For a Friend

A year ago, the hearts of many were heavy as we received word of the passing of an outstanding lady that my wife and I were lucky to know and call friend.

We last saw her at handbell practice in early November after returning from a week-long Caribbean cruise. She was fighting chest congestion for a month, thus at the end of rehearsal, my wife and another ringer convinced her to escalate her troubles. Later that week she went to the hospital, received X-rays, was admitted, and never returned home.

Being gracious, funny, and a good one to kid, those that knew her, loved her. No matter what she did, she always gave it her best, and with the ability to laugh at herself … and, much too young to leave the living.

We, and the family, thought she would be home for Thanksgiving or shortly thereafter, but the lung cancer was too aggressive and too advanced. I can’t recall ever crying for so many consecutive days – not for any friends or my grandparents, aunts, uncles, or parents. It was very hard for us in this house, and it also impacted our entire holiday season.

Nonetheless, we grabbed our bootstraps, and focused on her husband because that is something we could do here and now. I’m proud of him as he’s done well, and I’m happy with the little part that I’ve played.

Today is the first anniversary of her passing – thus, why I couldn’t do a cartoon post. She wouldn’t be much for the today’s hub-bub, thus would be fussy with me to post as normal – but that’s ok, she’s not here to stop me … besides, I can use this to  kid her again!

I’ve thought a lot of her this week, and even write this with tears – but it’s something I had to do for a good lady.

A few days after her funeral, I posted this tribute to her, as I share a constant reminder I have of her.  Besides, I know I’m a better person today because of her role of a portion of my life – but my wife and I still miss her.

Her funeral was difficult for the entire handbell choir as she was one of us, besides, her husband asked us to play. I still recall the difficulty of that rehearsal for the entire choir, but also his strength and pride through his smile as we concluded at the funeral.

Today is a good time to share this beautiful version of Beside Still Waters we played with heavy hearts for our friend and handbell colleague.

Meanwhile, “Hey up there – how are the butterflies?” (actually, an inside joke for her that I couldn’t resist)

On a Thought for Support

While attending a funeral visitation (wake), have you ever heard or maybe even said to the griever, “Call me if you need anything”? Heck, maybe you have been on the receiving end of that line.

There is no doubt in my mind that the comment is sincere, and some people who are actually eager to do something. Besides, many times we struggle with what to say to the griever. On the other hand, many inside the griever’s inner circle are the people most likely to be receiving the call of help.

Here is a suggestion on a way anyone can help. Since as outsiders we know and respect the griever well enough to attend. With that in mind, call them at least 3 weeks later. Then call them a month or two after that. Sure, you can offer assistance, but more importantly, the call will catch them by surprise, they will appreciate the contact, and it gives them a chance to talk. Here is an example.

We met Kathy and her family in the late 70s at the church we joined. Ten years later, the church moved west and we moved east, thus our lives separated. Then about four years ago, Kathy appeared at our current church.

We discovered the changes in her life as the kids were grown and gone, her divorce from the husband we knew, her current marriage, places that she had lived outside of Cincinnati, and that her current husband was fighting cancer,

He died this past summer. I attended the visitation and the embrace I received not only surprised me, it told me that she appreciated my visit.

Several months later during an evening my wife was at a meeting, I wonder how Kathy is doing popped into my mine, so I called her. Over the next two hours we talked about her support system, the way people respected her husband, people at our the old church where we met, and life with her previous husband – and I learned he died 7-8 years ago.

Although the length of time we talked surprised me, I know I used those 2 hours well and that she appreciated them. Although I have called other grievers in the past, this call truly demonstrated to me that it an important thing to do – thus, something for you to keep in mind.