This morning they called to tell me my youngest grandchild Bailee had died. She was only 25 years old. She came into the world with a genetic flaw that hampered her mentally and physically. You might have thought her birth a tragedy, but you’d have been wrong.
Three weeks ago she stood on my front porch, caroling with her family and friends. She used sign language as she sang about “the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.” It was a highlight of the Christmas season for me.
Bailee had a zest for life. Her mother made it so Bailee enjoyed many varied and exciting experiences most children take for granted. They would have been impossible except for her parents’ constant vigilance and loving care.
Bailee loved making bead necklaces, and she wore them—all of them at one time. She tirelessly made bracelets, and missionaries all over the world have given them to children to enjoy.
She wanted to be a nurse, so she found ways to do little things for people in need. Just before Christmas, walking into Walmart with a friend, she saw a bell ringer, and on her own initiative took out money to give him.
Her feet didn’t always work well, so you’d think she’d have trouble learning to dance. But she had the thrill of attending a prom for her and her friends hosted by Tim Tebow. And in spite of those troublesome feet she played baseball with the Mauldin SC Miracle League.
Her parents knew Bailee would never be able to live alone, but they didn’t need to worry about her future. I can remember hearing her brother Sky and sister Cassie argue about who could take care of her best. Yes, she was often sad or depressed, frustrated or angry. Life certainly wasn’t easy for her, and it was even more difficult for her parents. Her mother once checked Bailee’s phone and saw that Bailee had deleted MOM from her phone. Completely. It was her reaction to Gwen’s text to behave or she’d lose her phone privileges, and Bailee wasn’t having that! So she just deleted MOM.
But Bailee’s parents early on introduced her to Jesus, the One who loves little children, especially children with special needs. Jesus said explicitly, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these“ (Mark 10:14 nlt). That’s a concept Bailee could understand. So she grew up loving that truth: Jesus was her friend, her loving and powerful Friend who was committed to taking care of her. She often talked about her conversations with Him.
Last night her Daddy heard her say, “I want to see Jesus.” This morning her prayer was answered. You see, she’d finished her assignment. She’d accomplished what God had created her to do. He’d made Bailee in His very own image. He gave her exactly the qualities He wanted her to have in order to do His job for Him here on earth. Last night, she’d completed on earth what God sent her to do, so He took her home. Now she enjoys sweet fellowship with her loved ones who’ve gone before her to Heaven. Now she stand at the throne of God, sharing His glory, perfect in body and heart.
Rest safely in the arms of Jesus, precious Bailee.
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford