Monday, June 16, 2008

Amanda

Vacation was beautiful. 

It was probably a beautiful thing, but the internet went out 2 days into our trip so I just got home.

I would like to take a moment to say goodbye to Amanda.  She was beautiful, she was perky and I feel as though I am better for meeting her.  

I met her twice.  Once at a show when she was backstage to meet Chris Rich, her true fave.  She came and told me that she loved my singing and that she thought I was funny.  Then I noticed she was posting on my blog.

Back then a lot more people were posting and many times it was hard to keep up with who was who.  I didn't know that the "core group" (as they became known) would become the "core group" till about 3/4 of the way through the summer.   I mean, for goodness sake I though DJ was a guy!

Amanda had posted about her disease and the kindness on the blog touched me, as I'm sure it did her, too.  I came out of my hotel in Little Rock, AR to film an interview with Ash Grayson for his documentary Bleed Into One and there was a girl waiting in the middle of street who looked oddly familiar.  She had cut her hair since the first time I saw her, and she came running up - quite scarily, I might add - telling me I had to wait!  I had to wait!  Risa from the blog was coming!  

I signed a few autographs for her and we talked for about 5 minutes and she told me more about her condition.  I was amazed at the strength I saw in this little girl.  She was far stronger than I could imagine being under the same circumstances.  She smiled and had fun and actually tried to talk me into waiting around to meet Risa!  It was a joy.

Those few minutes left an indelible mark on me.  She would stop by the blog and I think became accepted as part of the Fro Patro'.  You guys treated her so well, and my heart was overjoyed to see that.  

I didn't get to see Amanda again.  I had hoped to make it down to St. Jude's while she was there, but stupid things got in the way.  I wish I was not so caught up in my own world...I wanted to see her and Sarah and I even talked about going to see her several times over a weekend, but a show would come up here and a dinner would come up here, and poof! time slipped by too quickly.

So, regrets will be regrets and life if full of "what ifs" and "if I's".  What I do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt is that Amanda is far, far away from this life of pain!  She is able to breathe freely!  She is able to run!  She is able to bask in the glow of our Savior!  She is where I long to be!  She is worshipping as pure a worship as there is!  Simply worshipping our Savior for eternity is beyond my belief and is completely my expectation.  In a way, I'm jealous.

But still my heart yearns for the family.  Gladness is found in mourning, but the loss of someone so young...I don't understand it, and never will.   I hope and pray that Amanda's family will know that she was loved - beyond a doubt, she was loved!! 

Here is a song:

I'm Ready

I'm halfway to nothing,
Walking this road, making my way
So tired of the running
Why is every day as long as today
Should I long for all I long for out loud?
Today I'm praying todays the day
You come split open the clouds!

I'm ready to walk, I'm ready to run
I'm ready to find my way to the Son...
...to walk beside that glassy Sea
Hands lifted up for eternity
I'm ready

It's not that I'm unhappy
But nothing could ever compare to You
Forever stands waiting
A life stands beyond the one we dance through
Call me crazy, say my thoughts are strange
But I am dying, I am crying
For something to change!

chorus

All eternity spent in worship alone
I can only imagine my eternal home

chorus

41 comments:

Cathy Storms said...

Yes Amanda was very special. I never got to meet her in person but I feel like I knew her. I will miss her and will never forget her. She is an inspiration to me. Heaven has a very special angel.

Carrie said...

I KNEW as soon as you wrote something I'd start crying again. You don't have to question of Amanda was accepted into the Fro Patro -- she was welcome here day one, even before we knew she was sick. She was just so friendly, funny and downright amazing. Like you, I have always said she was a lot stronger than myself. She suffered and was in pain for two years and hardly ever complained.

Chris, don't ever have regrets. She LOVED you and just about everyone she came into contact with. You have done so much for her and I am pretty sure she appreciated everything. I will miss seeing her around here or reading her updates on her pages but I know that now she is with some pretty great people and finally FREE from cancer and pain.

And that song of course brings memories to myself because, well, you know this year has been pretty heartbreaking not only for myself but for so many people. I don't hate anything in this world other than Cancer. So many wonderful people have lost their lives and it hurts me more than anything to know that there really isn't much I can do to save that. This year alone has inspired me to change and make a difference -- how, I don't know yet but I WILL.

Everyone here, Chris included, you are all such amazing people. I don't know where I would be right now if I didn't know any of you. Amanda was one who helped pull us all even CLOSER.

Tawny said...

As soon as I saw her caringbridge site update I had tears in my eyes. She always brought so much joy and spunk to the blog and although I never met her personally, I feel so thankful to have known her online. She will forever be loved and missed. Her family will remain my my thoughts though these rough days ahead.

risalea said...

