Some moments in time are just moments. Others make a lasting impact. And then, there are those moments in time that last forever.
Real, true, undeniable beauty, overflowing from the heart. A shining jewel, a piercing, yet gentle bright light, touching without touch. Making life better. Brightening a day here, lifting the fog of sadness there, bringing clarity to confusion, solutions to questions, and resolutions to problems. All in a day’s work. And all with a smile and graciousness and love for everyone.
Mary made a forever impression. Far reaching, ongoing.
It was and will always be a very special gift from God that I was allowed to experience all she was to so many. I thank God that His plan included more than 15 years when our paths would cross and I was given the privilege to know her and love her.
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you”. Phil 1:3
We worked together, and I read this at her funeral. Yes, she truly was that special.
So who was Mary?
She was beautiful. Deeply, all the way, inwardly, outwardly, everywhere, beautiful. On the outside, she always had that “put together” look. The hair, the makeup, the clothes coordinated with colorful, sparkling jewelry. She loved her bling! 🙂 And oh, how she sparkled from the inside too. Inward beauty overflowed in a glittering, glowing cascade of soft light. She focused perpetually on others and how she could brighten their darkness and fulfill their needs. She invited a different perception and outlook with her genuine smile. That smile was always in place, regardless of her feelings or struggles or anything else. Nothing got in the way of that smile, because it was the expression that aligned with her heart. She truly loved and cared for everyone, and her love was reciprocated by so many because it was the response that came naturally with no thought or decision.
A few years ago, there was a time of deep connection for us. It was a God ordained season of a special level of closeness during a difficult time for her. For a season, I was chosen to encourage her and just listen. I am grateful that I was allowed to be used by God in this special way. What a timeless gift that I will always cherish.
We worked in different areas and our paths did not cross every day. But when we saw each other I got to experience that treasured smile and her sweet spirit that reached out to me simply by an exchanged greeting in passing.
I did not even know she was having pain and health issues. I was plodding along in my day in day out routine life, and she was hurting and struggling. I saw her, yet I didn’t see. One day, I came to work and learned that she was in the hospital after a diagnosis that there was nothing more that could be done medically. She was dying. She had been off work for over a week and I just assumed she was out on vacation. When I heard this sad news that she was not expected to live and the family had asked some of her special coworkers to join them at her bedside, I felt my world just crumble. No, more like explode. Violently. Immediately. Pieces of my world everywhere. Chaos. Confusion. Questions. So many questions. But no time for that. Even reeling from shock and trying to wrap my mind around the devastating truth, I knew I needed to go to her. For once I did not question what my heart was shouting to me. I did not stop to analyze why I felt this so strongly. I did not, miracle of miracles, second guess myself. I did not wonder about whether or not this inexplicably intense desire was from shock, or selfishness, or anything other than God. I just knew with a knowing deeper than anything I had ever experienced. I felt so strongly about this that I did not even ask my boss if I could go. I told him. I just said I was going because I had to. Praise God for a fabulous boss who completely understood and just nodded.
So seven of us headed to the hospital. Her family welcomed us and called us her second family. And we were. Strangely, it was not awkward at all to be there with her family at such an intensely personal time. I had the honor and the privilege of going to her bedside and sharing my heart with her. She could not respond. But I have an assurance that is not of this world that she listened to my words and graciously accepted them. It was an incredibly sad, yet equally special time that I was allowed to be a part of.
She moved right into the arms of Jesus while we were there. Joyfully and immediately united with Him in an unfathomable loving embrace. So hard for those left behind, but an undeniable hope to cling to in the midst of tears of sadness and loss.
I hate the fact that I did not continue to nurture the special connection that we shared. That I was usually too busy to say more than “Hello” in passing to her, too busy to ask her how she was doing. Too busy to stop and get myself out of my “work mode” mentality and realize that relationships are so much more important. And just a minute or two every once in a while would not have made any difference at all to my work load, but it would have made all the difference to me on a personal level if I could have been there for her and prayed for her and encouraged her. After all, she had battled that ugly “C word”, Cancer. Yes, she was victorious, but this disease is well known to regroup and come back for another attack in a wide variety of ways. I knew this. But I just said hello and we smiled and waved at each other and it never entered my mind that anything was different. But everything was different.
Now I believe that for some reason it was simply not meant to be that I would share in her struggle this time around, this ultimate struggle that took her life. Hard for me but I trust God and know that for some reason this was not a part of His plan for me or for her.
My God who supplies all my needs knew I would struggle with this, so He gave me a great gift that I will treasure close to my heart forever. I was told by more than one person that she shared my knowledge of the special bond we had. It was still there, strong and sure, even though we had not connected like that in some time. It is a great comfort to me to know that I was not the only one who felt it, and I believe she knew, as I do, that it was a unique way that God allowed us to walk a path together and touch those deep places…experience Him together in a way that is unexplainable.
My life has been forever changed. Forever. Changed. I have realized with wonder and amazement that I was included in the select group God chose. I was part of those who have the privilege to know and love someone who had such an impact on others. I am honored that God allowed me to know and love her.
Now, I have an acute and heightened awareness of how important it is to nurture relationships. Take that extra moment now and again to remind others that they make your life better and brighter just by being themselves. Not just the people you know well and do life with, but everyone who has a positive impact upon your life. Tell them. Offer encouragement when you think it’s needed. Smile at them when you don’t feel like smiling. They may need that smile. I know I will always cherish hers, especially because I now know that for a time when she would smile at me, she was in great pain and trying not to show it.
I bought a bracelet a while back that I wear in her memory. It has a heart with the breast cancer awareness ribbon all in rhinestones – some sparkly bling for her. I wanted something tangible to remind myself of the things she taught me in our fifteen years of sweet relationship.
Smile. Positively impact as many people as possible, every day. Be compassionate and caring, always. Love others, even those who seem unlovable. Do all you can as soon as you can to uplift others. Brighten their shadows. Lift their spirits. Make it so that when others encounter you they are better for it. Be the embodiment of the love of Jesus to everyone you see.
We are not guaranteed tomorrow.
…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. James 4:14
But I do look forward to the tomorrow in Heaven when I see her. I imagine this scenario in a variety of ways, all beautiful, all wonderful, all good. She’ll be easy to find. All I’ll have to do is look for the bling.