Growing up, I always looked up to my older cousin Charla. We have so many memories together at Grandpa and Grandma Thelander’s house. We played together like sisters – maybe better than sisters because we didn’t get to see each other every day! As we got older, we talked. And talked. And walked. Up and down Grandpa and Grandma’s quarter mile long driveway for hours and hours. I played the flute because Charla played the flute. I even managed to get married on her wedding anniversary! But I never imagined a day when her 15-year-old daughter would be killed in a car accident and I’d be attending her burial service. It was beautiful and so very sad! If I could bottle up all the prayers I’ve received over the past few months and just pour them out over Charla, I would do that. I KNOW the Lord is with her, grieving with her, feeling her pain and anguish, and I will be praying that somehow her broken heart might be mended. But right now, it’s going to take very gentle tending – moment by moment, day by day.

I didn’t get a chance to get to know Hope very well, as we’ve lived in separate states since she was born, but I do know she was an amazing person and beautiful ballet dancer as I got to watch Charla’s videos of her recitals on Facebook. Hope intended to pursue a career in ballet with the ultimate goal of performing professionally as a ballerina and opening a ballet school where she could teach underprivileged children the art of ballet. She had just recently started teaching her first student ballerina.

The family would like to honor her memory by setting up a fund or foundation called Dancing For Eternity to provide scholarships for underprivileged children to be able to afford ballet lessons. Donations may be made payable and sent to OKC Friends Church, 320 SE 62nd Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73149 with a memo “Dancing For Eternity.”

Huge thanks to my friend Stephanie for driving me to Salina today!! I’m so glad I was able to make the trip, as I continue to feel better each day.