No regrets, dear friend.

That was so like Amanda to try to sweet talk you into hanging around longer for me. And just like me to be late! : ) I used to tell her she was going to be a P.I. when she grew up she was so great at tracking down Idols.

I talked to her mom earlier and one thing she asked me was did you know. So I've just texted her to let her know so she can read it. Your words will bring her comfort, and that song...it is so perfect.

The last time I saw Amanda in May, we were talking about the picnic and she was talking about wanting to come. She seemed so much better then....sitting up, playing with her new computer. and we had such a good visit. I tried to downplay the picnic a bit, not expecting this, but just knowing her doctors wouldn't allow her to be around a bunch of people so soon, even if her health got better. I promised her I'd take lots of pictures and bring them to her. Then she said, "but I want to be in the pictures." I didn't know what to say then and the tears are flowing now thinking about that. You will be there, Amanda, in our hearts, at the picnic and always.

I will be at her visitation tomorrow evening and the service Wed. morning, and I will make sure her mom knows how much she meant to all the blogger friends.
Thanks for this blog, Chris...it will mean so much to her mom.

Carmen said...

I only got to meet Amanda once and that was at St. Jude’s. Even though I only met her that one time, Amanda's enduring spirit in the face of such great obstacles had a profound impact on me.
Amanda added so much to this blog. She was funny, uplifting and her positive attitude was absolutely infectious. I remember her sending me an email about an experience she had. She had been looking for you, Chris, at the Memphis concert. She spoke to one of the security guards (not Cathy) there and told the guard she was a Chris Sligh fan and the guard asked her if her name was Carmen. She got the biggest kick out of that.

I am going to miss Amanda so much. She encompassed everything that makes the Fro Patro such a great group of people. Amanda will always live on in our hearts.
Carmen

EmilyBoo said...

Carrie,
I have lost several loved ones to cancer myself, one of those being my father about 2 1/2 years ago. For the past two years I have participated as a team member in the American Cancer Society's relay for life event in a neighboring town. This year's event was a couple weeks ago now and I've also been thinking I want to get more involved in the fight against cancer. I want to try to start up a relay in my own town and be on the planning committee, so I'm going to be contacting ACS and look into how I would go about doing that. Keep us posted on your ideas about getting involved!

I just read Amanda's funeral information. She requested that people wear orange shirts and jeans to the funeral. I'm not sure if I have anything orange, but I'm going to try to come up with something to wear in her honor on Wednesday... I will be there in spirit.

http://www.rollerfuneralhomes.com/services.asp?page=odetail&id=13663&locid=23

chamilton said...

I am sitting here at my computer and for the first time that I can recall, Ican't find words. I stayed away from Amanda's caring bride site for a while because I lost my step dad to cancer and I am just now getting kinda okay from that he was the most awesome grandpa to my children eventhough he didn't have to be (not that he did't make some mistakes along the way) so I didn't want to open myself up to those kind of memories. However, I have to say that after reading this blog and hearing about this amazing girl, I did read some of her postings and feel truely bad for her friends and family, and the people who knew her because the journey cancer takes people on that is like nothing else you can ever experience and it breaks your heart.

To Chris ,
the posting that you have put here is just an example of why you have fans that are so devoted to you. Whether it's a posting for a fan who has passed away or graciously excepting a medel for a little boy who had it blessed by his priest because he hoped it brings you good luck and blessings you are just awesome.

TO Fro Patro,
I don't think that I have ever cared so much about a group of people I have never met and I look forward everyday to reading whats going on with y'all. You guys are just wonderful. Take care all.

Candy

P.S. Looks like I found words...

Hischild said...

Just got home from a long busy day and checked Amanda's Caring Bridge site before the blog. Was SO thrilled to see Chris' comments there (thanks, Risa) AND a new song that just made me cry like a baby. I long to know the tune to sing and blubber it out all at once.
I will be wearing my orange Phx Suns T-shirt and jeans on Wednesday and remembering Amanda, wishing I could be at her memorial. She planned it (how bittersweet is that?) and those who can be there will surely be blessed. Risa, please report to us all that occurs.
I am SO thankful for the internet and how it enriches my life w/long distance friends whom geographical boundaries would have prevented me from knowing.
I REALLY long for the picnic now even more and meeting you all face to face. What a great bunch of people you are!!

Chris:
Those were beautiful, heartfelt words and awfully kind of you to take the time to send them. "I'm Ready" will be super special for me (beyond the ordinary love of your songs) being here (on the blog) for the unveiling at the occasion of Amanda's tribute.

