So although Pete and Sandy were over fifteen years older than us, we'd visit in each others homes and have both fun and spiritual conversations while we watched our babies play and grow together. When they both turned four I babysat Matt on weekdays in our home while Pete and Sandy worked and Naomi felt as though she had both a close friend and a brother.
Years flew by (as they do) and we moved to Nevada where Pete, Sandy and Matt visited us sometimes. And each time we traveled back to California to see Tom's family we'd stay overnight with the Martins. Sandy's strongest gift was hospitality and being a mom to all and always, she (and Pete) welcomed us to their home, to their guest rooms (and backyard parties and Bible studies), with opened arms. Even when we later moved to New York we'd visit our California relatives on vacations during daytime hours, but spend the nights with the Martins, talking, receiving wisdom from them, laughing, watching our children grow.
Matt and Naomi grew into adults (as children will) and at 22, Naomi went through a sad time so I phoned Sandy and asked if we could fly Naomi out there for a few days. Sandy acted thrilled at the prospect (which would involve a 2-hour drive to the Reno Airport), as though we were doing her a favor.
The Martins retired to a lovely, many-windowed home on a mountain-top in Oregon. We visited them there as they were getting settled on our way from the airport to my dad's memorial service in 2007. With incredible Swiss-like views from their windows we caught-up during a visit lasting just under 24 hours. We loved hearing their plans to offer their home as a retreat for pastors who were burned-out and our good-bye's, as always, were sad. You never know when you'll see good friends again who live across the whole United States.
I continued to send emails and Christmas cards after that good-bye, called them, too, as soon as we moved to our farm and invited them to come see us (they'd visited our suburb home around 1998). But after our 2007 visit we heard from them only a couple times, though that wasn't too unusual since Sandy didn't enjoy emailing like I do.
Then finally I heard from her two weeks ago with shocking news. Back in 2008 her doctors had given her 6 months to live. She gave no other details other than to say here she was 2 1/2 years later, still hanging in there and listening to good Christian teaching and staying positive. She'd been through hard times, but was feeling better.
At first I was sad that we hadn't known this sooner, but as I wrote back to her, if God had asked her not to tell us, then I could understand that. He's asked me to do plenty of wild things through the years.
Then last night we heard from Matt's young wife that Sandy passed away early Friday morning.
Oh dear. It's so hard to lose old friends! At these times, I realize how entwined our lives, our entire histories, are with others. How connected we become. We're still reeling, but grateful for the warning email Sandy sent two weeks ago, for this would be too great a shock without her words. I kept waking last night picturing Sandy in Heaven, having the time of her life dancing with Jesus and being reunited with her mom and other old friends in all that bright heavenly light.
Yet I kept picturing Pete and his three adult children and their families without the woman who loved them with all her heart, too. The woman whose greatest joys, truly, were God and family. Pete without Sandy? It's hard for me to imagine such a thing.
Well anyway, I just wanted to share Sandy with you and to ask for your prayers for all of us who loved her and will miss her even as the years fly by.
Thank-you so much.