Editor’s Note: this post is a delayed reflection on a departed friend, serious but hopefully not somber nor reflecting the anger I feel at her early loss at just age 50. Please wait for another day’s post if my reflections on our mortality aren’t your cup of tea. Thanks.
So … I take no pride in saying my first long-crafted essay on our friend Beth was lost when my laptop’s hard drive got corrupted. And I’d just polished it to where it shoulda-oughta-have been. But as my wise friend Arkansawyer would say, “Sir, that’s the problem.” Yes, I knew/know/will know where the story should go, but life doesn’t work that way, does it now?
Beth was a kind person beyond measure, taken from us far too soon. Yet, I was only one of many who knew her and wasn’t even in her nearest orbit. That’s why her leadership in our ‘community group’ made her contribution to my life that much more amazing. I won’t tread where I ought not, railing in anger: “Why, God, did You choose her to go so soon? We weren’t ready yet.” So many other feelings loom on the clouded horizon, but as I see from the books of Matthew and Daniel, the answers will come only with faith in He who brings us that truth. Yeah, that’s deep but so is our collective spirituality and dealing with our inevitable own journeys into the here-after.
Diagnosed with stage 4 skin cancer, she immediately knew the odds weren’t in her favor. No matter, no bother, no complaints (to us!), no sorrow. She took a year-long journey on the spiritual high road her near and extended families paved with love. So much goodness in that last interlude before she left us. I remember her now as I saw her then, at her best when picking on us to think, to ask questions, and at the end simply asking us to help her smile. Her spirit shone on, even the week prior to the end, when I visited and saw not pain/pity me, but just Beth as I’d known her.
The ache her man, and her children, feel is far more keen because it reflects how she sparkled her family’s way through a tough world. Ted also has taken that bite of the same faith and come out comforted and strengthened, a real lighthouse for us all.
So, here I finish, not far from where I started: we had a friend and we still have a friend. Some of you are Beth & Ted’s friends, so walk across those stones of tears, and of need, and let’s help the light-keeper and his family remember the best of the past as they journey on.
Or, as Arkansawyer would say, “Yep, something like that. You only can do what you can do.” OK then, let’s get on with it. And, thank you, Beth …