I know one of the ways I can tell that God loves me is by the people He has placed in my life. I have been blessed to have loved and been loved by so many quality people. I think part of it is because I was born and raised in Italy. We have truly good people here that care about each other and you see it more during adversity than you do at any other time.
Having such wonderful people I am close to feels so good – then again, when they pass away, that good feeling immediately turns to pain.
Back in 2007, within 13 months, I lost sixteen people in my family and close friend circle. If it were not for the Lord and the other supportive people He placed in my life, I might not have made it through this time.
I thought when the deaths finally ended, maybe, just maybe, I would not have to endure losing so many people in such a short time. Well, I was wrong. Beginning on July 18th of this year when Keith Wolfe died, it started all over again.
Two nights later, on July 20th, I lost my cousin Roland Green and two life long friends, Bobbie Thompson and Frances Yarbrough.
A couple of days later, on July 22nd, we lost Jessie Phillips, my husband’s co-worker.
After taking a few deep breaths and relaxing just a bit, Gayla Holley Tekell lost her valiant fight with cancer on August 17th and my heart broke. Two days later, my sweet friend and prayer partner, Sue Garrick passed away.
Then Sue Jenkins passed away on August 28th. By this time I had cried so much I could not cry anymore. I sat at home and tried to cry – I couldn’t and thought maybe it was because I did not have any tears left.
God has a way of comforting us that is unexplainable. He also allows us to find comfort in the smallest things.
Ruby Brown was the next one to go on September 4th. I had known her since 1956 when I started to school with her daughter, Katrina. We have been friends ever since. Ruby, like Bobbie Thompson, was like a second mama to me. We shared some really fun times through the years and I learned a lot from her. Her family had brought her home from the hospital on hospice a couple of days before she died. I had taken food for the family several times and they allowed me to sit by her bed, hold her hand and talk to her. She was so gravely ill and had not responded to me at all. I wanted her to know I was there so badly.
About an hour or so before she passed away, I went over to tell Ruby goodbye, something I had not been able to do until that time. Katrina told me she was not responding at all, but I wanted to talk to her anyway.
“Ruby Duby,” I said, as I held her hand and stroked her hair. “I love you very much. I want you to know how much I appreciate everything you have done for me all these years. You sewed buttons on for me, gave all of us a place to have parties and be safe. You kept us fed half the time and you made us laugh. I will miss you terribly, but I will not be sad because you are going to heaven.”
I also shared the scripture about her mansion in heaven and that Jesus had prepared a place for her.
Then I noticed it. A single tear was forming in her right eye. I got Katrina’s attention and told her about the tear. She said it could not be because her mom did not cry – she hadn‘t cried in years, not even when she lost her husband. I told her to get the rest of the family and come and talk to her because she could hear them. That single tear was the proof they needed.
I watched that single tear run down her cheek as her daughters and grandchildren talked to her. I left so they could have this final moment with Ruby. And, sure enough she passed away about an hour after I left.
When I got home and thought about that single tear and what a gift from God it was, the dam broke. I am not sure how long I cried, but it was a while.
God, through Ruby, had given me what I needed – a way to cleanse all the hurt and pain I had been feeling for about six weeks. And I knew she knew I was there. I am so thankful for that.
At Ruby’s funeral the pastor shared the scripture about the mansions. Katrina turned and smiled at me. Even if no one else knew why that was so significant, we did and that was all that mattered.
Even though it hurts when someone I love dies, I would rather have the pain than not have had them in my life. In life you must take the good with the bad and with God’s help that is what I can and will do. The end for now.