“I’m not ready,” I say to Missy. “We’re supposed to go visit her tomorrow.” Missy, blankly staring straight ahead, just gently nods her head. We sit silent for 10 minutes or so and then begin our two-hour drive home.
We’re leaving the celebration of a friend’s wedding when I receive the message that our dear friend, Beth, has lost her battle with cancer – an almost three-year battle which she fought bravely, strongly, and truly heroically. We slowly and silently begin our drive, wrestling with the conflicting emotions of joy for our friend who just got married and sadness for us and the world with the absence of Beth.
Shortly into our drive, the sky turns dark. As the rain suddenly begins to pour down, it seems fitting that the Heavens cry with us. They allow us to weep, and together the three of us – me, Missy, and the Universe around – let the tears fall; sitting in that hollow place, unable to deny the void we feel. Then, almost as quickly as the rain began, the skies clear and the sky brightens. It was in that moment that the words appear in my mind’s eye – “God has given us another angel.”
The word “angel” almost sounds too cliché for Beth. She is more of a heavenly warrior. She walked with the gentlest of strength and more grace than I’d ever witnessed. She embodied compassion, love, and true, genuine kindness. As do her husband, and our friend, Jim, and their two children – Jud and Devon. A more unified family you’d be hard pressed to find. The amount of love and wholeness felt in their home is beyond measure.
Beth and Jim were the perfect hosts for game nights, which despite the number of games available, would inevitably turn into a marathon match of Chicken Scratch (a domino game). You could tell everyone felt at home there and that they loved having us. I’m so thankful to have those nights tucked away in my head and heart.
For this shy, new soccer player, Beth energetically embraced me, forever encouraging me to play, acknowledging my efforts, and complimenting me on any little thing I did well during a game. As my friend and teammate Marylou says, it was such a treat to look across the field and see Beth helping to defend our goal.
Although missing her terribly, and still a bit stunned, I’m so incredibly thankful that I had the opportunity to know Beth. While I feel the void of her absence, I also take relief in knowing that the separation is temporary, and I look forward to kicking around a soccer ball with her when we meet again.