I had sat and pondered this weekend, between the graduation events and events I had to cover, preparations to complete and miscellaneous items to take care of; between the lessons taught, studying to finish and trying to keep the peace in some cases, I had several ideas of things to write about.
After all, it is not very often that a guest speaker at graduation quotes something from my column. Thanks to Dr. Brent Morris, a young man I got to watch grow up and prosper, for such a great speech (with or without quoting me.)
Or I could have took off on the latest controversy, this one dealing with the school budget issues. There is a lot of ground to cover there and eventually all the pieces will fall in place. I hope to be able to cover that when it does, could be interesting.
No, I didn’t write about those this week.
Instead, Monday evening around 9 p.m. I decided I was going to write about a friend of mine. A friend who had been struggling in a tough fight with cancer. A friend, former co-worker, who worried more about my health than her own. A friend who fought the good fight and as I told the adult Sunday School class at church this past week, she always would tell me that “God is good to me.” Sounds strange coming from one fighting a disease determined to beat her, but she was determined to beat it.
That was my plan. I had been advised last Friday that Hospice was called in to help my friend, Gwen. It was looking more and more like the disease was going to win. But I knew she would keep on fighting as long as she could.
You see, she had four children to fight for, a loving husband to battle for, and family and friends who love her that she wanted to fight for. You see, even though we have self-preservation in our DNA, Gwen wanted to help others even more.
Unbeknownst to me, late Monday evening she passed away. I found out as I came into my office at 5:30 Tuesday morning. My friend, Gwen, who made us laugh, helped us in any way we needed, who was a wonderful mother and wife, she went on to gain her heavenly reward.
I did not get a chance to see her this past weekend and on Monday I thought I’d go Tuesday after I got the paper done. But that chance never came. But I have no doubts I will see her again.
She would call me over the past six months or so and tell me that we need to have lunch. I’d always say we should and she would smile. But as she got sicker, she would call and say, maybe next week.
Three weeks ago we had a conversation about the benefit concert that was being held for her. She said then that she had been “getting worn down physically and mentally.”
“I just continue to pray, somedays more than others,” she said. “But God is good to me.”
Then she changed subjects, as she often did, told me she saw me somewhere and I looked tired. “You need to take care of yourself, your princess will need you,” she laughed, “besides where will we get our news if you go down.” We both laughed and she told me to tale care of myself.
Gwen could have complained, asked why, pitied herself, became angry – but she chose to walk with God and let Him guide. That had to be hard, but she was a living testament to me of what trusting God is all about.
I’m sure she didn’t want to leave her family, her friends, her babies behind. I’m sure she never wanted to go through any of this. But when dealt that hand, she played it with class, trusting the Lord.
Her family, her husband those wonderful kids, will need all the love, compassion and care this community can give them. If she ever touched your life, made you smile, talked your head off telling a wild story that made you wonder or laugh, if she has ever done anything for you, then we need to help her family.
Working with her and Sarah, I saw a sisterly bond between those two. I know Sarah was there about an hour before Gwen went on home. I know she is hurting too. So my heart aches for her, almost as much as it does for Gwen’s family.
We hurt and we grieve because we will miss her smile, her laugh and her whole being. But if we follow the same God, we can see her again some day. Until then, when I am sure she will want to tell me a great story about Heaven and what all I need to go see, I guess she’ll be telling the saints and Jesus himself some good tales. Jesus will have to laugh, she made us all happy, and I know, He will be happy to see her too.
With what is happening now, the school issues, personal problems and complaints are miniscule. At least we are here, we have family around us and we are loved. Gwen knew she was loved and now she waits for us over there.
Rest easy my friend. Save me a place under a tree near the River of Life where we can rest and reminisce, while we wait for others we love.
James and the kids, anything we can do, just let us know. We are here for you, because our friend Gwen was always here for us. Family, friends and neighbors help hold each other up. Because that is what we do and when it comes to helping a friend, we will do it even after they are gone. I will miss her, as will many of you. But let us strive to learn from her and meet her over there.
There is an old song I like and I hope Gwen knows it too. It says,
“Look for me, for I will be there too.
I realize when you’ve arrived, there be
so much to view.
After you’ve been there 10,000 years, a million,
Look for me for I will be
See ya’ soon my friend.
I’m just saying . . .