This weekend as Jeff and I were eating lunch out, I noticed a little boy about three years old politely asking his Daddy for some of the whipped cream from his dessert. The father had laughing eyes, was gentle and kind, and put a dob of the whipped cream on the boy’s nose. Behind them sat an older woman with a cute knit hat on her bald little head. She was giggling about something her table mate said. The milieu brought to mind my friend Bethany, who recently left behind a similarly laughing-eyed husband and sweet son, and wore her share of cute knit hats as she lived life with cancer.
Bethany passed away on Friday. Now I imagine all those sad little hats lying there unworn.
Grief. There is that. But it is more than that. It is pure emotion. It is joy that she is with Jesus. It is relief that her suffering is over. It is anger and rebellion and disbelief that she is no longer with us. This woman was loved. Really loved. Just like the Velveteen Rabbit, she had her hair loved off. Yet she was beautiful. And we were more beautiful for knowing her—for we understand in a way that we may never have before what is important in life. And it is not hair or clothes or houses or cars.
It is family and friends and moments, small and large, that make up a simple day. It is laughing and crying with people who understand you without saying a word. It is the shared joke, the thoughtful gesture, the text that says, “I’m thinking of you.” It is the rubbing along together in a world that can beat us up and wear us down, but never break us apart. It is becoming real with people who you know are praying for you and for whom you pray. It is love that is so true and pure and deep that this world cannot contain it.
That is what is important. And that is who Bethany was.
I am grateful to have been even a tiny part of her journey.
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.
1 John 3:16