In December of 2000 I first met a small elderly woman called Lee at the parish where I had become rector. Her family members lived in other states and countries but she had many friends. The church was her support system and she was a rock in the foundation of that faith community.
In 2001 we celebrated her 90th birthday and that year she first came to our home at Christmas. I am not sure if we adopted Lee or she adopted us but it was a done deal. Telling her this past summer we were moving to Indiana was hard but she sent us off with a big smile and her blessing.
She told us often that her prayers took a long time as she held up in prayer all sorts of people and always told us we were on her list among her own family. Lee was a strong woman who had endured much in life including the untimely death of her first husband and a difficult second marriage.
Lee told us she had as much as she needed , though never very much. But she was generous in her giving and deeply grateful in receiving – even such trifles as a a box of kleenex, greeting card and stamps. When I was rector of her church it was rare for me to visit that she did not get $5 or $10 from her wallet for the church or my discretionary account – and this taken from her $50 a month comfort allowance.
In the recent procession of saints to the pearly gates, that we have seen personally and in our new parish over the past few months, I find that Lee’s death has hit harder – even though she lived past her 100th birthday. Every death is additive and connects us with our previous losses. But that is the risk of loving and being loved. In loving one risks loss. But the greater loss is in not loving, not being touched by beautiful souls like Lee. Sorrow is the interest we pay for being loaned these loving saints of God who journey with us part of the way.
May Lee be restored to wholeness and strength in the light and presence of God where she will be reunited with her loved ones – and may she greet us one day to that place where there is no sorrow or grief but the fullness of life and love.
Don & Nancy