Please Play This Song at My Funeral

I’m no scientist or doctor, but when you’re doing pretty much anything in life, I think it’s important to breathe.

In high school, my friend Holly and I cheered together. I’ll never forget the day she moved from flier (the one on top of the pyramid) to base (the one holding the flier in the air). She is a tiny person — her heart is the only big thing about her — so the day she decided to be the muscles of the group shocked us all. I remember helping her, coaching her through the process. Bend at the knees, don’t arch your back. 

After every dismount Holly would let out the biggest gush of air from her mouth. Guuuuuuhhh. I couldn’t figure out how  such a loud noise could come from such a small person.

Then came time to add the cheers to the stunts. Yelling for our football team and throwing human bodies into the air — at the same time.

No words came from Holly’s mouth. Her grand exhales came after holding her breath for the entire stunt sequence. Ready, one, two, inhale… no exhale. No breath until the stunt ended and her flier landed safely on the floor.

“Don’t forget to breathe, Holly!” our coach would remind her during practice. “You have to keep breathing!”

Today, I need someone reminding me of the same thing.

A couple weekends ago, two of my best friends became one in marriage — and I couldn’t be happier. On the drive home from Austin, I spent time reflecting, praying, and thanking God for the people in my life.

Then Gungor’s This Is Not The End came on my car stereo. At the words, “This is not our last, this is not our last breath,” the tears began streaming down my cheeks.

Why that song? Why those words? I had heard them a dozen times before. What was it about the reassurance of breath — a job I typically leave up to my lungs and brain to work out — that broke me?

2013 has been one tough year. In desperation, I had gasped for air, taking in all my lungs could hold. I became lightheaded and dizzy, and lost sight of all truth. Instead, I started believing lies of inadequacy and disappointment. I have been holding my breath for jobs, for relationships, for provision, for heartaches, for health, for the way it should be 

Stale air continued to cycle and recycle. I couldn’t exhale because what if those last breaths were all I had.

Eventually, my face turned purple and I could not even see the life right in front of me.

I never let that last breath go to invite the fresh breath in.

There on Highway 290, I sat puffy-eyed and splotchy while this song reminded me of something I had forgotten along the way: there is another breath after this one. There is always one more breath.

Even in death there is never a last breath; life continues in the heavenly realm. Life started when Adam first drew in the breath of God, the inhale, and it continued when he exhaled the kingdom breath out into the garden.

There will be another inhale, but we have to let go of the breath we’re holding onto first.

There is always one more breath. 


This is not the end, this is not the end of this. We will open our eyes wide, wider.

This is not our last, this is not our breath. We will open our mouths wide, wider.

This is not the end, this is not the end of us. We will shine like the stars: bright, brighter.


  1. Ms Patti · July 25, 2013

    Beautiful Carrie! I love you and miss you! Praying! Xo

  2. Patti Paschall · July 25, 2013

    Hi sweetie! How’s Houston? Xoxo

    Sent from my iPad

  3. hollandocox · July 25, 2013

    i love your opening line (and the rest of it :))

  4. emily m · July 25, 2013

    Lovely my dear. Thank you for this post. I think I have also been holding my breath- almost too scared to breath. Miss you around this place.

  5. ashley higgins · July 25, 2013

    breath is coming.
    happy to remind of you of this truth any time.
    love you deep.

    • carriehokanson · July 25, 2013

      I appreciate that you never tire of reminding me. over and over. xoxo

  6. Kathy Hindes · July 25, 2013

    Great blog Carrie!! Keep breathing, there is so much MORE to come!! Love and miss you!!!

  7. julielortz · July 25, 2013

    oh. i love your heart and spirit. perfect encounter with God. this is not the end. you will make it through this. this too will pass and on the other side you will see the beauty. may you find some of that goodness even now…even when things don’t make sense. love you, love you. wish i had seen you this year!!! arms around you.

  8. The Buck · July 26, 2013

    Good word my friend, good word:) You are not walking alone in this season either, thanks for reminding me to do the same in this time. Miss you and praying for you.

  9. throughthelynds · August 26, 2013

    nice one, carrie. nice one.

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