On Saturday, I officiated at a memorial service for a beloved saint of the church. She had been fighting a rare kind of bone cancer for over six years. She was very involved in the church before my time, but when I met her, she was dealing with her disease.
I loved her.
She was one of the most matter of fact, clear, determined, low key extraordinary persons I have ever met. She was selfless, and never complained. Her calling in life, was "kids." She loved children, had a day care, worked in the nursery, children's choir, she fostered children and had three of of her own. Even in the past years, after her was amputated, and she was traveling to and from NYC for a clinical trial, whenever there was a baby shower at church, she sent the new baby a present (and one for the older sibling, if applicable.) Amazing.
Her marriage was, and is a love affair. A love affair. That's the only way to describe it.
What I loved about A. is that she wanted everything to be about love. Her memorial was saturated with love, as her life was. Whenever she signed an email, it was always, "Love, A." I thought about that for awhile, and although I know it might be unconventional, I started signing my emails with "Love, Karla". Not all of them, but many of them. Even my church emails.
You see, I think it is important--and I learned this from Angela--to express love whenever we can. Obviously the world needs this love energy. And, as a pastor, I think it is important that my congregation knows that I love them--and that they are beloved. Because I do, and they are. I don't use the word "love" lightly--whenever I use it, it is intentional. I suspect, too, that Angela was incredibly intentional when she shared love.
Lastly, one of my last communiques with her was via texting. She asked me to pray for her big sweet giant poodles, Joey and Bella. They were stressed, as they knew something was up. She called me the best fairy dogmother. ;-) Bella is still forlorn and sad, and Joey is trying hard to engage Bella. You see, even animals grieve.
So, my mind has been on Angela throughout the weekend and into today. I am so, so grateful that she allowed me into her life, and allowed me to be a part of it. I am beyond thankful for the lessons in love that she gave me.
Rest well, dear Angela.