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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
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.
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