Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Our hellos and good-byes--Carolyn R. Wilker




 
Tuesday evening, as I wrote, a good-bye lay raw and heavy in my heart. Another good-bye in a string of weeks, and this one for a friend who has died. As family and friends come to terms with this new loss is an underlying knowledge of where she goes from this life.
Kathy will no longer wear the mantle of illness, nor endure more treatments that gave her extra time, or even to make do with what little energy remained. But she will wear a new covering of light and be reunited with her young grandson Leif who predeceased her months before.
My friend was a welcoming kind of person, the kind who found you new to a place and invited you in, that no one be left standing out in the cold of indifference. I know, for I have been the recipient of that caring on more than one occasion. I was grateful and always remember those times. I hope that I have reciprocated as generously as what she offered to me, and spread that kind of caring around to others. She was the rock-solid kind of friend that everyone needs—a forever friend—one who didn’t want to stand out in the crowd or desire to be the centre of others’ attention.
Kathy knew that I had been writing and that my work was being published. One day when I arrived at her home for Bible Study some years ago, she had carefully ripped out the submission page from her devotional booklet and encouraged me to write for the Upper Room. I kept that piece of paper awhile and I wrote and submitted—my first international credit. Guess who gets the credit for the initial inspiration? Both God and Kathy, but she would deny her part in it, except for the suggestion.
Jesus promised he’d be with us to the end of the age, that he understood our tears, our physical anxiety, and that through all the valley of troubles, he’d be with us and save a place for us when we’re too tired and empty, in a place where there is no more pain. He offered consoling words to his disciples, before they even realized the kind of death he’d face. Was his heart heavy too at leaving them behind?
This morning upon early awakening, I thought of how it might have been for my friend in the last months and perhaps longer, about facing her goodbyes. Like someone who was going on a journey and knew she wasn’t coming back to this place. She would know that she would see them later in another place, but would that ease the pain of saying her goodbyes? Might she have felt wistful at leaving them behind? And hope that her adult children would guide those small children well. Hesitant, too, to leave her loving husband?  Perhaps for those reasons, might she have hesitated to take that step, even knowing that it was God’s hand leading her, when the moment came?
Jesus’ words bring comfort even in the pain of loss: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if it were not so would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:2).” And then he promises to come back for us. He’s come for Kathy.
 I may not be ready to receive those words, but I am grateful to have had Kathy in my life. She celebrated when there was goodness in life and she prayed for others, knowing that God was the right one to look to for help.
Rest in peace, my friend. You have earned it. We will miss you, but we know that our loving God is keeping you. Until we meet again.


Carolyn R. Wilker, writer, editor, storyteller from Ontario. See Carolyn at Write Canada in June 2015, member of faculty and co-leader of Creative Nonfiction Intensive.
www.carolynwilker.ca

5 comments:

Belinda Burston said...

My condolences Cari. You have lost some good friends and it is painful. God bless and comfort you.

Peter Black said...

Thank you Carolyn, for sharing this lovely tribute - heartwarming and heart-felt, up-front and personal and respectful.
May you, as well as Kathy's family, receive comfort in the blessed assurance that comes from knowing and trusting Father God and the Son He gave, and to whom Kathy has gone. ~~+~~

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Thank you for your kind words, Peter. I learned last evening at the visitation that Kathy had read my last note to her. Her daughter Jessie said that the envelope had been opened. That meant her Mom had read it.
Today is the funeral, and as hard as this has all been to take in, the little and big stories that come out of it help us all.

fudge4ever said...

What would we do without friends like this?
Nicely written.
Pam Mytroen

Glynis said...

Such a beautiful testimony to a life well lived and a friendship well loved. So sorry that you lost a beautiful friend but like you say, there will be a heavenly reunion.
Blessings for strength.

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