Just One Time

Today I am mourning the loss of a sweet, young wife and mother who has died.  All week long we’ve known she was struggling and I have asked everyone I know to pray for her and her beloved family.  My only consolation is that she is at peace, but her death will stay with me forever.  It’s difficult to describe the depth of feeling I have for this girl because, I only met her once. 

We met at a cocktail party.  She was there with her husband and we had mutual friends, but we were not acquainted.  She wore a scarf around her head (she had just finished a round of cancer treatment at the time) but it was her beautiful smile that made me like her instantly.  As the evening went on, we ended up at the same table and we started chatting.  It turned out we had a lot in common.  She was a photographer (we discussed cameras and lenses) and the mother of two children (girl and boy) and they had a dairy farm.  We had mutual friends (she had even spent time with Steel in Pismo a few years earlier.) We just got along so easily.  I walked away from the evening feeling so blessed by the interaction.

I came home and told Sierra about this girl I met and insisted that she give her a call the next time she was looking for a photographer.  “You’ll love her” I promised.  Sierra listened and scheduled Jameson’s 6th month photos.  On the way home from the appointment, Sierra called to tell me that I was absolutely right about this girl.  “She was wonderful.”  Even Jameson was smitten.

In the months (years) since that initial meeting, we’ve chatted a bit on social media (and discussed a mutual love for our favorite literary character, Jamie Fraser) but I never did get a chance to see her again.  I followed along as she struggled with her health and celebrated the moments of wellness she enjoyed this past spring.  To hear she was sick again was just terrible news.

I cannot explain why Rachel’s life and death have moved me to such depth of feeling, but my heart is heavy and I know the world is a little bit colder this morning without her presence.  The life (and ultimately the death) of those we love only have meaning if we allow our lives to be transformed by our encounter with that person.  Am I a better person by this all too brief acquaintance?  Absolutely, yes.  She was that special.

One of my favorite scripture stories is that of Jesus and Lazarus.  The words “Jesus wept” (at the death of Lazarus) are profound.  So also, the crowd murmuring “See how much He loved him.”  We learn about Jesus’ depth of feeling, but we also learn about Lazarus too.  It was obvious to everyone there, Lazarus was loved.  And so it goes with this young daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend.  She was profoundly loved and if I knew nothing else about her, that would be enough.

And so we pray: For those who mourn and for those who have died.  For those who suffer with cancer or other health issues and for their caregivers, family and friends.  May our lives be transformed by those we meet, and more importantly, may we strive to be the conduit of God’s love, grace and mercy to those we encounter.  

Just like Rachel.