54. unbarbed

The world may be a poorer place today. A chunk of gravity is missing. A person who grounded others’ spirits and beliefs has died. Her name is Barb. Hers was a life well lived. How I even know her is a lovely bit of grace. Let me tell you, Blogdom, about this silvery woman.

Three or four years ago my wife was on her way to a ladies mentoring tea at our church. The intent of the meeting was to match up mentor women with mentee women. I pictured my accomplished wife as mentoring a 25 year old single mother of two, one of whom would have special needs. (My wife has that kind of heart and skillset.) Off she went on a Saturday afternoon, I think, hoping to be the person she needed when we were 25 and starting our family.

Later that day I asked how it went and with whom she was partnered. “Barb”, was her answer.

“Barb?” I questioned her. “Isn’t she the older woman in your Wednesday night group? She’s what? 75?”

“Yes”, my wife replied with a smile. “God told me to mentor her. And she told me He spoke the same thing to her. So that’s what we’re doing.”

We don’t argue with God in my family. So my wife and Barb began a friendship over the next few years. They spent time together and prayed. They shared their loving concerns about family and friends. And a funny thing happened. Other women with similar needs began to attach to Barb and my wife. Chris came along and loved Barb. Then Cindy, and I have no idea how Cindy got connected. Then my friend Candi met with them and pretty soon they had this thick bond based in prayer and love. Thursday night was the designated night for the group and they faithfully met…until Barb began to have trouble with her lungs. Why is it that just when you learn to love and trust and really get it going, something tragic seems to arise?

Well, no matter. The ladies just decided to meet at Barb’s house, since she needed to be on oxygen and had limited mobility. They adjusted and Barb became the physical center of the spiritual center. Sara (my lovely wife) always said how wise and deep Barb was. As Barb went from specialist to specialist, her prognosis just got worse and her life expectancy shorter. She needed a lung transplant but was not a good candidate for such a surgery. After that last hope expired, Barb went home and settled in to meet Death with dignity. She continued to meet with her prayer circle even though she was confined to a hospital bed and oxygen.

Last Monday she died after a long time of suffering, relieved here and there by morphine. Why did she linger and suffer?  Another older woman I know who is very familiar with death proposed this explanation. “She had given her life away and always been there for others. In her final days she reaped that same harvest of love.” I’m okay with that perspective. Why is it that just when you learn to love and trust and really get it going, something tragic happens? I suppose so that we are left wanting more, craving the crystalline moment of joy we once had.

Barb is most definitely in heaven today, checking out the many folks she loved and was loved by in life. If she’s not there, then I am cancelling my subscription.


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