An extraordinary hope
March 22 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

An extraordinary hope | Friday, March 23, 2001

Friday, March 23, 2001

An extraordinary hope

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor She was not a little girl any more, but she was her daddy's little girl, and her mama's. When Amanda Pilson started feeling sick on New Year's Day, nobody panicked. She was at home in Asheboro during Christmas break from her sophomore year at Appalachian State University. She had been a bit under the weather. It had been a good holiday, spending time with her close-knit family - her parents, Jeanne and Craig, her younger sister, Sheila - and her lifelong friends.

But then she became extremely nauseous. She went to bed for a while, but things got worse. So her dad took her to an urgent care center, where she got some shots and instructions to go back to bed. But she didn't feel any better. She asked her mom to stay close by. Everyone waited for the shots to work.

They didn't.

Around midnight, Amanda experienced something like a seizure. Shortly after, she stood up and said, "We have to go now!" Then she fell to the floor.

And died.

Right there, in her own bedroom, a promising, winsome, Christ-loving 19-year-old left this world too soon and went on to find another room prepared for her.

For a while, there was speculation that a reaction to penicillin had caused her death. Later, an autopsy established the cause of death as acute myocarditis, a rare heart infection that works quickly and is difficult to diagnose.

What do you do when a child dies? What do you say? How do you make sense of it all? How do you cope?

Craig and Jeanne and Sheila have chosen to keep on keeping on. They have honored Amanda, as they should. They have thought of her every day. And they've gone on with life. Sheila is back in school, and Craig is back at work. So is Jeanne, known by many N.C. Baptists as the guest services coordinator at Caraway Conference Center.

Craig offered a brief eulogy at Amanda's funeral. He recalled how faithful she had been in her Christian walk, in her willingness to take a stand for Jesus. "We are all grieving our loss of Amanda," he said, "but God has used this to bring a message. The message may be different for each person, but the message Amanda would want everyone to feel is 'Don't straddle the fence, be middle of the road, be undecided about Jesus.'"

Amanda's death, like the death of others who leave behind such promise, is a great blow to all who loved her, and who love her still. God cannot be blamed for it. And yet, God has a remarkable ability to bring something good even from the deepest pain.

Amanda's example was and is and will be a strong witness to others, who may listen more carefully because her death is a reminder of their own mortality.

Amanda's family and friends will discover new avenues of God's grace and mercy as they lean on Him for support and trust in Him for daily wisdom on days when "the presence of her absence is everywhere," as another bereaved parent expressed it.

In a poem written before her death, Amanda spoke of individuality:

Speak your mind. Dare to be different. Be the leader, Don't follow the crowd ... Every individual is unique. Special in his own way. Be proud of yourself. Prove to be extraordinary.

The Easter season is upon us, and with it, a reminder of resurrection hope for all who have loved ones on heaven's bright shore.

And that is extraordinary, indeed.

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3/22/2001 11:00:00 PM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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