I've been pretty friggin' bummed out about my friend passing away. You're probably thinking " well, YEAH," but even though she battled cancer (small "c" because I refuse to give it power) for 3 years, it still hit me full-force because I just assumed prayer, positive thinking, support, and her own iron will would beat it into submission.
I was wrong. Sort of.
See, the cancer wreaked havoc with her body, but it didn't touch her spirit. Last July, she sent me a text message in the wee small hours of the morning (after-effects of the chemo kept her up some nights, and since I'm a west-coast night-owl, she would text me from the Midwest), the text message read "I can't control the cancer, but I can control my spirit and I want to stay strong and glorify God." and she did. Right up until the end, she was saying "When I am weak, He is strong." She stood strong in her convictions, and refused to let a temporary situation sway her from what she had held to be true all of her life.
As I've said before, I believe we all have a purpose, and nobody can fill our spot in the world quite like we can. It is also my belief that we pass on from this world into the next once our work is done, or we refuse to fulfill it. With regard to my friend, Vicki, I think she was all lived out. She did more in a day than most people did in a week. She knew how to meet a person wherever they were, and provide just what they needed with a willing heart. Because of this, she was greatly admired and loved, and will be missed in equal proportion. Also, because of this, I wonder if maybe she had more "miles" on her than her 57 years would indicate.
When someone "dies," we grieve their presence: their hearty laugh and wry sense of humor. Their wit, compassion, and the sound of their voice. 2AM text messages. We miss all of that. We may even be angry about the circumstances surrounding their passing. That's common and normal. At a certain point during Vicki's funeral, looking around at the (estimated) 500 people who had come to pay their respects, I got it.
Rather than focusing on the illness and circumstances surrounding her death, it was far more useful and befitting to focus on her life, and what lessons I could learn from someone who gave far more than she sought In return, and in return received more than she ever could have thought to seek.