Someone said the way to grow as an individual is to hang out with people who have already grown beyond you. I want you to meet one such person. Her name is Patty Meredith. Kenya is her current home, where she is deeply loved by many.
She is also entrusting her life to Christ in the midst of a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. The disease doesn’t define her, though. Christ does. She transcends her grief with a greatness of spirit that could only come from Christ Himself.
Some of you ask how I can walk through all that I am walking through.
Short answer: Patty Meredith and the path she has left me to follow.
Recently, she wrote this to me about grief:
My friend and warrior. We have all been watching and some participating with you in life, your walk through death to life. I love you and will miss you desperately. I began grieving the day we left you in Tallahassee, and because we have HOPE the sense of grief is upon us.
Your life has been precious to us. It makes me want to make every moment special with those I love. I am missing you, oh how I will miss you until I can join you in our fulness. Go well my beloved (Note the crazy assumption that I will die before her. Hmm. But “joining me in our fulness”? I am undone).
She then included this post from Red Tent Living by Jan Proett. It’s rich about grief (of which I am deep in the midst of these days):
“I am tired of people dying. I am weary of losing those I love.
My friend and mentor, Brent, died in a rock climbing accident fifteen years ago, and I am still caught off guard every once in a while when I hear him laugh in my ear when I am trying too hard to be helpful to people.
My mom Mary died five years ago after sixty seven years of marriage to my father. A few weeks ago, without thinking, I picked up the phone to call her. I couldn’t believe I had done it, but such is the ingrained desire to hear her sweet curiosity and the simple musings about the day.
Such is grief. Capricious, unpredictable, comforting and honoring, rending, exhausting. It has a mind of its own, deciding to crash in unannounced in the middle of a baby shower, on a hike, in the middle of a business interaction or in the frozen food aisle; choosing to come quietly like a whisper in the hollow hours of early morning. There is no field manual for this stuff. It is different for everyone.
And for those of us who have tasted the goodness of God in the land of the living as we’ve known Jesus’ love, it is the stuff of our hope. Death is the doorway we are meant to hate, but a doorway none the less. A doorway taking us into brilliance, unencumbered creativity, splendid laughter, shameless relationship, the choicest meats and finest wine. If we listen carefully to our hearts, we know it to be true.
And we know it with pristine clarity when we grieve. We do not grieve as those who have no hope – but I am convinced that the presence of hope makes grieving more potent. I want to be with my brother and my dog; but even more I want to be where they are, in that place, seeing them in fullness. I can’t wait to be full myself, because Jesus knows I tire of being cranky and impatient. I want to know what it is like to be certain of my belovedness.
For everyone, grief is the invitation to savor the sanctity of every moment of this precious life.
Some dialogue from the novel Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel, captures this:
“To love is to lose. It’s just that simple. Maybe not today but someday. It is the inevitable condition of humanity. Some sadness has no remedy. Some sadness you can’t make better.”
“But then why isn’t everyone walking around miserable all the time?”
“Because ice cream still tastes good. And sunny and seventy-five is still a lovely day. And funny movies make you laugh, and work is sometimes fulfilling, and a beer with a friend is nice. And other people love you, too.
[Death] has been around since time immemorial. You’ve run up against it. And there’s no getting around or over it. You stop and build your life right there at the base of that wall. But it’s okay. That’s where everyone else is too.
Everyone else is either there or on their way. There is no other side, but there’s plenty of space there to build a life and plenty of company. Welcome to the wall.
Death really is the ‘grand leveler.’ There is no getting around it. And as much as I hate death, I really do love the heightened sense of life that comes in and around it. There is nothing as piercing as the days and hours around death.
If you’ve had the privilege of walking with someone you love up to that corridor, you know what it is to watch them struggling like an emerging butterfly in a chrysalis to make it through to the other side, to let go, to allow death to carry them into Life.
We just don’t want to say goodbye to the ice cream, laughter and movies. We just can’t imagine strongly enough that what waits for us – who waits for us – will make our greatest pleasures here seem like a shadow, a vapor, a dream in the mist.”
Your struggle, Ed, gives me hope as you have fought the good fight, you are finishing the race, and soon you will let go my friend and allow the one who is waiting for you, carry you into LIFE (again, she seems in a hurry to finish me off. Maybe I should go to Kenya next summer and surprise her).
He will make your greatest pleasures here like a dream and soon when you wake up, you too will be waiting for us. Thanks for walking the path with such courage. You are my hero. You make me want to be brave.
I’m her hero? I make her want to be brave? Go take your drugs, Patty.
She will be one of the “great ones” in the world to come, I’m certain. Heck, she already is in this one.
I thought you should know her and her greatness of spirit. Christ is strong in her.
Patty Meredith is in graduate school. I am playing with blocks in my crib.
P.S. Uh, I may have forgot to ask her permission to publish this. I’ll let you know after she calls to shout at me from Africa. I hope she will remember how fragile I am, with the cancer and all.