No Notion of Loving People by Halves…

Edmund_Blair_Leighton_-_On_the_ThresholdLife. We take it for granted. I mean, I know we do when we’re young- there is nothing more invincible that a young person who hasn’t been touched by tragedy. When we’re young, we just don’t comprehend preciousness, we don’t understand the gifts we are given. Life is fleeting, fragile, uncertain- we don’t want it to be— we build fences all across the landscapes of experience to give us semblances of safety. But, we cannot dwell there. We cannot think about what might be; if we do so, we can be crippled, stunted, and ironically, miss out on our own lived experiences.

This weekend, I lost a dear friend. We all know tragedy happens. There are accidents, there are illnesses. But coming face to face with the brevity of life, with how quickly and utterly it can vanish— causes one to pause and reflect a bit.

Do you remember Little House? Little House was owned by a wonderful woman who became a dear friend, long before I ever lived there. She filled her kitchen with delicious baked goods, she threw tea-parties with a dress-code of wildly ornate hats, she made aprons for each holiday, and she might throw a dinner simply because it was Tuesday, and Tuesday should be fun. She made the most beautiful quilts, and that was how I came to know her— sewing tiny scraps of fabric into beautiful heirlooms.

She had married later in life, and while she hadn’t given birth to children herself, she had dozens of children in whose eyes she was beloved. Her wedding was a Regency celebration where Jane Austen would have been comfortable. I had the honor of making two of the flower-girl dresses for the wedding. When you were around her, you couldn’t help but be happy. Her jovial, hope-filled, and sometimes wickedly witty personality made most people instantly at ease. She was loved.

She had been fighting some health problems; pulled muscles and what she thought might be a kidney stone. Last week, she posted on Facebook that she’d been diagnosed with cancer. Last week. Her words were upbeat- she was ready to fight this and win. Her husband, who had just started a new job in a new city, was flying back to be with her.

Two days later, a family member posted that she was in a coma, and wasn’t expected to last the weekend. The next morning, she died.

All I keep thinking about is how much she didn’t get to say, didn’t get to do… quilts that are unfinished, words she would have wanted to give her loved ones, a legacy she would have wanted to leave behind. Mercifully, she didn’t suffer- that’s been the thread of hope most of us who love her have been able to grasp. She didn’t suffer. But oh God, I hope you really needed her home, because those of us here are going to miss her light more than we can express.

It really puts a fine point on the direction of our own lives when we lose someone we love so suddenly. For all of our plans, all of our ideas that we might get to someday… it’s trite and poets and artists have been trying to convey it forever: Someday might not come.

Go grab your loved ones and speak to their hearts. Say you’re sorry if you need to. Don’t waste a single precious moment of this golden, beautiful life on grudges, spite, or anything unholy. Embrace life with both arms and banish your fear. Create what you always wanted, and if you didn’t succeed the first time you tried, rewrite your story and make a new chapter. If there is something your soul yearns for, make the leap. Cease worrying. Take a deep breath, inhale and savor life in great, glorious gulps. It really is all we have. We’re all stories in the end… make it a good one.

I miss you, Betty. May the four winds blow you safely home.

10 thoughts on “No Notion of Loving People by Halves…

  1. Tracy what a wonderful tribute to a woman that is loved by so very many that were priveleged to have known her here on this earth.
    Her service yesterday was tender, fitting and very beautiful with many heartfelt expressions of love. I was extremely blessed to have been able to attend.

  2. Veronica, thank you. I would have dearly loved to have been there. I’m sure the service was remarkable. I think I’m still in a bit of shock. It took me days to compose this- I couldn’t get past the lump in my throat.

  3. What a beautiful tribute to wonderful women.
    You have a way with words my dear friend.
    I hope for you the remembrance of happy memories and laughter with Betty.

    Love you!

  4. Tracy, what a beautiful, loving, honoring of all that we love about Betty. A daughter of God who’s example will forever brighten our lives for having felt the loving hand and heart of our friend. I can’t remember ( I think it was Jeff) who said at her memorial service that the Lord’s coming must be near and he needed one awesome party planner so he chose Betty. Thank you for remembering our friend Betty in this way! Fondest Regards, Opal Morrison

  5. Thank you, Opal. That means a lot to me. I’m glad you got to talk to Jeff- I can’t believe how hard this has hit me. It’s a profound loss for all, and I have to hope that she’s overflowing with joy on the other side of the veil.

  6. What a tender and loving tribute. It reminds me of my dad. I miss him every day. He also had a way of seeing the joy and beauty in every day, of love and laughter, and of serving others.

  7. Tracey, this is Betty’s Mom. Last night as I lay in bed I was prompted to get up and get on your blog. I was under the impression that you had not been blogging for a while. I listened to the spirit and got up and scrolled through your blog and came to the tribute you wrote about Betty. It is so beautiful, I cannot thank you enough. It is helping me heal, as our plane was delayed five hrs we did not arrive in time to tell her goodbye. So thank you again for your beautiful words. I do not know if you were aware that Betty’s father passed away in November and she came and spent time with me helping through that . And also congratulations on your marriage, I can feel the happiness in your writings. Again, thank you for being such a good friend to her.

  8. Dottie, thank you so much for your kind words. Grieving takes such different pathways for each of us- I’m so sorry for the loss you’ve experienced. The world lost a great light in Betty, and we all miss her so much. I’m grateful my words were helpful in some small way.

  9. I don’t know you but I knew and loved Betty Folmar. Thank you for such a beautiful tribute to a lovely woman. I lived for many years in her home ward in Wheeling WV. Her parents were my “adopted” parents and “adopted” grandparents to my kids.

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