Lives changed, hearts transformed, souls won over for Jesus & life put into perspective is what Erika's legacy has left us with.
It was a week, today, that I was at the hospital watching the doctor's do everything in their power to restore Erika's health.
It was a week, today, that we watched the medical staff walk out of her room, one by one, with tears streaming down their face delivering the news that her fight was over.
It was a week, today, that we spent two hours with her waiting for the paralytic medications to wear off, so they could remove her ventilator. We spent that time worshiping our Lord and Savior, holding her, telling her how much we loved her and how proud we were of her. We told her that it was OK to stop fighting and that she could go Home now. We told her that we would take care of her babies, and Sam too.
It was a week, today, that they were finally able to take her ventilator out. The forty minutes that Erika lived without it felt like a flash before my eyes. I never gave up hope that God could have a Lazarus moment--heal her body or raise her from the dead. As we watched her heart rate slowly decline we clung on a little tighter to her body, not quite ready to let her go. Finally at 3:25PM, her heart beat for one last time and she made her grand entrance into Heaven. Our bodies really are just a home for our spirit, as soon as she was gone, her body looked immediately lifeless.
Throughout Erika's journey with Leukemia and pneumonia there was an undeniable peace in any room that she housed. I can look back on the last nine months and say that the Lord never left our side. He strategically placed people in our lives and even allowed us to witness a few miracles. Erika's life has not only changed our family's, for the better, but 100s of other people.
I was planning on sharing some memories of Erika at her funeral, but I couldn't mustard up the words or would have I been able to contain my composure. So, I wanted to share with you today what my sweet sister-in-law meant to me.
The first time I met Erika was in February of 2003. Josh and I had only been dating for a few months and we were spending the weekend with her & Sam in Chanhassen. Josh & I were attending college in Fargo, so we didn't get to her house until late. Being the great hostess that she was, she whipped up the most amazing Fettuccine Alfredo. Josh & I still talk about it. It was a great weekend getting to know her.
Some of my favorite memories with Erika are going to hip hop dance classes at LifeTime Fitness on Sunday night's, reliving our glory days! (When they lived in the cities). Working out together--going to Carlos State Park and walking the trails, taking our boys on walks, mountain biking and running.
We both loved to shop, I learned a lot from her and was always in awe of the deals she would find and the amount of bags she would bring home. We would say that the Lord knew we needed to be sister-in-laws because we were the exact same size---pants, tops and shoes!! Erika had one of the most giving hearts, she was always giving me her handy-me downs and I was always so thankful. It was fun to be able to share. She would call me when she would get home from a shopping trip and tell me to come over so I could see all of her new treasures! I am really going to miss that. Husband's don't get as excited, nor do they appreciate our fashion shows!
Saturday mornings were typically spent at Caribou Coffee. Mary, Erika & I would spend hours there sharing our hearts, laughing and just enjoying each other's company. As the years went on, our little boys would join us. Sometimes we would spend all morning there, then head to Doolittle's to get our favorite salads and spur the economy at the shops downtown.
When Erika's heart was hurting she was still able to love to the fullest. Josh & I were able to conceive very easily and that was not Erika's experience. I remember when I first found out I was pregnant with Logan, I was really nervous to tell her because I knew of all of the heart ache and procedures she was going through. When I told her she was so excited and never let on too being jealous. She was so gracious to us, hosted a baby shower for us and shared in our excitement and joy. When Logan arrived she would come over to the house a few times a week after work so she could spend time with him. Logan & her had a very special bond. Only auntie Kaka could fix his hurts and her snacks were the very best!
Erika and I were excited to be mom's to our boys. We had fun dreaming about what it would be like when they all got a little older. We both wanted our boys to be close--not just cousins, but best friends. We talked about taking our kids on vacations together, we wanted them to play all of the same sports and we loved dressing them up like "little men!" We wanted to raise our boys to have hearts after our Heavenly Father, to be respectful, hard working, wise, honest, trustworthy and kind. Erika & I always talked about adopting "little Erika's!"
Erika was someone I could trust. I knew I could confide in her and that she would give me honest feedback. I knew she would always be there for me and that she had my back! Erika was one of my prayer warriors!
I loved watching Erika in the kitchen. She was a gourmet cook! I was in awe with her taste buds and how she could throw together a delicious meal at any given moment. She made sure you never left their house hungry!
Life will never be the same without her. I hope to continue to carry out her legacy of telling other's about Jesus. To let her little boys know what kind of women she was and how much she loved them. The last nine months have been grueling to walk through, but they have been life changing--for the better! Erika was not just beautiful on the outside, but the inside as well. Erika's legacy will never be forgotten!