A decade ago, I was honored to know a woman who taught me about both living and dying. You see, Kathy received a grave diagnosis, with an even graver prognosis. She taught our children’s Sunday school with her head wrapped in a turban, and she shared great love and honesty with the preschool kids. She lived well between the chemo days, and even better when the chemo ended. One Sunday, I stopped her between the front pew and the altar and asked her in a serious church lady voice, how things were.
Her response changed the way I thought about my life. She said, “Deb, I’m living. And I’m going to live every day of my life until I die. That may be from the cancer or something else… But for today, I’m living.” And she lived well. She laughed with her grandchildren, who became her life’s work. She loved her husband with care and tenderness. She showed up ready to share in my women’s Bible study week after week. Kathy poured out grace and an honest faith that wasn’t afraid of the hard stuff.
One Sunday morning after church, she asked me if I had time to get together during the week. We sat in the sunshine on the cement stairs that led out of the nursery on the side of the church. We talked for hours. She told me about her life, the parts people usually don’t share. I told her about mine. We talked about our regrets, our failures, and our fears. We shared the ways that grace and love had rebuilt our hearts. We shared our hopes for the future. I was shocked when just a week or so later, she was gone.
She was in church on Sunday, but then the next week she wasn’t. She lived all of her days, right up until the end. We celebrated her life and grieved the hole she left in our lives.
I’ve thought of her commitment to life many times over the years, but this week I’ve been challenged by it again. As our lives have been rocked by a diagnosis, I have found myself paralyzed by fear, consumed with worry, and withdrawn from life. It is my nature to flee from trouble. The road ahead looks dark and stormy, and I am afraid for the one my heart loves. I am powerless… and I hate that.
I have sought solace in the shelter of my faith, I’ve been reminded that we do not walk this path alone. Sometimes, that brings great hope, other times a fresh wave of fear. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know the One who holds our future. Mine is not an easy faith, which claims easy assurance of outcomes. I cling to a God who is good, but not always safe. I will lean on His goodness, even when the road is treacherous.
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
When the turmoil in my heart settles, even for an instant, I am grateful. Who gets to have this life? I am loved by such a good man. We have fought hard to find the faith, hope, and love we share. We have an amazing family, our kids are interesting, loving, and kind. We are surrounded by family and friends who fill our lives with such goodness. Our ordinary, everyday life is more than enough (more than is reasonable) on any given Tuesday. I am blessed, truly blessed.
This week, I’m committed to living in this sweet life. I am leaning into the little joys. I am recognizing the miraculous ordinary life that I’ve been given, and I am thankful. So, I am feeling the clean cotton of our sheets as I make the bed. I am breathing the warm scent of clean laundry as I fold socks and white t-shirts with care. I am delighting in the details of a wedding. I am savoring a homemade lemon tart with the man I love. I don’t want to miss this. It’s the good stuff.
Just for today, I’m going to live (and love) my life.