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Finding God in the Story of Your Life

A delicate gift

One of the hardest things in life is to go to the funeral of a person younger than you. But that is what I will be doing tomorrow afternoon.

            Last weekend, my dear friend Pam dropped dead, suddenly and unexpectedly. From what we were told, she suffered an aneurism in her aorta, and collapsed while watching her ten-year-old daughter cheer at a football game.

            I’ve known Pam for almost 20 years, although I typically only see her on summer weekends. Like me, she married into a family that had been living on Lake Beulah in Wisconsin for two generations. She married my husband’s long time friend Jeff, and we’d sometimes compare notes on what it was like to marry a sailor, what it was like to find our place in a community of people who had known each other almost their whole lives.

            We have so many memories of boating, going to regattas, parties and times just hanging out together. Many summer weekends, we would often go boating with Jeff and Pam. This summer, we loaded up our kids onto their pontoon boat and took them to the high dive at the far end of the lake, and laughed as we watched them jump and play in the water.

            The community up at the lake is tight-knit—even though we really don’t see each other during the winter. But in the summers, we share the bond of sailing, and enjoying the lake together.  

            I am still in shock—not really believing that she’s gone. How can a healthy forty-year-old mother of three just die, with no warning? Every day since I heard the news, I have looked at my family in a new way. The little things that once annoyed me no longer seem to bug me. I hug them, tell them I love them, look at them. It’s easy to go through life without ever looking at the people around you—they become part of the landscape. They’re there, but you don’t notice. If there’s anything that will make you live mindfully, it’s death. While I want to get over my grief, I don’t want to get over the way that my grief has made me value my loved ones so deeply. I want to hang on to this awareness, that life is a delicate gift.

            Life is precious, and it can change in an instant. Don’t miss it. Love extravagantly. Forgive generously. Speak kindly. Pay attention, for God’s sake.

           

4 Comments

  1. Dear Keri,

    Thanks for your beautifully written tribute to your dear friend, Pam. May God provide His loving comfort to you as you process this unexpected loss.

    Thank you for reminding us of the fragility of life and to not miss an opportunity to share our love and appreciation to those around us.

    I am also grieving, having lost a friend and mentor who died suddenly last week. Wayne Anderson, our former interim pastor, Preacher, Teacher, and Promoter of God’s Grace, died unexpectedly. His memorial is also tomorrow, on Thursday. I will miss his continual encouragement in our mission endeavors and life in general…but most of all, I will miss his welcoming weekly hugs on Sunday morning.

    Blessings to you and your family!
    Rose Ann

  2. Keri,

    Sounds like you had a great friend. Will be praying that the God of Comfort will hold you in His hand.

    Thursday must be the day for funerals, as I am attending one tomorrow too. My uncle’s father died late last week, he was 95. He was a Godly man who has left a legacy of faith in his family.

    Thanks for your reminders about not missing the opportunities we have with our loved ones.

    Karin

  3. I am sorry for your deep loss. Life is indeed a delicate and fragile gift, to be held lightly and cherished fully. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Keri,

    I am so sorry for your loss. You are right…it’s easy to see people as the landscape in our lives, and not pay attention to them. I am so guilty of focusing on my own agenda & not seeing the big picture.

    Praying for that family. I have a 10 year old girl, and the thought of leaving her…especially without having the chance to say goodbye & try to impart some wisdom…makes me shudder.

    Blessings.

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