In the past couple of weeks while I’ve been obsessing over the race, some other not-so-fun stuff has been going on. That’s putting it mildly, really. I was grateful for the distraction of race prep because frankly it kept me from sinking in a constant tear-fest over here.
New Year’s Eve I was sitting in Sea World waiting for the sea lion show to start when I got a text from a friend that one of my beloved neighbors passed away. Unbeknownst to me, Belva had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in October. I suspected something was up when I saw medical equipment trucks visit a few times over the past month, but I didn’t want to be nosy.
The Lord had pressed on my heart to pray for her family and even maybe bring them a meal, but I hadn’t done that. I had thought about inviting them to church Christmas Eve but didn’t. When I got the news I was devastated because I adored Belva and because I felt like I’d missed a great opportunity.
After we moved in almost five years ago, Belva made sure to introduce herself and her husband, Billy, to me. At the time her tween-aged grandson was living with her and I had much respect for her raising him and choosing to live in a great school district for him. When we hosted a Christmas open house that year she specifically asked me what colors my house was decorated in, which I thought a weird question that had no real answer except neutral, and then she showed up with a loving gift of some throw blankets. I was touched at the thoughtfulness.
|That’s Belva on the left.
Belva had this HUGE smile and warm hug for everyone. One time her grandson knocked on my door selling school spirit cups as a fundraiser. I had been expecting our other neighbor to come babysit so I was surprised to see him and mentioned that. I didn’t buy a cup because I had no need for one. Well apparently he thought I was just waiting to buy one from our other neighbor, and somehow got the impression it might be because he was black and our babysitter was white. Not even close to true, of course. Well Belva listened to him, told him she was sure that wasn’t the case, and politely explained his feelings to me when I bumped into her later. I confirmed that I didn’t buy a cup from anyone and meant no personal offense to him, she smiled and that was that. I admired her frankness and honesty for even bringing it up.
Belva’s funeral was beautiful. Many of her family and friends testified to her great faith, something I didn’t know about her. Her pastor gave a powerful “eulogy to the living” sharing the gospel as clear as day. I hope I can be a better friend and neighbor to the husband, daughter and twin toddler grandchildren she left behind.
Then just a few days after her funeral I got word from one of my close friends that her husband was in the hospital in septic shock. He went from feeling fine to not feeling good to fighting for his life in a day, and no one knew why. Now this was not just my friend’s husband either, I considered him our friend too. I had gotten to know him over the years and liked him a lot.
Turns out he had MRSA of the blood. I still don’t know details of how he got it, but after a few intense days he lost his battle with it. To say that I was in shock is an understatement. Chris was young and healthy and they had just spent a wonderful vacation in Colorado. Monica was just about to fulfill her dream of running a marathon. Now she has to raise her two small children without him. It hurts me even to write those words.
Tomorrow night and Friday we will celebrate the life of Chris Brallier and say our goodbyes. It’s gut wrenching. I know from my recent study of scripture that God has a particular affinity for widows and commands us to care for them. I will try to figure out how to do that with Monica, not just now but for a long time to come. I trust that our circle of good friends will do the same.
So last night I went with a friend to a new Bible study with Beth Moore. Like, actually in person Beth. I’ve never been a Beth Moore groupie or anything but she’s funny and I always learn something from her so I figured I’d go.
Well let me tell you, God knew I needed that right now. She is so warm and loving and her passion for Jesus and the women she teaches radiates from her. The worship we had first with four thousand other women was breathtaking. The study is called Children of the Day and the songs reminded us of how we have been called out of darkness into celebration and light and lift in Jesus. Beth reminded us from 1 Thessalonians that we are loved by God and chosen. I needed to hear all those things last night.