I too, join w/you in praying today is the day He comes and splits open the clouds. Maranatha, come quickly Lord Jesus!

Love to you all!

~clarissa

Carrie said...

EmilyBoo,
I posted about it in the last blog post -- there is an event coming up but to be able to participate I'd have to raise $300 by friday in memory of a cancer patient here. Unfortunately I haven't been watching much TV and didn't hear about it until last night, so it would be pretty unlikely for me to take part in that now.

I posted a ton of links in my blog that are free donation sites -- there is a game like freerice.com but is for music lovers. A lot of cool stuff I found. Until I can find another event or start one of my own locally, I don't know what else I could do.

I had something else to say but I can't remember now. I hope you're all holding in there and doing okay. If anyone needs to talk, feel free to seek me out. I'm feeling okay now because right before I came back online earlier and read this blog, my mom told me almost exactly what Chris said -- that Amanda is free now.

Just one more thing:

What can we do to honor Amanda at the picnic? I know that us being there as the picnic was really raising money for St Jude in the first place is a big honor, but I REALLY feel like there's so much more I personally could do. When I lost my grandpa it was Amanda's strength and the support of all of YOU that kept me going.

Anyway I'm sorry I keep typing up all of these novels. I just want to hug all of you and make everything miraculously better.

HstryQT said...

thank you for that chris; it was perfect.

i wish id gotten to meet amanda; now i'll just have to wait a little longer. she inspired so many.

Im Ready is perfect for her. will you sing that for us at the picnic? amanda wanted to be there so badly.

rosalee said...

For Amanda - From Chris
From the fansite - "I'm Ready"

http://chris-sligh.info/content/view/182/31/

rosalee said...

Thanks for those words, Chris.

I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer at age 69 in 1996. It was not an easy road.

A childhood friend of mine died of leukemia in 2005. Every year in her memory, I sponsor one of my other friends, who participates in the Light the Night Walk (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society). Maybe this year I'll get off of my butt and join her.

DJ in AL said...

Well said, Chris. I was waiting for your post. It's no wonder I love you like I do.

I believe Amanda recognized good people when she met them, or maybe she just saw the good in everyone. She knew you were "good people". You can't live your life with regrets, life is what it is. It's busy, with obligations and priorities and let's face it, we always think we will have more time. But no worries, the Fro Patro made sure Amanda knew that you loved her! That's what we are here for, to help carry the load, we got your back. And what's wonderful is we have each other's back. Like it or not, this is a family! And make no mistake we ARE the Core Group:)

Welcoming you back, missing Amanda and sending comfort and love to my Fro Patro family!


DJ

Cathy Storms said...

What an amazing group of people all of you are. I can't wait for the picnic and meet some of you in person.
Chris, your words are so beautiful and thank you for that.
I will be wearing an orange shirt and jeans tomorrow in honor of Amanda.

EmilyBoo said...

Rosalee,
Thanks for putting up the link to "I'm Ready." It was wonderful.

Carrie,
I don't know if you prefer to raise money for researching a specific type of cancer, or just cancer in general, but I have found the Relay For Life to be very rewarding, not to mention moving, with the luminaria ceremonies and the survivor laps (all those purple shirts! It shows you this thing CAN be beat!) You can check for an event in your area at this link:
http://www.relayforlife.org/relay/findevent
If nothing comes up, there's a form you can fill out to let them know you'd like an event in your area.

chamilton said...

i heard Chris sing I'm Ready at the concert that I went to in Tulsa and it nearly brought me to tears in the middle of all those people that night. Funny but when I read the news of Amanda and how her condition had turned that song was running through my thoughts and it brought me comfort for her and her family. I was overjoyed to see it posted last night. Have a good day all and Risa I am thinking of you and praying for God to give you strength and Amanda's family too. Take Care.

Candy

Steve Ray said...

Chris, I've been lurking around your blog since last fall sometime and today I am coming out of the shadows to say something...THANK YOU! As a worship pastor, I felt more of a connection with you on Idol than most, I suppose. Double that with being on Don Chapman's email list and hearing about you from that angle and I feel like you're an old friend. So I want to say THANK YOU...for not being ashamed of the gospel...for your testimony...for choosing the CCM route (although I would have supported your music either way)...for impacting my teen boys (who love your CD, especially Loaded Gun)...for your music!
Looking forward to seeing you in Houston on 6/28!
-sray
P.S. Would be fun to follow the Adventures of Sligh on Twitter.com!

here i go with all my thoughts said...

