How do you write something you had convinced yourself you would never have to write?
How do you honor a friend, a friendship, a mother and wife, a giver of love and kindness – when you were sure SHE would be the miracle?
Friends – I wish I had the answer.
Just more than 100 days ago, after she had just been diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer on August 4th, I sat with my friend Carolyn in her home. With the teariest of eyes, she said, “Danielle….it’s bad. I just want to make it to Christmas.”
A vibrant mother in her early 40’s. A mother with so much love to give, so much life to live, so much heart to share. SURELY, she would beat ALL of the odds.
The tributes I have read describe this woman so perfectly – she taught her kids the words to Gangsta’s Paradise, was ready with a smile, a hug or a big dose of reality if she thought you needed it. She had a servant’s heart and was always the first to volunteer for YOUR heartbreak.
It doesn’t seem real. And yet, here we are. Stuck in a reality we didn’t want. Stuck in an upside down that doesn’t include this person we adore.
But…damn…she was (is) loved.
I’ve never seen anything like it.
On Tuesday night at her Visitation, the wait to honor her and love on her family topped 90 minutes and stayed there for hours. And Wednesday’s service was celebrated in front of a truly packed church. She was honored by her extraordinary husband, her loving sisters and one of her four brothers – the priest who said the service. Through cracked hearts and voices, with a smile that belied Carolyn’s love of life, her family, her God and her community – each sentence shared a layer of the beauty that was deeply embedded in her soul. In true Carolyn fashion, she even wrote her own eulogy – offering the lessons she learned in her far-too-short 43 years and reminding her people she will always live within their hearts.
It gives me chills.
You see, Carolyn knew of my heartache and my distance from my previously held faith and yet she never wavered in believing in me or the hope that I would come back. That Tuesday morning was the first time I had been in church in close to a year. And I went back again on Wednesday. Look at you, Carolyn – your servant’s heart is on full display even while we mourn you.
This was the heart of the mother, wife, friend and servant that I have always known.
If you have a few minutes – this is a video I created for her family. I hope that it shows you her beautiful soul and how loved she will continue to be. I’d embed it if I could – but I included songs that fall in to ‘copyright’ – so I can’t post it on YouTube. 🙂
I’m beyond grateful to have known her and am mesmerized by the light, love and strength I can see shining in the family she has left behind.
Until I see you again, friend.