My good friend passed away suddenly this past weekend. She was only two years older than me. She had three boys just like me (though they're a little older than mine). Tragic. She's battled various things with her health and wellness over the years, but it still felt quite unexpected and abrupt.
Her service was beautiful because she was a beautiful person with a beautiful heart. She was a good friend when I desperately needed a good friend. We had our kids in a preschool co-op together for a semester. We had play dates, craft nights, and went out to lunch occasionally. She helped shop for clothes and accessories (a dreaded task for me) and helped me stage my house to sell (I was clueless and she was amazing!). She had a great eye for design and color and beauty. She taught me how to arrange pillows on my couch properly. I don't know if I will ever eat a caprese salad again without thinking of her. She threw me birthday parties and went to girls' nights out, and we had laughs and cries together over serious and not so serious things. She was always very grateful a generous with her praise, and she was a defender of those she loved. She had strong opinions and shared them freely, and I loved her. I played the piano and sang for her re-baptism into the LDS church not long ago. After I moved, and she moved, we just didn't get together much. My life got busy, she got a new job, and we weren't in the same stage of life anymore. But that didn't mean that I didn't love her still.
After attending her memorial service yesterday, I've had a few things on my mind.
1. Kindness. Life is too short to be anything but kind to others. Very few people have been called to be judges in Israel. I am not one of them. We have ALL been given the call to love one another. "By this shall men know ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:35 "Love thy neighbor as thyself." Mark 12:31. We are to have compassion for one another. "Finally, all of you be of one mind, sympathetic, lovers of your fellow believers, compassionate, and modest in your opinion of yourselves. Don't pay back evil for evil or insult for insult. Instead, give blessing in return. You were called to do this so that you might inherit a blessing. For those who want to love life and see good days should keep their tongue from evil speaking and their lips from speaking lies. They should shun evil and do good; seek peace and chase after it. The Lord's eyes are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayers." 1 Peter 3:8-12 Basically, to be happy, we need to find ways to show love more and talk, gossip, and criticize less. You don't know what battles others are experiencing. Don't make their burdens or trials feel heavier because of your actions or words.
2. People love you. Even if you feel alone. Even if you haven't talked with those people in a long time. Even if you're far away from someone special to you. People love you and most people will support you if you can let them and if you let them know you need support and love.
3. Having the ability to think rationally doesn't always mean you will feel rational. I know I honestly felt crazy after I had Walter for about 6 months. I cognitively knew what I was feeling was irrational, but I couldn't just talk myself into feeling differently. If you need help, get help! For some that means leaning on God, a family member, a friend until you're strong. For some it means taking care of yourself through nutrition, exercise, and healthy hobbies. For others it means finding programs or medication that can help restore balance. There will be times in our lives when we are the strong ones, helping others along, but it is ok to be the one who needs lifting from time to time as well. Let others lift you.
4. Because people love you, there will be an empty space in their hearts when you leave this world for whatever reason. You have touched their lives. Some will be affected more than others, but rest assured, there will be a gaping hole in some people's hearts. My heart nearly broke into a thousand little pieces as I hugged her husband, who loved her with every bit of himself, and her three kids. I pray that the Lord will give them strength to mend their hearts in time. I don't think they'll ever stop missing her, wishing she was at that game or there to help with home work, or there to laugh. That is ok. We are meant to love, even at long distances.
5. Neither you nor I can "fix" someone else. We can offer love, support, friendship, guidance, and clarity, but each of those are like little pieces in the puzzle of their lives. Sometimes that one piece we offer will be enough to make the picture make sense and make the rest fall into place. Sometimes it will be just enough peace and contentment and motivation to keep looking for other pieces to put together another bit of their puzzle. But sometimes the pieces are scattered far enough, and the process feels so overwhelming, that it is hard for people to see how to move forward to complete their beautiful end picture of this life. That does not mean we have failed. The master builder, the architect of life, Jesus Christ, will help piece together and mend any broken pieces. Sometimes that will come in this life. Sometimes it will come in the next. I echo Elder Holland's words, "With the Apostle Paul, I testify that that which was sown in corruption will one day be raised in incorruption and that which was sown in weakness will ultimately be raised in power. I bear witness of that day when loved ones whom we knew to have disabilities in mortality will stand before us glorified and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind. What a thrilling moment that will be! I do not know whether we will be happier for ourselves that we have witnessed such a miracle or happier for them that they are fully perfect and finally “free at last.” Until that hour when Christ’s consummate gift is evident to us all, may we live by faith, hold fast to hope, and show “compassion one of another.”
6. I know that this life isn't the end. I know that families really can be together forever. I know that while God is just, he is also merciful. I know He can heal hearts and minds. I know that He not only weeps for us when we make poor choices, but He weeps with us when we are going through trying times. I know there is hope. When there is breath, there is hope. Hope for a brighter day. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for moments of relief. For a fantastic and powerful talk on this subject, please, please read or listen to Elder Jeffery R. Holland's talk Like a Broken Vessel.
This song kept going through my mind before her service, and I was happy to see it was printed on the program!
Each life that touches ours for Good, by Karen Davidson
Another song I love that feels fitting to include is:
Have I Done Any Good?
Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone's burden been lighter today Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.
There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, "Sometime I'll try,"
But go and do something today.
'Tis noble of man to work and to give;
Love's labor has merit alone.
Only he who does something helps others to live.
To God each good work will be known.
May we each use our lives to lift and build rather than tear down. Do good in the world. I love you, Diane, and will miss you. "Till we meet at Jesus' feet."