Chris,
I thought I was done crying until I read this. Thank you for posting, it was beautiful and you knew exactly what to say. The top 10 Season 6 Idols have done so much for Amanda and her family, some that you probably don't even realize.

I have known of Amanda for quite some time, as my best friend Sam was friends with her. She taught me so much and inspired me to be a better, stronger person. I had the opportunity to meet her once, when she was at St. Jude's. That girl..her smile lit up the room as she talked about Idol and all the friends she made at St. Judes. She asked us about you, Chris. It was a time when she wasn't able to use the computer or phone much, and she knew I read your blog. So she asked me how you were doing and how all the bloggers were doing. I gave her a full report and she was so excited.

Thank you for the beautiful post Chris!

<3 Megan

GirlyGirl45 said...

Amanda has left us? I'm so sorry. She was a kick in the pants here; she jumped right into the party. At the same time, she was a straight shooter about her fight. I am grateful for her candor; it is helping me get my mind around my brother's battle, which has really just begun. Thank you, Amanda, for touching our lives here, being such a bright light, and a kick-butt warrior. I am glad she is at peace now and out of pain.

-Di. said...

First Tim Russert's sudden death now Amanda.

I've been MIA but I always take the time to drop by to see how the the Fro Patro is.

If there is any comfort it is knowing that Amanda and Tim Russert lived their lives to its fullest.

Amanda's family are in my thoughts and prayers.

-Diane.

kooshes said...

Sligh, that is why I love you. I keep reading here although I seldom post. I love reading your blogs with the updates, music, happenings, thoughts & ideas. You express yourself so well & your Fro Patrol is a terrific group of peeps - witty, sassy, smart & loving.
I share everyone's mix of sadness and joy at having lost our Amanda for the time being, and just wanted to send some love this way from a fellow Sligh, Chris Rich, & Amanda fan.
You all are in my thoughts and prayers as well as Amanda's family. And Chris, thanks for such beautiful words. God bless you for the gift he's given you.
Love,
kooshes

risalea said...

Just wanted to let you guys know about some amazing women I met tonight. For those of you who visited Amanda's caringbridge journal, Janice Durand from AZ, Mandy Meanes from VA, and Glenna Sawyers (also VA) flew and drove (in Glenna's case, drove 900 miles) to be here for Amanda. They knew her from the Richness and the E-Train. They are just as sweet and wonderful in person as I knew them to be through their posts.

Tonight was amazing. Literally hundreds of people came through the chapel for Amanda's visitation. It started at 5...I got there at 6 and waited at least 45 minutes in line. The line never stopped and it was almost 9 before the last person got through.

I didn't come prepared because I didn't know until I got here, but Amanda wanted everyone to wear orange shirts (the color for leukemia awareness) and jeans to the funeral. So I ran to Lane Bryant after my meeting today and got the brightest orange shirt I could find (not my best color---only for you, dear Amanda) and a pair of jeans. I imagine it will be nothing but a sea of orange in the morning.

Tammy sends her love and appreciation to all who have supported Amanda throughout the past months. She said tonight that about 3 years ago she was talking to her youth minister about going into the ministry. Her dream was fulfilled, but in a different way. She certainly ministered to everyone she met, through her smiles and her joyful attitude.

Risa

Hischild said...

Wow Risa!
Thanks for posting tonight's events. I'm sure you were very tired.
Your last paragraph especially got to me. Amanda DEFINATELY went "into the ministry" didn't she? God's ways are not always understandable OR to our liking but they ARE always perfect.

Wishing SO much that I could join you tomorrow to represent.

~clarissa

DJ in AL said...

Risa,

I'm not surprised by the multitude of people who came to honor Amanda, as you and others have said what a testament to a life. If we all could touch others with the same grace and loving spirit wouldn't the world be a better place?

Sending you love and strength to get through today.

Love you!

DJ

Anonymous said...

I am a nurse and often questioned why young people die. I finally read something that made sense; its not about them, its a lesson/message for people around them. Lke be kinder, or more tolerant, or say and do things now so you won't regret later not saying or doing it. So I guess she did her "job" here on earth, she touched all of us and taught us to reach out to each other.

Cathy Storms said...

I'm so glad so many people were there. I can only imagine how many will be there today.
I have on my orange shirt...
Risa, thanks for being there for all of us.

rosalee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rosalee said...

I have on my orange shirt as well.
Here are a couple of items on Amanda:

From People Magazine 2006:
http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,1221981,00.html

A notice from her college:
http://www.wbcoll.edu/news/viewnews.php?id=000000001132

Carrie said...

