Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A life well lived

There is a song by One Republic that has been one of my “theme” songs during my cancer journey and beyond. It is called “I Lived.” I downloaded it on my running playlist and it pumps me up when my cadence is getting weak or I feel like stopping. Here is a portion of the lyrics:
Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad
The only way you can know is give it all you have
And I hope that you don't suffer but take the pain
Hope when the moment comes, you'll say...

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived

Hope that you spend your days, but they all add up
And when that sun goes down, hope you raise your cup
Oh, I wish that I could witness all your joy and all your pain
But until my moment comes, I'll say...

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I needed to play this song again this past week—over and over. I felt weak, numb, and tired. I was emotionally wiped out.  Because last week, on July 26, my precious friend Kelly took her last breath on earth. I know as a believer in Jesus Christ that she has a restored body and soul in heaven. I know that she has no more pain. I know with assurance that she is with her Maker God.  But I am sad. Really, really sad.

Kelly’s celebration of life was on Saturday. Her extended family did a beautiful job of celebrating the incredible woman she was and the amazing life she lived. I know we were supposed to celebrate her. I know we weren’t supposed to think of this as a morose funeral. I know we were supposed to focus on the joy of her acceptance into the arms of Christ. But I was sad. Really really sad. And through every remembrance, every story, every picture, every song-- I laughed, and I cried. Really really cried. Like blubbering crying. Like sobbing loudly and gulping in breath. Like feeling whole body numbness. Like making the nice lady sitting next to me ask if I needed a glass of water. (Yes, please I do).  At the end of Kelly’s service, her family played a video of her singing/playing on guitar one of her favorite songs….and then a montage of her sweetly lived life.  There was our Kelly—with her ball cap on her bald head, singing of hope, and joy, and life. It was such a perfect way to depict who she was and how she lived. She had one solid foundation—the Rock of Jesus—and she lived her life unwaveringly in light of that belief. She was dedicated to family and friends. She was fiercely determined. She was a woman of integrity—of the utmost integrity. She was a prankster, a sly wit, an encourager, a woman of wisdom and discernment. She was gentle, kind, and humble. She never wanted the spotlight, in fact, she fled from it. She was behind the scenes—always, and never wanted credit for anything she did. She was not a bold presence in an outward way, but she was bold and strong and silly and fun and hopeful to all who knew her. But this is not her eulogy—her family did a beautiful job of doing that—of sharing who she was.  These are just my thoughts—my way of processing a life and a death that has impacted me tremendously.

As I look back at Kelly’s service—it still is a bit of a blur. I remember sitting in my seat when the video ended and people were leaving, and I was still sobbing, and I couldn’t see, and I felt like I was glued to the chair. The kind lady next to me brought me water, my dear friend Mary took my hand, my husband hovered above me trying to get me to catch my breath, and I couldn’t make myself stop. I felt hot and sweaty and shaky and I was gasping for air and of course the control freak in me was trying to get myself to stop, but I couldn’t. Yes, I was having a full blown anxiety attack.  My head was in my lap and I felt a touch on my legs. It was my sweet Addison—one of “my girls”—I have watched her grow up since she was in fifth grade and now she is a senior in college. And then next to her was my sweet Molly—another of “my girls”—who I have known since she was fourteen and is now a junior in college.  I have spent many days and nights and camp weeks with these precious girls. They were alongside me during my cancer battle. They and their families lovingly prayed for me and took care of me during that time. And here they were—surrounding me with their touch, their very presence.  I felt like all the grief and pain and sadness that I have experienced for the past two years came pouring out at that moment in time. Like the floodgates opened and I couldn’t hold anything back.  I sat there surrounded by love in the flesh and these girls prayed for me. Girls who I discipled and mentored and taught were holding me up and praying for me. In all this sadness and in these ashes of pain, there was beauty and gladness and joy.

This is what I remember thinking through my tears. “She did it so well. Kelly lived so well.” Her life was too short, but she lived….and she loved with her all. Kelly lived with purpose and passion and joy and humility.  In one of her last journal entries she wrote that she had lived “the abundant life.” And oh how abundantly she did!

Pastor Jack read her favorite Bible verse during the service. It is one that I refer to often.  “This is my command: be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

This is how Kelly lived. She knew Who her Hope was in and she was strong and courageous because of that faith. I loved her and I learned from her. I am a better person because she was part of my life. I trust that the Lord Her God was and is with her, now and for eternity.

Kelly Zohn—August 18, 1960-July 26, 2015. 

1 comment:

Rose Irelan said...

This is so poignant Kristin. Thank you for sharing. Life is so precious. I love how your girls came to pray for you at the end. Many very valuable messages and lessons in this.