Of course, sometimes when you research the towns or people from your past, you discover things you'd rather not have known.
See, when I moved to Quaint Mountain Town (let's call it) at age 17, a young couple in our church had just gotten married. Kris, at only 18, was the bubbliest, hardest-working, most-fun young woman I'd met. After I left for college one year later, this couple became the youth leaders, breathing new life into this tiny church. After college, I lived in QMT another ten years, attended a different church, but I'd occasionally see Kris at the supermarket with two babies in tow. Always, she blessed me by her joy and vitality.
When I was 29, Tom, Naomi and I moved away from QMT and though we'd revisit, I never did see Kris again.
Fast forward to yesterday. Still being on this 'lets-research-QMT's-people' kick, I found two articles from 2006 about Kris, who had, in 1997, moved to Oregon with her husband and family.
One of those articles was her obituary.
Gah. She'd moved to a small Oregon town just two years before and already made a difference there--in both articles, the mayor, herself, praised Kris. For many years she worked with deaf children, teaching them to speak, helping their parents communicate with them. She also worked side by side with her husband in his construction business, helping to restore an ancient building in her new town.
Kris was still blessing folks 30 years later, even organizing the town's annual quilt show--but the day before the show--she was rushed to the hospital where she died from complications of lupus. She was only 48.
And well, it's hard to shake this. But you know? The sadness of this discovery confirms what I've been feeling lately, namely: Always live ready to die. Always pay attention to how you live your days.
Do today whatever God asks.
Send that email to the friend who you've not heard from lately.
Take that 'law of kindness upon her tongue' thing seriously.
Treat your pets well.
Faithfully use your specific gifts/talents/abilities.
Meditate upon what's right in this world, not what's wrong. Spread way more good news than bad.
Send a message to that Facebook friend who used to post often, but now never does.
Share books. Food. Money. Encouragement. Ideas. Laughter. Help.
Tell people you appreciate them. Smile and nod at strangers. Open doors for them.
Take good care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally.
Give yourself time to heal. From anything.
Complete what you start in a timely manner.
Keep nothing you no longer need/want/like/water.
And love God more than you love anything or anyone else.
Always live ready to bid farewell to everyone you know, just in case your days are suddenly cut short. Let the people you leave behind be comforted that you lived well. How we lived upon this world will have a bearing upon the next one. I truly believe that.
"She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction]." ... Proverbs 31:26
"... whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." ... Philippians 4:8,9
Live a complete life, not a partial one.