I attended the funeral yesterday of one of the sweetest, dearest, best people I have ever known. She was the essence of love, gentleness, and giving. She also had the sweetest, softest voice I have ever heard. I had somewhat lost touch with her in recent years, and that was my loss. But for several years of my life, I spent many afternoons and nights at her house. I love that family, and I know they are hurting so much now.
Jonathan called me New Year's night to tell me that she was in the hospital and they didn't think she was going to make it. He hardly ever calls me, so when I saw his name on my phone, I had a sinking feeling. The next afternoon, Jack and I rode down to visit. She had slipped into a coma by the time we got there. I couldn't bear to watch her lying there, struggling for each breath. Not long after I got home that evening, he called and said she had passed.
Why do we so often not go see people while they are still here? Well, I say we. Maybe it's just me. Sure, it's important to attend funerals and such, but really, that's more for the remaining family. Many times I have thought that the person would have much preferred me to stop by and visit and talk to them for awhile when they were still here. Anyhow...
I was trying to think of a specific memory that just stands out, but mainly I just remember her taking a genuine interest in my life, and everyone's for that matter. I guess the one thing I remember is that when I had gotten out of church for a few years, she mentioned several times, in the most loving, gentle way, that I knew I should get back in church. Of course I knew that, but you can never discount the value of someone encouraging you. And she did it in a way that never made me feel the slightest bit uncomfortable.
She had an amazing sensitivity to others that I have never seen in anyone else. If something was wrong or something was bothering you, she would know it as soon as you walked in the door. And you could deny it or say nothing was wrong, but you were not fooling her. Maybe it was a gift. Maybe it was just something that developed from genuinely caring for and taking an interest in the lives of others. She was an encourager. She truly saw the good in everyone, and I would say that she touched every single person she ever met. She was someone who made you want to be a better person. Some people tend to drag you down to their level. She lifted you up. If ever there was a modern-day example of what a life should be, it was hers.
She was a light, and the world is truly a little darker today. Barbara, you are loved and will be sorely missed :'(
"My old friend, I apologize, for the years that have passed since the last time you and I, dusted off those memories. But the running and the races, the people and the places, there's always somewhere else I had to be. And time gets thin, my old friend..."