Also wearing orange today for Amanda! Her family must be so proud of their daughter. Think of how many lives she has changed. Risa, you are a great representation for the Fro Patro. I hope as sad as today is you're holding in there.

And anon, that is so true.

risalea said...

I wanted to share a little with you about Amanda's service today and some good news I got this evening.

The service was hard, as you can imagine, but also had moments of laughter as Amanda was remembered. The chapel was full. It was indeed a sea of orange.

Amanda's youth minister performed the service. He had a hard time getting through it and broke down several times. He was very close to her. He drew smiles and laughs talking about her stubborn streak and her "stalking" of the American Idols. Chris, your song would have fit in perfectly as Jeff talked about the race Amanda ran, how she never gave up and finished with the greatest prize ever. (Tammy was able to listen to "I'm Ready" tonight--thanks, Rosalee, for posting the link.)

2 Timothy 2:6-8
6As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. 7I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return.


Amanda asked that everyone write a note to her which were released inside orange balloons graveside. I have a pic of that and I've sent it to Rosalee....Rosalee,can you put it on your photobucket and put a link up? I can't do it from here.
I neglected to mention another E-Trainer, Barbie Valeri, who drove up from Huntsville, AL. It is absolutely amazing to me, how many lives Amanda touched.

And now, I have some wonderful news. I went back over to the friend's house where Tammy is staying, and right after I walked in, Tammy asked me when the picnic was. I told her, and she said, "we're coming." She's bringing her good friend Paula, and her daughter, Lindsay, who was Amanda's best friend. She said Amanda wanted to come so badly, she's coming for her. I am absolutely thrilled. You guys who are coming will love her and I know you will make them feel welcome.

That's it. Thank you for all y'all's kind messages and for the love and support you gave Amanda through our little group here. Chris is right, he has the best fans ever (the best people ever!)

Carrie said...

Oh wow, Risa. That entire thing just touches my heart and it was hard not to tear up reading it. I can't even imagine how hard it was being there. It's really exciting that Tammy will be at the picnic. I'll try not to cry there because apparently I cry a lot haha. But that's such a great way to honor Amanda and I know she'll be watching us all during the picnic.

Hischild said...

Risa,
Thanks for the report of the service. I've had a very long and busy day and just now getting to my pc but all day I've been looking forward to coming home to read your post.
I know you were a great representative for the Fro Patro and am glad we can meet Tammy's friend and daughter at the picnic.

II Tim 2:6-8 was perfect for the occasion. Was that what her youth pastor shared today?? This passage always comes to mind when I think of my father-in-law who lost his battle w/cancer in our home a few years ago. On Sunday when reading of Amanda's passing, I also thought it applied so aptly to her. They both were a testimony to me of how we are to finish this race - not with bitterness and fear but with love and grace and dignity.

rosalee said...

Here's the link to the photo of the balloons being released at Amanda's gravesite:

http://s240.photobucket.com/albums/ff4/rosaleeNY/Balloons_for_Amanda.jpg

risalea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
risalea said...

http://i211.photobucket.com/albums/
bb163/risalea/0618081232c.jpg

Darn this blogspot and the cutting off of links! Trying again.

risalea said...

Yes, Clarissa, Jeff did use that passage. I wish I could remember everything he said. The thing I won't forget about Amanda was her fighting spirit.

Those balloons going up were a beautiful representation of Amanda leaving the restraints of this earth and her disease and her new eternal life.

rosalee said...

Risa -

My link works. It looks like it's cut off, but it's not. You have to highlight more than is necessary. Always highlight the next line below it as well (in this case, it's the timestamp), before you copy and paste.

EmilyBoo said...

Risa,
Thanks for your report on how the services went. It sounds like it was a lovely sendoff for Amanda. It's also nice to hear that Tammy and her friend and daughter plan to come to the picnic. I must say for seemingly the thousandth time, I really wish I could be there.

risalea said...

I wish you could be there, too.

risalea said...

It's hard to believe it's been a whole week today since Amanda passed on. I'm posting under here, so as not to be a downer under Chris's other blogs. It just is so hard and yet, what I feel is but a teeny fraction of the grief her mom and other family members must be feeling. I'm glad I'm working all this week, and have the picnic preparations to keep me busy. And it's really a blessing that Tammy is coming. Somehow, I think it will help with the grieving/healing process.

julie said...

As mostly a lurker here I didn't interact with Amanda, but her posts filled me with admiration. There are people three times her age who don't face illness and death with a fraction of her courage and good humor. It's wonderful that she found friends in all of you here- my heart and prayers go out to all who knew and loved her. May she rest in peace, free of pain at home with God.