We mark time by the events in our lives. Weddings, deaths, births, and graduations are the benchmarks of living. Some events are so cataclysmic that our before’s and after’s are worlds apart. For me, the death of my mother when I was fifteen was the first major before and after in my short life. Everything from that point on was measured by that loss. There was a period of time I felt no one else’s pain or suffering. The worst thing I could imagine had happened to me, and I simply felt nothing.
Other milestones in my life include leaving West Virginia and moving to South Carolina, adopting my children, moving from the coast of South Carolina to the upstate, and the different homes we lived in along the way. The year my dad lived with us, and his subsequent death, were defining moments. I changed in ways I never thought possible during that time.
The most recent marker in my life has its first anniversary on September 30,, 2020. My dear cousin and friend, Ruth, went to heaven after a very short illness. Our family was shocked and grief stricken at her passing. She was the connection to my maternal family. Ruth was loved deeply by everyone who knew her, as witnessed by the standing room only crowd at her home church who wept at the realization she was gone. The story of her sickness and death on our lips as if to say, “How did this happen?”
She was young and young at heart in the very best of ways. Her husband, children, grandchildren and extended family and friends loved her beyond words. She earned respect and honor as the Proverbs 31 woman exemplified. Her friendships spanned sixty plus years, an amazing quality in this day and time of throwing people away when they no longer meet our expectations.
The quality I loved about her most was her ability to love unconditionally. She was my go-to person. She listened to the details of my deepest wounds and fears when my world was falling apart, not just once, but twice. When my mom died, I gravitated to her kindness and loving arms. When my marriage was in deep trouble and I was going through a breakdown, she’s the one I ran to. She comforted me and shared godly wisdom with no condemnation. We laughed together and cried together and reminisced about our family until the late hours of the night. She made my visits an occasion with the best food, surrounded by her girls, and then later her granddaughters. Her husband, Emil, ventured into the dining room every little bit, smiling and shaking his head at our laughter and conversation. I will never forget those visits and the love that filled every nook and cranny of her home.
My heart aches for her family. Our loss was palpable at the recent wedding of one of her granddaughters. Her picture adorned a memory table, her presence felt among us. Her husband, children, grandchildren, and great-granddaughter are in my thoughts and prayers as they mark the date of their before and after. We have the blessed hope of seeing her again one day, along with the rest of our family who have already entered glory.
Ruth, you were loved as well as you loved. The light dimmed in our world when you left, but the life you lived will never dim in our memories. Until we meet again…