Hi. If it’s okay with you, I’d really just like to talk for a bit. Something happened this past week that was really hard. One of the students from my oldest’s high school died. Her name was Audrey Lupton. She fought a short battle with a very rare, aggressive cancer. She would have been a senior this year. Her death brought to mind, yet again, that life is precious.
I didn’t know Audrey, but because she was part of the close-knit community that is University High School in Indianapolis, it hit close to the heart. Experiencing the way the school rallied around her and her family was beautiful to see. Every student in the school was given t-shirts with Audrey’s Army on it and, on certain days, the entire school would wear the shirts in support of her. The staff sent email updates about her to the entire community. There were also numerous fundraisers in her honor to help Riley Children’s Hospital, where she was treated. What they did specifically for her was beyond touching – from helping her make and fulfill a bucket list to putting together and giving her a very nice graduation ceremony, just for her. It took place at Riley Hospital. She was even presented with a list of colleges where she had been accepted. (You can read about it all here.) This is the heart of UHS.
My heart aches for her family. I remember when I first took my oldest to the school as a freshman. Even though he was just starting out, in my mind I could see him reaching his graduation and growing into an adult. There were so many things to look forward to, both for and with him. It’s what parents do. We enjoy them while they’re with us, while we dream of what is to come. I know Audrey’s parents dreamed similar dreams and looked forward to seeing where life would take their daughter. It’s heartbreaking to know those dreams won’t come true.
From everything I’ve read and heard about Audrey, she lived life to the fullest. She was an accomplished and talented artist and was involved in so many aspects of school and life. When I read about her last days, one of the things that struck me was that she was mostly concerned about those around her. She worried about how her friends and family members would be after she was gone. That says so much about her heart.
The loss of someone so young presses every button that asks, “Why?” But there are never adequate answers to these questions. The world we live in is far from perfect. Heartache and pain reside where we live and they touch our lives more often than we can handle. Life can be savage. When someone dies, especially so young and unexpected, my heart breaks and a feeling of shame takes over. It’s not because I feel I had anything to do with their deaths. It’s because when the one I loved died, so many times, I imagined what it must have been like living the last day of his life, knowing he would be leaving it, especially when he was choosing to do so.
And now, when others die, especially after such a hard fight like Audrey, I feel so overwhelmingly sad for the life they lost after fighting so hard and bravely to live, knowing that the one I loved just threw his life away. I know it’s not my shame to carry, but it’s there nonetheless.
Life is precious and fleeting. It’s not something to be thrown away or wasted. My heart aches for the Lupton family. As they say, Audrey is now on another great adventure. There is hope after this life. It is just so hard to say goodbye. I know this is what her family is experiencing now and for some time. Our hope isn’t in this world, but life is a gift. Treasure it to the fullest.
~ Joanna Lynn