In Heaven and Always In My Heart: A Special Tribute

A very special person to me lives in heaven, but will always be in my heart. This article marks the one year anniversary of her passing.  She was born, October 23, 1969, and called home to be with the Lord on October 31, 2013. She would have turned 45 this month. She left behind her husband, two beautiful daughters, a father, a sister, other family and friends, and me.

I think about how much she meant to me when she was with us. We were best friends for about five years before she was diagnosed with cancer. In that last year of her life, especially in the last few months, I let her know how special she was to me and what a difference she made in my life. It wasn’t just me she touched, though; it was a number of people.

We first met as little girls living in the same town and riding the same bus. We were often in the same classes, played baseball, and went to one another’s homes for playdates, birthday, and slumber parties. In high school we remained friends, but migrated to other circles of friends. After graduation, we lived separate lives with little contact.

At our 20th Class Reunion, we reconnected. We caught up a little bit at the reunion and exchanged phone numbers. We lived in the same town again and our kids went to school together. Her oldest daughter was in the same grade as my oldest son. Her youngest daughter and my youngest son were a year apart. We often ran into one another at school functions and planned on getting together. We started talking on a regular basis until eventually, our phone calls became a daily thing.

I have a lot of good memories of certain things we did: bonfires, camping, and making strawberry jam. We talked, laughed, and cried together. It was amazing how alike we were, two kindred spirits who reconnected. I could be myself with her, and that included being able to show my goofy, funny side that not many see. Of course, it helped that she had a goofy side, too! She became my best friend, and was who I really needed at this time with my challenges. I was divorced and struggling to find myself and where I fit into the world. The timing of our renewed friendship was perfect.

My most memorable and special memory is when she led me to have a relationship with God. This scripture in Proverbs 18:24 shows one of the meanings of true friendship:

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (NIV).

I was going to church at the time, but she invited me to go to the church she recently started attending with her family. This church was quite a bit different than to what I was accustomed.

My first time at her church was the most comfortable I ever felt in a church. The people were welcoming and I didn’t feel judged for being a divorced mom of two boys. The praise and worship was fantastic and drew you in to be in His presence. When the pastor spoke that day, I knew I found a new church home. I continued to go on a regular basis.

One special day, with my best friend beside me, I committed myself to the Lord.

I don’t go to this church anymore, but I will always remember its significance as being one of the turning points in my life. In one of my other articles, I write about how it only takes one person to lead you to the Lord. My best friend was my one person.

This is when I started my spiritual journey. When I called my best friend with a situation, asking her what I should do, she would ask me, “Did you pray?” I asked her the same question on some of her talks with me. We were both on this journey together.

Circumstances separated us for a while. Her family moved to Tennessee for a few months. We continued to stay in touch and I had a chance to see her when my family and I went to Tennessee to visit other family. During the time she lived out of state, she started having health concerns. A couple months later, different circumstances brought her back to Michigan with her family. Her health grew considerably worse and more testing was done. This was when she discovered she had cancer.

From the time of diagnosis to her passing, I visited with her frequently. During this time, I held her hand, talked with her, and reminisced about the fun times. She had a visitor diary in her room that I would read to her from people leaving special notes and prayers for her. She celebrated her 44th birthday and I was able to see her a couple days later. I took her lotions and candy. Anyone who knew her, knew she loved her candy.

About five days after my last visit, her husband called me and said her time to go was drawing near. I am honored her family wanted me there when she was called home to be with the Lord. She went peacefully, her room full of the ones who loved her and whom she loved.

In my grief, I was able to see through her life, how God has a plan. My friend was challenged with the decision of her husband adopting her oldest daughter, since the biological father was not in the picture. Her husband was a part of this young lady’s life from a very young age. It was decided her husband would adopt her. What a blessing it turned out to be. Now, with the passing of her mom, she has a parent who is very loving, supportive, and treats her as his own.

I’m so proud of how her husband, in his own grief, has been there for his girls. They are his top priority and he is there for them in every way he can. I know he makes it a lot easier for them to deal with their mom’s loss and everyday life. My friend is looking down proudly at her husband and daughters.

I miss my best friend every day.

Everybody deals with grief differently. This last year, I’ve had my own struggles, but I thank God every day that He gave me “my one person.” Without her, I wouldn’t have this relationship with God I have today, which helps me get through difficult times and to make wiser decisions. The decisions I recently made were life-changing, but I know God was a part of them.

Her passing taught me that life is short. Our time on Earth is temporary and can end way too soon. She will always be in my heart. I have peace knowing I will join her in Heaven someday.  Until we meet again, my friend, who is so beautiful inside and out. You’re with me in spirit and always in my heart.  I thank you and I love you.

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