When asked to write a post in support of A Life Well Loved: Remembering Aimee Buchanan, I muttered a colorful, not so articulate version of, “No thank you.” Not because I don’t love Aimee or fully support Asheville Youth Mission, but because I would prefer Aimee still be alive. Also, my mom was Director of Major Gifts for an international nonprofit, so her words are on repeat in my brain when it comes to supporting nonprofits. She often said, “Don’t ask for money in support of an organization. Tell why it matters. Tell the story.”
So this is my story.
In January 2012, Aimee and I worked together on a Presbyterian Church (USA) youth event, as was often the case for us. We returned to our Walt Disney World resort from a long, magical day of rehearsals and sound checks, just as the sun was beginning to set over the perfectly manicured courtyard. The evening was beautiful and Aimee glowed with a little sweat from our productive day and the setting sun in the background. During a lull in our to-do list conversation, I said, “I’m sorry I’m staring at you, but you have about the best skin of anyone I know in real life. I’ve always thought you have great skin, but didn’t want to be a creeper and tell you that’s why I stare at your face sometimes. But, I think we’re way past that point in our friendship.” She threw her head back and laughed her signature laugh.
Aimee’s beautiful skin was often glowing regardless of the backdrop. She radiated when she talked about her love for Bill, Elli, and Taylor. She shined when rehearsals went just perfectly before an event. She beamed while listening to stories from young people. She did her best to put others in their best light on the stage of life.
In January 2013, my mom was unexpectedly in multiple Intensive Care Units, and Aimee was one of the people I trusted to share the holy and the horrible details of that pivotal time in my family history. Aimee knew details from ICUs that were too sacred for Facebook or public consumption. On January 1st, I received this text message from Aimee:
“Taking down Christmas tree lights and thinking of you. The lights were all tangled in the branches even while they were still shining. It became a prayer all in the act. Wondering how I can pray for you specifically. Let me know if you want. Otherwise I will keep on it as I am. Love and peace, friend.”
I didn’t know on that first day of January that Aimee’s words would be so prophetic and describe much of 2013. I was able to thank her for allowing me to be authentic through my mom’s death when I hugged her neck on January 16th at Mom’s memorial service. I was able to gather with the tangible cloud of witnesses to thank God for the gift of Aimee’s life, and thank those who share her DNA for sharing her with the rest of us, on February 16th at her memorial service.
This has been a year full of moments when lights are all tangled in the branches, yet the lights are still shining. If you have ever experienced a time when the lights were tangled yet hope was still shining, then you’ve experienced the type of ministry offered through Bill and Aimee’s dream come true: Asheville Youth Mission. If you would like to be sure your neighbor, a stranger, or a young person hears that kind of message of hope, then download the music from A Life Well Loved. The album is as diverse as all of us are, because AYM takes seriously the call to faithfully love everybody.
And, whether or not you knew Aimee, I hope you have someone in your life to remind you of the light that no darkness in this world, not even death itself, can ever overcome. Enjoy the many gifted artists on the album, and may whatever you’re doing as you listen become a prayer all in the act. Love and peace, friends.