She was my friend. She was my friend for twenty-two years. She was a daughter, a wife and a mother. I realize, black on white, this is not that impressive. Certainly nothing out of the ordinary. Beth, however, was anything but ordinary.
I speak of her in past tense because Beth has gone home to be with the love of her life. She died of a rare form of metastasis cancer that settled in her lungs. Hundreds of us are left behind with a void in our lives, a place only Beth could fill. Why do you need to know about Beth? To that I answer this: She knew how live when it was her time to live and she knew how to die when it was her time to die.
Beth – funny, lovely inside and out, gracious, full of life. All of these describe the woman that I called sister-friend. She loved to dance and would spontaneously break into a song. Gregarious was Beth in a word. She was the yin to my yang. I, the introvert and Beth, the extrovert. I remember in times past, when I wasn’t always so comfortable in my own skin, I could be intimidated by Beth’s exuberance for life. Life, according to my rules, should not be so over-the-top. Now I thank God for the ever-lasting joy she radiated, for the graciousness she demonstrated while loving me in my insecurity.
As I grieve and look back, I realize I was given the opportunity to attend a life class taught by Beth. In her dying, she lived, and taught us, her family and friends, how to do the same.
What can I tell you about this course Beth so eloquently taught? Well, her relationship with her Savior was her single most cherished possession. It ultimately affected every relationship and area of her life. She openly displayed her love for Him on her face and in her actions. Because she loved Him so carefully, she loved others the same way. Even as she gasped for breath and weakness overtook her, she could make me laugh. About her cremation she said this: “I’m wearing my Italy dress (her favorite while visiting there) and I plan to go out in a blaze of glory.”
Oh, Beth taught me to seize each day with an urgency to love and to use the struggles of life to do so. In a meditation she gave several months ago she said this: “I have seen His goodness daily. My quality of life has increased so much that I can trust Him with the quantity of my life. He is the authority over my days. I do not fear dying. Instead, I look forward to each day, anticipating the great things He has set aside for me to do. Would I be at this place without cancer? Probably not – and for this place I live in today, I am grateful for the struggle and difficulty it brings.”
Yes, she was my friend. Never ordinary. Always extraordinary.