My sweet, funny, helpful, kind friend Holly has passed from this life into the hands of God.
I weep not for her but for myself, for this life was not kind to her. She was always so much more than she realized and yet so much less than she wanted to be. She was influenced by experiences and memories that are beyond my understanding. Some things she could talk about, eventually; some she could not.
I told Holly that God brought us together so we could help each other, but she didn’t see how she helped me beyond taking out the compost bowl or clearing the table. And how did she help me? In myriad ways.
- I’m more compassionate toward people in minimum wage jobs. I see how she struggled to have the basics and I realize others do, too. I understand the value of food stamps.
- I see that a college education is not necessarily the answer to getting out of a bad situation. She graduated in 2010, and, except for a few months, her situation did not improve.
- I understand why she sometimes talked about suicide as her best way out. What hope did she have before she came to faith in God? Missing work and possibly losing her job, no supportive family, nowhere to go if she was without a paycheck. But knowing God changed that for her.
- I thank God all the time for my faithful parents—faithful to God and to me.
- I thank God for my solicitous and Christian siblings. Her only brother’s idea of how to fix a problem situation is to get drunk.
- I treasure the small pleasures of life, such as decorating the Christmas tree or just seeing Christmas lights around town. She said, “I hate the holidays except for the lights.” She could gaze at our Christmas tree for hours. For her, last Christmas, I put my tree up earlier than ever in my life, just so she could enjoy the lights.
- I’ve developed more patience in everything. Watching her get anywhere she needed to go by bus was a lesson in patience since it took her all day on a Saturday to go to a store to get her brother’s birthday gift.
- I’ve learned the long-range effects of how children are treated. Sitting with her as she had nightmares from childhood helped me to tolerate her hesitation to go to sleep. Seeing a grown woman cry and plead, “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again. Please don’t…” in her sleep and actually cower in bed was overwhelming.
- I understand how trivial most of my “problems” are. How does what to serve for a bountiful Christmas dinner compare with how to find affordable housing in a safe neighborhood?
- I pray more. I prayed for her constantly when we were together and desperately when we were apart.
- I am grateful for my conscientious children and grandchildren. How blessed we are to have each other, and yet I feel almost guilty that we share so much love when Holly’s life is so bereft of it.
- I’ve learned of the extreme compassion of our daughter, who took Holly in like a sister at various times. She frequently texted her, called her, and kept up with her issues. She was the first person Holly called in an emergency.
- My grandson through her learned about troubled people. He was gentle with her, and when she left he would sometimes says, “Poor Holly,” with no judgment and great kindness.
- I place more value on my faith. I often hear folks say, “How do people make it without God in their lives?” With Holly, I see exactly how that works, and I appreciate more and more that I’ve always had “God in my life.”
- I’ve seen how having God in her life changed her. She arose from her baptism a new person, though still with the burdens of the old one. She constantly listened to her Bible on tape (yes, though she joked about using the old technology I’d given her) and talked to God a lot. Her most frequent request of me was “Please pray for me.”
I am happy for her that she is now pain-free after living with pain of one sort or another her whole life. I am grateful that I knew a person who was so warm and caring in spite of life’s reverses. Well, no more reverses. It’s fast forward for my precious Holly from now on.