Have you ever heard the phrase, “there in spirit?” Do you know what it really means? Have you ever really felt someone with you in spirit? It’s an incredible and indescribable feeling. Today, I had the tremendous pleasure of participating in Lauren Bump’s 25th Birthday celebration. This celebration wasn’t like most birthday celebration’s however, because this celebration was held at OP Schnabel park, the same park where Lauren Bump was killed almost seven months ago. At this celebration, Lauren’s friends, family, and a few strangers celebrated Lauren’s life by releasing pink (Lauren’s signature color) balloons into the sky and then walking a silent mile in her honor. While I was celebrating Lauren’s life today with so many people who actually knew her, I could feel her presence everywhere. It was quite the mindboggling experience, because I never actually met Lauren in person, but after thinking about it, it all makes sense now.
I felt Lauren’s presence with me while I was walking with my best friend Holly. I felt her presence while I was talking to her best friend, Gabby Jimenez, and I felt her presence when I met her mother, Lauri Bump. You see, knowing someone isn’t about meeting them in person. Knowing someone is about seeing their influence reflected through other people’s lives.
With my best friends, Allie and Holly, I’ve recently learned that Lauren has been impacting my life since the moment I met them August of 2012, over a year before she died. When I met Allie and Holly, it was at youth group and we shared what were called “Roses and Thorns.” A rose is something positive that has happened to you, while a thorn is something negative that has happened to you. I knew Allie and Holly for over a year and even began using “Roses and Thorns” with the third through fifth graders in my Sunday school class, before learning that Lauren had used the “Roses and Thorns” with Allie and Holly, who then used them with me. More than that, after reading Lauren’s personal blogs and hearing her loved ones talk about her, I can see Lauren in some of the things that Allie and Holly do and say, not because I knew Lauren, but because they did. And when you know someone, especially someone so wholesome and godly that means the world to you, you reflect that person in your everyday life.
When I first met Lauren’s best friend, Gabby, I had the honor of being introduced by Allie and Holly as the girl who wrote “Live Like Lauren”. Then I was told that Gabby had not only read, but been touched by my post. After introductions, I was able to sit and listen to the three girls who were so close Lauren talk about her, and Lauren’s presence was there too. She was there in the sadness in their eyes, the love in their voices, and the joy in their knowing she was in a better place, however difficult that is to accept. Today, when I met Gabby again, I could see Lauren in the same ways that I did the first time.
Today, when I met Lauren’s mom, Lauri Bump, I introduced myself as “Brittany, the girl who wrote the blog post about Lauren,” because I knew that she had read “Seek Peace, Keep a Joyful Heart, and in All Things Do with Love.” – Lauren Michelle Bump. The moment the words were out of my mouth, I was embraced in the hug of love that only a mother could give and I felt Lauren there, too. I saw her in the face of her mother, whom she looks very much like. I felt her Lauren in the equal parts pain and equal parts love of a hurt mother’s hug.
Do you know why I, someone who never had the chance to meet Lauren in person, am able to see and feel her presence so well? It’s because when you’re close enough to someone that you give them a part of your heart, your souls connect in such a way that you’re never truly apart, and that’s what Allie, Holly, Gabby, and Lauri have done. They have each given Lauren a piece of their heart that they will never have for just themselves again. I believe the true is same of Lauren, while she was still physically on this earth, she gave pieces of her heart to each girl, like Allie and Holly that she ministered to, she gave a piece to her best friend, Gabby, and to her family members, such as her mother.
Because these women have given Lauren pieces of their heart and because Lauren has given them pieces of heart, I truly believe that they are never ever apart. Even in the moments when they must go about their everyday lives as if no one is missing, Lauren is still there, cheering them on, making them feel loved, and letting them know that she will always be with them. I believe this is the same reason why I am able to feel Lauren’s presence when I am around them, because even though I didn’t have an opportunity to give Lauren a piece of my heart or to receive a piece of her heart, I have had the opportunity to know people who have. So, I feel like somehow, someway God has allowed my soul and Lauren’s soul to cross paths and meet. I feel like I really do know Lauren, not in the same deep and personal way that Allie, Holly, Gabby, and Lauri know Lauren, but in a different, supernatural kind of way—a way that only God could allow, through leading me into the paths of Allie, Holly, Gabby, and Lauri, so that my life would be impacted by the life of a girl whom I haven’t met, but who is still here.
Lauren Bump is here in spirit and I don’t believe she’ll be leaving any time soon, especially not as long as the beautiful hearts of Lauri Bump, Gabby, Allie and Holly are around to spread love and joy across the world.