On Leaving a Legacy

I ate an energy bar tonight thinking it was a granola bar, and two hours later I’m still wide awake.  The house is unusually quiet, and for some reason my mind has drifted back to an old friend, one I find myself thinking about often.

199944_4308977105_6032_nWhen I was in Bible college there was this unbelievably beautiful girl in my education classes who one day slid her lunch tray beside mine and struck up a conversation.  You know the kind of friend who grows on you slowly?  Aimee wasn’t like that.  She was more like a diamond you find at a gas station–an extraordinary treasure in a completely ordinary world.  She spoke fluent Mandarin Chinese, had dreams the size of Antarctica, zero pretenses, and a heart as genuinely alive as her bright blue eyes.  That day we talked and laughed at the lunch table until every last scrap was cleared up and put away.  And from then on, I loved Aimee Powell.

We would go out to eat, order something loaded with carbs and talk about all the things college girls love to talk about–class, and boys, and friends, and Jesus, and all we hoped to do and be.  I saw her giddy, and I saw her heartbroken.  And I never once doubted that Aimee would lead a very grand life.

Then three years after graduating from college, on a boring January morning Aimee was killed in a car accident.  And just like that, in two seconds flat, I learned that she was gone.  You want to know the truth?  Part of me still can’t believe it.  Three years later I still cry when I think about her.  I cry for myself because I miss her.  I cry for the future I imagined she would have.  I cry for her family because I know that if in four years she brought such joy to my life, she must’ve been sunshine in theirs.

But amid all the tears, I have a profound sense of peace when I think of Aimee.  On the one hand, it seems maddeningly unfair.  She never got to marry the dashingly handsome man I just knew she was destined for, never got to raise a house full of children or become famous and change the world.  But as I watched the newscast about the accident, I listened to an anchor woman who didn’t even know Aimee testify about Aimee’s life–the students who loved her, the mission trips she took, the Facebook page that shared her passionate love for Jesus.  And like lightning it struck me, Aimee did it.  She ran the race all the way to the very end, and she crossed the finish line, faithful.  

She hadn’t led the extraordinary life I always imagined she would lead.  Instead she’d led one ordinary life, with extraordinary faithfulness.  You know what?  I think that is more inspiring than marrying a dashingly handsome man and changing the world.

Tonight I am proud of my friend.  I am grateful to have been part of her beautiful life.  And I am encouraged to follow her example and live this one, ordinary life of mine with all the extraordinary faithfulness only Jesus can supply, so that one day I, too, will cross the finish line victorious.  This one’s for you, my beautiful friend.  Wish you were here with me tonight.


20 thoughts on “On Leaving a Legacy

  1. Although I did not know Aimee , I know members of her family. Her grandmother was a friend of my sister and also my friend. Her story is worth sharing. Thanks for doing it.

    1. You know, it has amazed me to realize how many people knew Aimee and/or her family. I expected very few people to view this article and already it’s been viewed hundreds of times. What a legacy.

  2. This arrives on a day that we remember the life of one of our friends who was taken, as we would see it, prematurely. He lived a life for Jesus and serving others. He, as Aimee, finished well and strong. What a great reminder. Thank you for you beautiful words that inspire me dear friend. Karen

    1. This just makes me realize (once again) that God’s timing is so amazing. Praise the Lord for men like your friend and women like Aimee who we will get to celebrate with for all eternity!

  3. I only know of amy through friends who speak of her often and with lots of love. She indeed left a legacy and it reaches beyond her life.

  4. Very nicely written. My husband and i taught Aimee in Taiwan for two years, along with most of her siblings. Although it has been years and miles between us and her and her family, we love them all and both of us feel blessed to have known Aimee and her family. Your story is a wonderful tribute to a very bright young woman who did impact many lives in her short life.

  5. I did not know Aimee, but was inspired by her grandmother. and by Aimees story. I remember the frantic phone call we got to pray for Aimee that horrible morning… only to find out she was gone. but her spirit lives on thru these children in India… It has been so sweet to watch the children grow healthy in body mind and spirit. agapebihar.com or facebook agapebihar pastor Victor Kumar runs this sweet program and could use your prayers to keep it going…
    Aimee…… I’m sorry I didn’t know her. thank you for sharing your sweet thoughts and memories.

