Letters To Sydney: One Brave Chick

Sydney Boone Gaylord

April 13, 1976 – August 29, 2011

January 2, 2009
Dear Syd,
I am sending you some songs and pictures that God has given me on my journey to remind me of His tender presence in the midst of such trial, suffering, and ‘seeming’ absenteeism. Sometimes the only place He can be found for me is in my iPod or my garden.

Too, I know I have tried to communicate this in such a floundering, helpless manner, but my heart is with you both in this prolonged season of testing. Coupled with the fact that I am a deep feeler by design and I have found such a deep, restful comfort in being your friend.

I am constantly amazed by how you can be so present and full of gentle anticipation and wonder with people. This has been such a gift to me. I am someone who has deep seeded fears of being known and being still with others. But, you have this God-given ability to make people relax and almost treasure the thing that brings them the most fear. This truly has been one of your gifts to a lost and hurting world.

Yesterday I went out by myself to try to get anchored and rooted after the shock of your diagnosis. In a parking lot, I wept deep tears for you and Todd before God. The Lord dealt with me gently and kindly said, “Carrie, you cannot take this away for Sydney and Todd. And you cannot take care of her. But I can. I am going to take care of Sydney. I promise. Your job is to love her, but not to carry her.”

So, I just wanted to let you know that I am trying to fight this overwhelming urge to ‘carrie’ you.:) Instead, I am going to offer you up to the One who can. I thank you for being in my life and giving me yet another opportunity to trust God and believe in His goodness.

I am reminded of when I spoke at my grandmother’s memorial service and looked up to see you and Todd in the balcony. I was so moved by you both being there, supporting me in my deep loss and sadness. Now I will look up again to the One who will do the same for us all. I will look up to the One who will carry and comfort us through this season.

I love you Syd. love to Todd, and the little cuties:)

soon and very soon,

September 1, 2011

Dear Sydney,

I have been reading the letter I wrote to you years ago because in a few hours, we will celebrate your life and lay your sweet body into the ground to rest and wait. I admit that the reason for my deep fear and what prompted me to write you that letter in the first place was because I was terrified of this day.

When Holly called to share with me your diagnosis, I had to sit down right in the middle of Barnes and Nobles. I was overwhelmed. I was afraid then and there that you were going to die. I was scared for Todd, the kids, and all of the rest of us who could not imagine life without you as part of our skyline.

I realize now, completely exhausted from all my tears shed over the past week, that racing to the end of the story that day was very short-sighted. Sitting there in the fiction section, I could not see all that God was going to speak with your life. He had used you so well in health, why would I think that would change in your sickness?

On that dreary December Day, I could not see that you would have almost a year and a half of feeling better than you ever had in the previous 33 years leading up to your diagnosis. I did not know that you would begin to wake up early, exercise, and LOVE it.

I could not see that you would go on to run half marathons(*read talk during half marathons), ride a bike across the state of Virginia, take spin classes, love Nascar, discover bird watching, keep painting, love your family and friends deeper, and continue to leave your fingerprints on many lives, especially those who were hurt and suffering.

I know it was hard for you to be sick and in so much pain. I am not trying to minimize the hellish nature of  a brain tumor and living with the fear that you may not get to age with Todd or watch your children grow up.

But, you did it Sydney. You ran the race with such tenacity and perseverance, and I am so proud of you. You dear, special, beautiful woman.

Remember in February when Todd asked me to come over with Lisa and Kelly to have dinner with you? You were in your wheel chair and we just chatted. You asked me how I was doing and what was new in my life. I told you that I was speaking at a large Womens conference April first. You began counting out loud and landed on seven.

“Sydney,” I said. “Seven what?”

“Seven weeks, Carrie. You speak in seven weeks. I’ll be walking by then.” you said.

I smiled and hoped for you.

And the night after that conference, you walked all by yourself into the restaurant for my birthday dinner.

So tenacious. So brave. So Sydney.

Sweet Syd,

These are the verses I’ve prayed for you since you got sick. Look at them now. I came across them in my fear one day and prayed them with a heart that pleaded to God that you would get well. I begged Him to heal you.

With these verses back in December, we cried out that He would give you back to us. And He did. You got better and for 7 months, you got to love all of those who loved you with a fullness that few can understand.

Now I see that His plan all along was to heal you.

So today we will shout for joy at your victory.

And we’ll shed tears because you are gone and will be missed terribly.

Love to you,

Carrie Luke

7 thoughts on “Letters To Sydney: One Brave Chick

  1. Carrie,
    Thank you for honoring Sydney’s full and beautiful life with your words. It really ministered to my soul to read your post. There was no one like her. She loved others boldly and exactly how they needed to be loved. Oh, how I will miss her.

  2. Carrie,
    I haven’t ever met you and it’s been a long time since I had seen Sydney but I feel like I know you after reading this! This is one of the most touching and insightful letters I have ever read. God has given you (and Todd!) such a gift of putting things into words that the rest of us can only stutter through. The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking “Exactly!”
    I wish I could have seen Sydney some over these past few years, but by this letter I feel like I was there in some way. Thank you for sharing these verses and reminding us of our ultimate goal in this life. I have been swamped with feelings of anger and unfairness these past few days for Todd and their children, but I am so glad to know they have friends like you nearby to love them, as the rest of us are praying on.
    Thank you again,
    Julie Henry
    Shreveport, LA

  3. Carrie,
    I feel as if I’m eavesdropping on a very special conversation between you and Sydney.. Thank you for sharing your heart-felt thoughts so that we who did not know Sydney can share her homegoing with you.

  4. Carrie,
    So sorry for your loss. I know Sydney was a special person in your life. My heart is with you and her family. Thank you for helping us see how beautiful of a person she was. I wish I had the chance to know her….you were truly blessed with a wonderful friend. I know she will be missed.
    All my love,
    Merri Martin

  5. I just googled Sydney’s name as I recall hearing from friends about this amazing women who with small children that was ill with brain cancer. I wanted to know of her specialness, and I came across your blog. Your love letters to your dear friend, so poignant and filled with His spirit moved me so deeply. You see, I have a dear friend that is also battling terminal cancer and I struggle mightily with how best to be there for her. Your wise and humble words brought me to tears and brought to focus that this plan is known to Him alone. So to HimI shall lift her up, thank you. May God’s tender mercy cover Sydney’s family and may they draw comfort knowing she is Home. Safe.

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