This post is dedicated to my friend Kathleen, who joined the ranks of Heaven this past week.
When I taught English, one of the activities I would have my students do was write their own obituary. While it may sound morose, it was a good lesson—not only would it help them choose concise and vivid descriptors, but I encouraged my students to reflect on how they wanted to live—and be remembered.
I’m not sure what Kathleen would have written as a high school student if given that assignment, but I do know that she lived her life with amazing grace.
In remembering Kathleen, there’s a big part of me that feels like I have no business writing this because I won’t do even a sliver of justice to who she was. She had so many wonderful people in her life who knew her way better than I did. Yet I feel compelled to say something about my friend, so please bear with me.
Kathleen was an extraordinary woman. I met her when she began serving on a ministry I led at our church, and it grew into a real friendship. Kathleen was a real friend. When I use the word “real” here, it means two main things—that Kathleen was both a genuine friend, and also that she did not pretend to be a perfect person. She let herself be seen as she really was. She was courageous in that way.
The temptation might be to make her into a saint in her passing, but she would be the first to giggle at that notion. She was honest, loving, caring, silly, brave, smart…and beyond that, she was wise. She genuinely listened and mulled things over. She was so very thoughtful. And she was a truly devoted wife and mother. Her kids meant the world to her. But she would never claim to be June Cleaver sweeping through life with her pumps and pearls on. As I said, Kathleen was real.
In the throes of her battle with a devastating cancer, she would still always ask, “And how are you?”…and she really wanted to know. She was the kind of person that made you feel special—and she did that for countless people. That is truly a gift.
The last chapter of her life was an immensely challenging one, and she battled with every ounce of energy and strength she had. Her fight with cancer was a roller coaster journey that was physically and emotionally cruel. Hope here, disappointment there. Good news! But then there’s more bad news…We used to joke about primal scream therapy—because sometimes that seemed to be the only thing that made sense.
Through it all, Kathleen remained faithful to her belief that Jesus was her Savior. And as with all other things about Kathleen, her faith was real. Which meant that it wasn’t easy. She struggled with the Big Why of it all. She was angry that her cancer had returned, and her heart was broken as a mother that she would not physically be here for her children. And because of this “realness,” she was an inspiration to so, so many of us. She wrestled with so much, and while she lost the earthly battle, she won the ultimate war with amazing grace.
And out of all of the wonderful ways I could describe Kathleen, for me, it really all comes down to that: she had amazing grace. She had the grace of her Lord that she knew she could count on, and she lived her life with amazing grace and love.
I really can’t think of a better way to be remembered. And Kathleen will indeed be remembered by so many people who loved her and were loved by her. I am blessed to have been her friend, and while I am joyful that she is free from pain and Home, I will miss her dearly.