalf of the life of my precious friend, Amzie. Here are my notes for those asking:
Good morning everyone, my name is Hannah Edds, and I have had the privilege of being one of Amzie’s HSM-group leaders, and the honor of calling her a close friend over the years. Several months ago, Amzie asked if I would be willing to speak today on behalf of our HSMgroup and her church family. My voice said yes, but my heart thought, “no, I cant, that’ll be way too hard.” But if there’s one thing I learned from Amzie, it’s that I can do hard things. And though I know I could never begin to account for all of the people and all of the ways she touched lives, I just wanted to share with you some of the ways that she impacted mine.
It wasn’t until one night as I was putting on my shoes at the door, about to leave HSMGroup, that Amzie motioned me over into a room where she was sitting alone. She looked up at me with her big, brown eyes and said, “Hannah, how do you know when you’re truly in love?” My mind raced – this was my moment to lead. Just as quickly as a hundred possible profound responses came to mind, these words came tumbling out of my mouth, “I honestly have no idea. Boys are just the worst.” She agreed, we laughed, and spent a good while that evening talking about relationships, and she timidly confessed to me her desire to someday fall in love.
I saw a part of her heart that night that I suspected not a lot of others got to see, and I saw a lot of myself in that vibrant, witty, and curious girl. Though it was sarcasm that bonded us, sincerity cemented us, but it was faith that made us family. I quickly began to see Amzie as less of a student and more of a sister, less like a freshman and more like a friend.
And friendship with Amzie was something sacred, something special. It was an adventure that led us to graeters, behind the scenes at the Newport aquarium to pet penguins and feed sharks, and to stand in line at the pet store for two hours with my kitten, Cotton, when Amzie was convinced that she had an ear infection that needed immediate attention. It meant lots of sleepovers, movie nights, rap songs in the car, and finding ourselves in the Chick-fil-a drive thru more times than I’m comfortable admitting. It meant crying over dead fish and laughing over Halloween costumes for our pets. Friendship with Amzie was to be humbled by honesty, yet filled with encouragement. To have your life intersect with hers in any capacity was to walk away changed. It’s who she was – a strengthener, a sharpener, a bright, burning light in dark world.
On the day Amzie was diagnosed, the world got just a little bit darker. I’ll never forget that drive from the hospital back to HSMGroup that evening. As the emotional anesthetic of shock began to slowly wear off, there was a palpable pain in the room. And with tears in our eyes and fear in our hearts, we asked the Lord for peace, for comfort, and for healing. But God, in His goodness, chose to give Amzie the thing He knew she needed most – time.
Time to grieve and time to grapple. Time for family and time for friends. Time to learn and to laugh. Time to see the world. Time for concerts and movies and more Chick-fil-a. Time for us all to get on our faces before the Lord and beg Him to intervene, and time to trust in His goodness if He didn’t. Time to plan and to prepare. Time to say goodbye.
I had resolved in my heart from the day of diagnosis to be for Amzie whatever it was that she needed as she walked what was sure to be a long and difficult journey. I wanted to give her everything that I possibly could – yet, I quickly learned that you just can’t out-give that girl. She gave to others like it was her job. She gave both out of abundance and out of lack. So instead of being a giver, I became a taker. I took time to be with her, and I took lots of photos. I closed my eyes and asked the Lord to allow me to absorb the moments we spent together into my memory.
But perhaps the greatest thing I took from Amzie were the lessons that she taught me, the lessons she taught all of us, really.
-She taught me the value in authenticity, as she leveraged her scars and her pain to see the name of Christ proclaimed.
-She taught me that those things we worry about – like money and comfort and the future – they fall flat in the face of eternity.
-She taught me that sometimes the most courageous thing you can do is to be a voice for the vulnerable.
-She taught me that kindness costs us nothing, but Christ will cost us everything. We get one shot at this thing down here, and to live life for ourselves is to waste it entirely.
-She taught me that we can pick joy, even when we’re hurting.
-She taught me that hair, clothes and makeup have no bearing on beauty.
And one of my favorites – the way she taught self-confidence. Whether being told she looked beautiful in that dress or adorable in that hat, she received most compliments with her signature phrase, “I know, but thank you.”
But more secure than her confidence in self was her confidence in Christ and her certainty in where she was headed at the end of her earthly days. There was one night this past summer that we were driving to my house, and Amzie told me she was feeling a bit scared, and she asked me if I was too. I told her I wasn’t, but I lied a little. The truth was that on that night particularly, I felt my heart crumbling under the pressure to wear a brave face and I was held captive by the anxiousness that our friendship was experiencing some of its lasts.
As we pulled up to my house and walked through the hallway, we passed three pictures that have been fixtures in my home for as long as I can remember. They are simple photos inside of frames that read “faith” “hope” and “love.” As Amzie made her way down the hallway, her shoulder brushed up against one of the frames, knocking it from the wall and shattering it into pieces. She apologized profusely as we bent down to pick up the glass, and turning it over she said, “I broke hope!” But as I pulled the picture from the glass, I said, “no you didn’t! it was just the frame!”
The Lord spoke something over my life that day, and used that moment to teach my anxious heart something it will never forget. Frames are fragile. Our frames are fragile. But when hope is inside of us, everything around us can break, but not our hope. Hebrews 6 tells us that hope is an anchor for the soul that is both sure and steadfast. That means it can’t be moved, it can’t be broken! Amzie knew this, and she lived out her days like she believed it – and she wants for us to live like we believe it too. I’ve learned that hope harnesses us to heaven in a special way – and by grabbing ahold of it, it’s as if we’re holding hands with the One who holds her.
I am so incredibly humbled to have walked this journey with Amzie, and for the privilege to lean in, to listen, and to learn from her legacy. Our homecoming queen made it Home; what a beautiful love story to watch unfold. I have hunch that in the presence of Love Himself, she found answers to those questions about true love, and that she knows much more about it than we ever will this side of heaven.
It is with joy I remember that she is more alive today than ever before, and with each passing day, we are moving closer towards her, not farther away. I want to close by echoing those last three words she whispered to me on this earth, just days before she set sail for her Homeland: “see you soon,” she said.
And soon, we will.