Untimely death changes my life
My friend Beth had a messy van.
I noted this fact with relief as she gave me a ride to a meeting of a community board on which we both served.
This was at least eight or nine years ago. We were both working women, community volunteers and the mothers of young children. The latter being the culprits when it came to the sippy cups and empty packages littering the van’s floor.
I was relieved to see this because it made me feel better about the state of my own vehicle. When I told Beth that, she laughed and told me neither one of us could possibly maintain impeccable homes and spotless vehicles while being good employees, volunteers and mothers.
She was right, and I left that afternoon feeling much better about myself and the world in general. I always felt that way after time spent with Beth. She saw the good in each person and in every situation and had the enviable skill of being able to bring those seeds of goodness, no matter how small, to the surface.
I met Beth 14 years ago when she moved to Washington County following her marriage. Our weddings were within weeks of one another, my two oldest children and her sons were born within months of each other, we served many years together on the Youth First and Washington County Family YMCA boards and she was my kids’ first 4-H leader; we were connected by a lot of threads.
Her death on Oct. 18, the result of a blood clot, was unfathomable. She was way too young — just 39 — and way too good to be taken so soon.
If you’re anything at all like me, you keep a list in your head of all the good things you’re going to do “one day.”
One day when you have the time.
One day when you make the time.
One day when you really start focusing on the good.
One day when you let go of the bottled up frustrations, anger and sadness that hold you back.
One day when you really start living your faith.
Beth’s untimely death brought me up short.
As I talked with mutual friends and followed the comments (there were hundreds) on social media in the days following her death, I was amazed at the extent of my friend’s goodness.
I knew what a wonderful person she was. And while all these glowing comments were being shared publicly because of her death, they were all things we clearly saw while she was alive. Beth did so many things to help others; I’d say very few people realized the true reach of her good deeds. She never, ever bragged.
Beth was a woman of deep faith, but she also struggled in this area. Having been raised Catholic, she attended a different denomination following her marriage.
This past summer, Beth was baptized by her stepdaughter. In true Beth fashion, she shared her faith journey in a video made by her church, Mount Tabor Christian Church. In doing so, she inspired us all to live our faith more fully.
I have said goodbye to many good people through the years. Beth’s death impacted me much differently than any other. As I pondered this throughout the week, I began to believe this was my road to Damascus moment.
The apostle Paul was blinded by light and heard God’s voice as he traveled the road to Damascus. He immediately ceased his persecution of Christians and devoted his life to God.
While my situation is certainly nowhere as dramatic, it has been life-changing all the same.
I am 12 years older than Beth. However, from very shortly after we became friends, she became who I wanted to be when I grew up. I shared this with my husband several times through the years.
Beth had a maturity and wisdom far beyond her years. I wanted to have her positive attitude, her deep faith, her energy and, most of all, her goodness and can-do spirit.
We know not the day nor the hour when our time on this earth will end. We all have a beginning and an ending. It’s what we do with the time in between that becomes our legacy.
Thank you, Beth, for your beautiful life. I only hope I can more fully follow your example. Today — not one day — is the day to start.