a friend passed

Last night, a remarkable young wife and mother passed away after a 10-month battle with cancer. Her daughter will turn a year next week. 

You know how a community recalls the best qualities of a person after they have passed, but many times, these recollections are a bit hyperbolized? Perhaps giving more grace to a person than he or she ever exhibited in life? Harsh for me to point out, perhaps, but we all see it.

The positive recollections I've heard in the past few hours accurately describe the girl. No inflation. It humbles me. I met her when she was in high school and I in college. Only in the last 2 years did I see her more regularly until she moved back to the area before her daughter was born. She would call, facebook, email, and send me cards to keep up to date. 

Most of you don't know her, of course, but on this Tuesday morning, it may bode well for us to consider how such qualities can be prominent in a woman in great suffering, encouraging us to rise to the occasion in the absence of suffering.

Rachel was grateful. Though it caused her excruciating pain to get up from the bed her last weeks when she would return to it, she would thank her mother-in-law for helping her do so. She thanked us for every meal, card, errand. She loved her daughter. Until she was no longer able, she would force herself to walk, hunched over in pain, to where her daughter was seated in order to help feed her a spoonful or two. Each night, they would gather they're little family together and close the day in prayer. Simply but effectively. She retained her sense of "the other". Though she lay dying, she said, sincerely, "Poor Matt," upon seeing her husband work through a fever and other flu symptoms to be by her side. She was a fortress. I saw her last on Saturday and could not, for the life of me, see any pain in her expressions, movements, and utterances, yet her mother-in-law (a dear friend and nurse) explained to me that Rachel was actually in agony. She was faithful. I know having religious faith is often chided but it defined her in a joyful, trusting, and alert way. I see it as pure virtue to hold a joyful faith in the midst of great, unjust suffering. She never complained. Nope, not joking. Not exaggerating. She really wouldn't complain. How does a person who has everything to lose and a very young body with which to feel it not express indignation, anger, or a "woe is me" moment? I've been complaining about how tired I am, taking care of my healthy baby, with my healthy body, in a healthy home. Sheesh. She was stubborn and persistent and simply wouldn't give in until the very end.

During the Saturday visit, she asked to hold Cormac. To be blunt, this young woman looked like the product of extreme starvation. I couldn't imagine how she could desire to hold him, but she did. And then she asked to have her picture taken with him. I was so honored. I learned last night that she avoided most other photos.

These are my last two days home on maternity leave. My last two with my dear son before I must share my life with other non-family commitments. Little Cormac is sleeping off an upset belly next to me as I write, mouth hanging open a bit, arms splayed out to the sides. Not to sound too cheesy, but this time with him really is precious.

Rachel is the sort of person you sense changed things. So I'm going to let her continue to change me for the better. Spend this special time with my son, love my husband, and thank God that I can.



  1. So sorry that a good friend is now gone.
    -Amy D

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. Rachel sounds like an amazing woman.


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