I received a phone call in early September that after 10 years of fighting brain cancer, my sister, Teresa had passed away. Her journey over the last few years had been especially challenging and I hated that I lived so far away from her. Please continue to keep our family in your prayers and her immediate family, especially. They are dear and experiencing a tremendous loss and time right now. Thanks for all your love and prayers.
It’s been a month since I said “so long” to my sister, Teresa, who was 49 years old. Wow, so young , right? My thoughts exactly! However, in this young life of hers, she made a tremendous impact on the lives around her. And a lot of that impact was during her illness. I lived about a 10-12 hours drive away from her…depending on which routes you take….private joke there, I’ll explain some other time. Needless to say, I did not witness a lot of that impact while she was living because of this distance, but, boy, did I see it when I went to her home after her passing for the funeral.
Young and old, alike, testified to her love, selfless caring and laughter! Oh that laugh of hers. It echoed in my heart the entire time I was there. How I longed to hear that laugh one more time. Several family members had the opportunity to visit Teresa a month before her passing and were able to say their good-byes as it turned out to be, which at the time, no one could have known good-bye would come so fast. Me and my father did not get there in time, and the very day we planned to leave, she left us.
Heartache and regret filled my soul as I hung up the phone from the news of her passing. Nothing prepared me for what I would witness when I arrived. I encountered a husband and children who were by her very side for the last 10 years, caring, cleaning, supporting, holding, crying and loving her to the very end. The love and familyness (my made up word) of it all was so overwhelming, I thought, I want to love like that! I want to care like that, and realized in the light of that love, that I was far from it.
My heart grieved so hard the days I was there with her family, but THEY loved and cared for me when THEY were the ones that I should have been caring for. But it was their very nature, the very essence of the family that they had built and, I believe, was even built in the midst of her illness. What a beautiful thing to behold and partake of!
The day finally came for the funeral, which was initially going to be saying a few words and ending it, but the funeral director knew how important it was going to be to the family to say a “proper” good-bye (good funeral director) and what a good-bye it was. One by one, young people got up to rant about the love that Teresa showed them and her husband, alike, how they had taken them in when they had nowhere to go and how she was like “momma” to them. Over and over, people lauded the same things and I got to know a sister that I never had the privilege of knowing, and although I was proud of who she was, I grieved, all the more, that I had not known her like they had known her.
That loss will be felt all the days of my life here on this earth. She built a legacy for her children and all who knew her to emulate and live in. It IS important what “they” say about you when you’re gone, because it declares the kind of person you were while you were here!! It matters because lives are affected while you live and you may never even know it. It matters because it gives those who you leave behind a bed to sleep in; I fire to warm themselves by; a trail to follow and THAT matters.
So, next time you say ” I don’t care what they say about me”, remember it’s not just about someone’s opinion of you, it’s ALWAYS about how you impacted their life for better or worse. Choose today what they will say about you when you’re gone! And, hey, call your mom and dad and your sisters and brothers!!!
Is there anyone in your family or those close to you that you need to call? Anyone you need to let know how much you love them or reconcile with? If so, I’d love to hear from you about it!
Let Christ be glorified in all!