Monday, November 8, 2010
Saturday I attended the funeral of my friend Lisa. She passed away from the effects of ovarian cancer, and she left behind parents and four sisters. One of those sisters was my dearest friend Stef. She invited my little family to be a part of her larger family almost thirty years ago, a blessing I will never fully be able to repay. I learned so much from them over the years, but never more than on Saturday when Stef and her sisters said goodbye to Lisa. It wasn't sad, it was beautiful....it was hopeful, it was a celebration of a "life lived well."
Lisa left this life surrounded by her family. And she passed on to a life I know is also filled with family. This life is simply a stop in our eternal journey. There are specific things we do at every stop, and this one is all about how we treat each other. If you hadn't noticed, this life can be very hard. We have a great deal of serious things to deal with. Illness, money, and our relationships with people. We deal with parents, the Taliban,children, husbands, wives, and the Chinese. Our whole lives revolve around people...the ones on the freeway who need to be in our lane a bit prematurely.....the ones who get the last cardigan on sale in our size...or the ones who ask us to go ahead of them in line because we only have a gallon of milk.
When Lisa was in the hospital I saw something that will stay in my heart forever. She was in intensive care, in a small room, very intimidating with lots of machines, and certainly not a lot of privacy....I was there with Ann for a minute and then Stef came in and then a few minutes later Karen arrived. Three of her sisters. I stood at the foot of the bed and watched these three women stroke her hair, hold her hand, adjust her pillows, offer her water, just doing whatever they could to help her be comfortable. They worked in tandem, a graceful dance of ministering angels. I will keep the picture of those three sisters around Lisa's bed in my heart forever.
I was changed by that...I realized more clearly than ever before that we are here on earth to comfort each other, to help each other, to lift each others burdens. We have been given talents and blessings not simply to enrich our own lives but to enrich the lives of those around us. Only when we decide each day to make life a bit more bearable for someone else do we really find joy.
Saturday I listened to Stef and her sisters talk about Lisa. Not only did Lisa matter, but she made life easier for those around her. I know she did for me. She sent gifts to my children while they were on missions for our church and made sure I always had eye cream. Lisa lived a life that mattered. She was someone who loved people and spent her life helping those who could not help themselves. She left this life peacefully, with no regrets, surrounded by people who loved her. Is anything better than that?
We have very little control over what goes on this in life.....but we do have control over ourselves. We cannot make people love us more, but we can love them more. We can't erase grudges that have occurred, but we can forgive and vow never to hold a grudge again. We can give our husbands or wives or children a mile instead of an inch. We can look for the good in the people around us and simply ignore the bad. We can say we are sorry, which may be our greatest gift to others. I believe in the law of the harvest, that we reap what we sow....and when we are consistently kind, when we tell the truth, when we serve without thinking what is in it for me......we will find real joy. It is our purpose in life to ease each other's burdens...no matter the outcome, never keeping score.
I hope this little blog post conveyed the feelings in my heart. And to my friend Lisa...thank you...thank you for showing me a "life lived well."