  6. Aimee was a rare and precious gift from the Lord. To know her was to love her. I am just so thankful the Lord allowed me to know and love her. She was truly like a granddaughter to me. I was Grammy to her and what a blessing and privilege that was. Acts 13:36 “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed”. We do not grieve as those who have no hope. One day we will be reunited with our sweet Aimee. In the meantime we rejoice with her as she is with her bridegroom.

  7. Love your thoughts on Amy. She is the daughter of dear friends and played with my children when we lived next door to them. I knew her when she was a child — and even then your description of her rings true. Your thoughts on her life give me a new perspective on death. Thank you!

  8. Jeanne, I have to follow up with a note! I’ll confess that several of those viewings of your post are from me…Aimee’s mother!! I have gone back to this page so many times yesterday and today, just relishing what you have written about Aimee, missing her so much, yet so very thankful for the impact of her life. You’ve probably seen how many times your blog has been shared on Facebook since you posted it to Aimee’s wall and then I shared it to my wall. Thank you for doing that! I continue to be amazed at the network of people who prayed for Aimee at the time of her accident and who continue to pray for us…people we’ve never met but who have heard our story. I could write a book, and have actually been encouraged to do that, but for now it feels like too much so I delight in the fact that others love Aimee like we do and are willing to share their thoughts…like you have done.
    I did laugh hard when you wrote of her having “dreams the size of Antarctica”! What a great statement and so true!! I have her journals, a very personal glimpse into her life, and she had quite the list of things she wanted to do and places she wanted to go. I can only imagine what she is seeing and doing now.
    This note could go on and on! Aimee was real, she wasn’t perfect (though she is now!) and she could be brutally honest. Life was a struggle at times. She laughed a lot and cried a lot. But I think you captured her so well in your descriptions. Thank you for beautifully remembering a dear friend and our precious daughter. And thank you for eating that energy bar!!

    1. You may have viewed this post several times, but you are not the only one! It has been viewed almost 1,200 times in 15 different countries!! And the number just keeps climbing. I have just been blown away. In her short life, Aimee influenced people across the entire globe! I just had to share that with you–another thought to treasure about your amazing daughter. If you ever write a book and want a chapter contributed from a friend who knew Aimee, I would love to write it. Just something to think about 🙂

  9. I only met her once, just before the accident. She lit up the room. We had never met, and I didn’t know many people well at the baby shower we were at, but she sat next to me. We talked, and she felt like an instant friend. Sort of how you described here. That doesn’t happen often.
    Isaiah 57:1-2 “The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”
    Thanks for helping us ponder…

  10. Thanks Jeanne for your post it was sweet and honest. I went to CIU with Aimee also. We were RA’s together and because I was dating someone outside of school most of the girls didn’t have the time to be friends but not Aimee. She was always good to smile, be kind and befriend me without pretense. She left a lasting impression. I still remember the day we lost her and have thought of her on many days. It’s fun how I see her in other people. Her eyes or laugh or see someones zeal for children and remember her excitement and nervousness for her next steps in life. Honestly- Aimee was one of the most sincere and sweetest people I’ve ever met. Always a kind word, always quick to give that great smile. Her legacy to me is to live each day, speak words of life to everyone I come in contact with and run as hard as she always did.

  11. Jeanne, I’m Aimee’s aunt. Thank you so much for this wonderful tribute to our sweet Aimee! Loved her dearly, as I do her brothers and sister! We all miss her so much! None of us knows the extent of our influence and you have reminded me, again, to count each day precious and live it full out for the Lord! Thank you!
    And, Leslie, if you ever do write that book, please ask Jeanne for permission to include this!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment! I missed Aimee’s funeral because I had just given birth at the time, and it has been a source of much disappointment. I really wanted to meet all the people who loved her and grieve with them–for the first time I saw how a funeral could be comforting in that sense. But God is so good–this article has given me a chance to “meet” so many people who loved Aimee & celebrate her life with them!

  12. My sister was so much like Aimee, and she too died in a car accident. I can’t believe she’s gone, and it hurts so much every day. Thank you for this tribute to your friend. It made me so grateful for the one short life my sister lived… the race she ran and finished for God’s glory!

  13. Thanks for sharing. The presence of God was so evident in Aimee’s life. She was a town built on a hill (Matt 5:14). Praise God for her life!

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