My friend would have turned 51 this year. As I read this again I am reminded of the legacy she has left in her children and the empty place at every family dinner. Heavenly reunions will be all the sweeter for them someday.
I was standing outside the house, gardening the day she drove up and told me she had been to the doctor. The cancer had come back she said. It was so matter-of-fact that I wasn’t sure I heard her correctly but in the days to come she, her family and friends began to process the news.
Her story has been nothing short of a miracle really. Before we had even met she had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and given two years to live. I remember her telling me how she began at that time to pull away from her friends, from her family...preparing to say goodbye. And then, with only the intervention of God, she was healed. She went on to have twins and when they were about a year old we met. Our boys were nursery buddies.
It wasn’t long until we were welcomed into the fold. You didn’t stay a stranger long in her circles. Hers was a house you walked right into - the door was always open. No need to knock - just pull up a chair, pour a coffee and join the conversation. She share her home, her life and her faith. Often she would tell me about someone here or there she had met, shared her story with and led to the Lord. Oh, yes, and they would be coming over shortly if I wanted to meet them.
The year the cancer came back the two of us were home schooling our children and spent time almost every day together. It was that year she went through her first round of chemo. She was determined to stay strong, not let it affect her but even in the early days it was a struggle. Despite her weakness, with God she was strong. Bad news, cancer or otherwise was to be taken to God in prayer and WE were to keep on being obedient. During that time I watched her continue to touch those she encountered every day.
I remember one ladyspecifically from our small town who also had cancer. The two of them had their appointments on the same day in the city hospital. She recognized her in the waiting room and went over to talk. She shared her story and gave hope to one who sitting quietly in a hospital needed something greater to live for. Cancer was not as strong as faith on that day. It wasn’t just because she was a people person either - it was because she knew the power of a life saved. Saved from sin and saved from death.
She loved. Her friends and her family. If you were over in the afternoon she would always get the coffee ready so that when her husband came home it would be waiting for him. She was always looking for ways to honour him. She was a typical mama and fiercely proud and protective of her children. She prayed over them, worried over them, bragged about them - loved them. They each bear a part of her and will carry a legacy of faith throughout their lives.
She loved life. She fought and prayed to live as long as God would allow. She reminded me often we have not been promised a life without struggles and heartache but we are called for a greater purpose. It is not that grand purpose for which many ascribe; fame, or knowledge, or significance, but rather a life of obedience and service. In the seemingly mundane "daily-ness" of life you could catch glimpses of Heaven as bodies were healed and even more miraculous lives were restored. In was in those everyday events, with everyday people that she became the hands and feet of her Savior.
On her family, her friends, and even strangers, she left indelible fingerprints that have touched our hearts and made us so much the better to have known her.
She is finally in the place her heart has resided for so long. Today, she sees it all, not as a mere reflection in the mirror, but clearly revealed in the face of her Saviour. For her there is no more suffering but only joy as she saw Jesus, waiting at an open door to take her in His arms and welcome her home.