when i found out rhonda had died, after the immediate shock passed, i was numb for a long time.
it took a while until i felt anything.
but slowly, i started noticing that rhonda's name was echoing through my mind. literally, it was like i was hearing "rhonda, rhonda" over and over.
for those of you who don't know, i'm something of a name person. to me, names matter. what the name means matters. there are very beautiful names i've completely eliminated for my kids (present and future) because i can't name them something that means "from the purple grass" or something like that. you know? aly's full name is loaded with meaning, both officially and personally. for nick and i, the names we give our children are prophetic and are our first task when we bring a child into this world--we prophesy identity on them. not everyone feels that way. but we do.
so after hearing rhonda's name for like four hours, i finally typed it into a favorite baby-naming site to find out what it means. thought maybe that would bring me some clarity.
rhonda is a English name. it means "noisy".
when i first read that, i frowned. i thought that was awful for someone i knew to be so genuine.
and then, like a sponge, it started to sink in. and i listened and thought about this for a while.
when we went to rhonda's viewing last night, people were waiting in line outside the funeral home to pay their respects. we arrived 20 minutes after it started and waited in like for two and a half hours. (thirty of those minutes were outside in the cutting winter wind.) when we left at nine o'clock, there was at least another hour and a half of people in line waiting.
everyone wanted their chance to acknowledge rhonda. to love on keith. to hug their daughters. to tell her family how special she has been.
when we finally reached keith, who we have fought with on the front lines, we looked into him and saw his conflict. appreciation and humility at all the love being poured upon his family. exhaustion. hunger. strength. sadness. hope. we offered to go get him some food (it had been many hours since his last meal), but his first thought was how rude it would be to the crowd of waiting friends if he paused to eat. food could wait. even in his mourning, even in his grief, even in weakness, keith showed his metal. keith is a man who shoulders the battle and doesn't run from it. he is a genuine, loving brother to nick and i and so many in the kingdom. he is extraordinary.
i kept thinking about "rhonda" and "noisy" as we left the funeral home.
suddenly the revelation hit me squarely.
it wasn't rhonda who was noisy. it was rhonda's life that was.
i've heard many stories about rhonda in the past week and the echo of rhonda's life will continue indefinitely. she truly impacted and served and blessed and gave. rhonda's sound was so much bigger than her petite little five-feet-or-so would have indicated. thousands of people put their week-of-christmas schedules on hold to stand in line to testify about rhonda. the funeral home folks said it was the largest viewing they had seen in fifteen or twenty years.
it's so true that rhonda was one noisy gal. she resonated. she echoes still.
i'll bet heaven is a little noisier now too. between rhonda's laughter, her singing, and her intercession, i'm sure the angels are nudging each other about the new girl and how glad they are she's finally arrived. because no matter where rhonda goes, in this dimension or the next, she will always be the piece that when it's added, you realize suddenly that you've been missing her the whole time.
we love you, rhonda. see you later.