Friend Corinn passed in a car wreck. | Courtesy Sofia Krusmark

You don’t rec­ognize the impact a person has until they’re taken away from you.

At 5:30 a.m on Wednesday, Feb. 13, my lifelong friend, Corinn, was in a car wreck. Four days later, her family dis­con­nected her from life support.

When I was told the news by a close family friend, the mem­ories of our childhood together flooded my entire being. We shoved each other down the torn slip-and-slide on the dead grass in my backyard. We cel­e­brated our ago­nizing hours of ner­vousness after our piano recitals with glo­rious Fud­drucker burgers and average shakes. And when dis­tance tore us apart, our pre­cious moments together meant staying up all night talking about how life was hard but how God was good. These mem­ories crashed into my heart in an instant.

But they only resur­faced because Corinn was leaving me.

It’s easy to live in this kind of comfort when we are still sur­rounded by the people we love the most. We expe­rience moments with them — the sweetest ones. We laugh with these people, but we cry with them too. We learn from these people — how to be kind, how to love hard, how to per­severe — but then we don’t tell them.

It seems almost cyclical some­times. We live for the next moment, for the mem­ories that we hope to make later. These expe­ri­ences are pro­found, and whether we realize it or not, they impact the person we become. And yet, we don’t rem­i­nisce on these things when life is good. These memory-makers live alongside us and we blindly walk alongside them toward the “next best thing.” We keep going, “living in the moment,” or so we’d like to think.

Time passes, but we forget that people do too. It is in this moment that we look to our right and left, and finally rem­i­nisce on the past mem­ories we expe­ri­enced that we imme­di­ately brushed off right after the memory was over. Thank God that these mem­ories are buried in our minds, some­where.

When I drove to the hos­pital to see my family friends and say goodbye to Corinn, I resolved to cherish the moment in the moment itself.

No one is ever pre­pared for a hos­pital waiting room — probably because we never plan to be there. Walking in, Isaac and Josh, Corinn’s brothers, stood up and hugged me hard. Music was playing softly, little kids were laughing and crawling on the ground, unaware of the reason they were there.

I walked down the hallway a little more, to another waiting room over­flowing with more family and friends. Joy drenched every person in that room. I had walked into a miracle.

I rel­ished the moment when I sang with her younger sister, AJ, as she plucked the ukulele strings to Corinn’s favorite song. Tears stung my eyes as we all sang “Happy Birthday” to her younger brother —grieving people joy­ously lifted their voices to cel­e­brate a new year of life of the brother who only wished to cel­e­brate the restoration of Corinn’s brain. My heart dropped in shock as her oldest sister responded to my “How are you?” with a joyous, “I have the peace that sur­passes all under­standing!” And when I was wrapped in her mother’s embrace, I forsook any com­forting words as she whis­pered, “Habibi, above all else, pray that God would be glo­rified in this.”

And there were moments when I laughed hard. Trying on pig noses that came in one of the many care packages, Hammie, Corinn’s eight year old brother and I giggled as we woke the room with a stifled “oink, oink.”

Then it was time to say goodbye, or “see you soon,” as I’d rather say.

Taking my hand, Hammie led me into Corinn’s room and clutched me tight, as if my grief was greater than his. The steady beeping sounds, the peculiar warmth that came from the other people clouding the room, the sight of Corinn, the impact of the crash inscribed on her entire being. The mem­ories of our friendship hit me all the more.

With her blis­tered, cal­loused hands lying motionless on the bed, Hammie whis­pered to me, “You can touch them, Sofia. Don’t worry. They don’t hurt.”

I rubbed my hand quickly against hers, utterly lifeless but only a mere shell of my friend’s beau­tiful soul. As we walked out of the room, Hammie patted my back and smiled.

“Sofia, just imagine how much better her skin is in heaven. It’s 30 times better than this,” he said.

Hammie lived in this moment with me. Instead of refusing to walk into the dreaded room, he embraced the moment with boldness and invited me to share in the pre­cious oppor­tunity to touch Corinn for one last time. In the very act of touching his dying sister’s hands, he rem­i­nisced on who she was, her vibrant self, but also looked ahead to her future restoration.

We often fail to rem­i­nisce on our mem­ories and savor our friends when we are actually with them. Mem­ories are meant to be shared — and not just at the memorial service of our loved one. It is a beau­tiful thing to look back fondly on the mem­ories when you are still with the person you live each day with. Because when we do this, those people live cher­ished. Our ongoing grate­fulness paints a vibrant picture of active love; we soak people in it.

Our lives sud­denly become an ongoing cel­e­bration of the “thens” with the “nows” of the present, as we press onward toward the “next.” The mem­ories walk with us, instead of being left behind for us to run back and grasp later when it seems all too late.

So here’s to Corinn — a sister who chose to be a tapestry mag­nif­i­cently woven by Christ. A friend who screamed with excitement when you shared your life’s joys and buried her head in her hands when the boy you had a crush on hurt you. A songbird who lifted her voice with the sole purpose of lifting up others. An ambi­tious leader, who sur­ren­dered her whole life to Christ living with nothing to lose, nothing to prove, and nothing to gain.

Here’s to you, Corinn, for living for this day — and that day — the day that has arrived so sud­denly, but the day when you’ve bolted running into our Abba’s arms.

I just wish I told you these things before you were gone.