Its strange how hello is also the way that we say good bye. When I was a young girl of 7 or 8, I visited my sister Sandra and her best friend in Northern California. I remember things like the redwood forest, and the first moment of actually hugging a tree. I loved how they smelled, and do to this day. I had my first hiking experience (aka nearly getting lost in the woods). I flew on a PSA jet with my brother and sisters, and got a small set of gold wings pinned to my shirt while drinking orange juice provided by a girl wearing real knee high boots. It was the 70’s. The guy in the seat in front of me was smoking. That was the summer that I met Cathy Jones. That was the summer that the monkey at the zoo spit water at my sisters (Carol Ann and Patricia, not Sandra) for being a pain in his hairy behind.
I had met my sisters best friend earlier in life, but this was the real first memory that I have of her, still the strongest image that there is out there. She was funny in a dry sort of way, a very smart woman who liked white wine. She would spend the better part of her life proving that one person can be a best friend, against all odds, for all time. She helped raise my sister’s two kids, most specifically Jennifer. Jenn, my 30 year old niece, is a joy to me, part of my family, one of my girlies. She’s home for family dinners, married to a great guy, Lee…and she is brokenhearted over the loss of her Mama Cath. I am sure that the world is hard for my sister today, as she lay to rest the friendship that spanned from high school to these days. I am sure that the world, somewhere, had to stop for just a moment to notice that this precious soul who lingered breathed her last and slipped away. As a hospice chaplain, I know the moments. I never believe that God doesn’t mark each one separately, uniquely. Oh, what love there must be in that moment of trust between the Creator and the created. How I trust that this journey comes to a place of love and understanding.
It is the memory that will resonate with me today as I feel the grief in my little nieces’ chest from a thousand miles away. Her Mama Cath has died, way to early in life. Cathy Jones went to be with our Lord today, at 54 years of age. Cancer is a horrific thing.
So what, you may say? It’s just another life. People die every day. I didn’t know her.
We’re all connected. Everything and everyone, we’re all connected into the same energy, the same universe. Yes, some of us are soul twins and will spend life connected at all costs. Some of us are great loves that will never let go. Some are strangers that we still pray over. Some we’ll never meet eyes with. Still, it all matters. What you say, what you do, how you love. It all matters. Even though her work and her world may not have impacted you, her legacy through Jen and Alex, it may someday. Maybe someday Jennifer’s children will move just so, and that wouldn’t have happened without the legacy that Cathy left behind. Maybe just a summer week of kindness to a painfully thin, heartbroken little girl with a shy smile was just that moment.
What do I take away from this moment?
Life can end in a moment, without your expecting it.
It all matters, it all counts, everything that you do. Don’t think “should” think “love.” Act in love.
Don’t take it for granted. Light the candles. Drink the wine. Sing the song. Say “I love you” and mean it with all you are. Show it. Live it, be willing to do anything for it.
Toss fear, conquer disbelief, be willing to lose that you might eventually find your way….but live.
Don’t waste one more day going through the motions.
Grace and Peace, Cathy Jones.
May the blessings of an ever present Christ be yours now and always.
Grace and Peace.