Sunday will mark one year since a friend I can only describe as effervescent left us. I can hardly believe it's been that long. On the one hand, it feels like this time last year was yesterday yet in other ways it feels as if it was a lifetime ago.
No one will ever replace Sha. No one could. She was a once in a lifetime type of friend who was not afraid to sit with you and walk with you during hard times. I have no doubt she would have reached out in March and April as we accompanied Dad during his final days. I imagine what she would have said or done at this time eight months ago. I sometimes wonder what she would say if she knew of the latest professional developments of working out of two grants and working on three separate book/chapter deals at the moment. I can almost hear her make a fuss over Charlotte Annie and "ooo and ahh" over her dancing as Charlotte would show off her latest dance moves during a video chat. Heck, she would probably even start dancing on her end of the call to go along with Charlotte's moves. ;)
When I think back to the last time Charlotte actually did video chat with Sha, it was when she chose her to call when she wanted to tell someone she was going potty. Sha completely rolled with it and was nonplussed when she answered the video chat to find a three year old sitting on the potty. She cheered and made Charlotte grin from ear to ear encouraging her to keep up the good work. The last time I had a video chat with Sha was when some of the students from Women's Ministry were sitting around my dining room table discussing the virtue of hope and the value of gracefully bearing suffering. We all immediately thought of Sha as we had all been in Austria together the previous semester. On a whim, I picked up the phone and on the spot called Sha. Propped up in a hospital bed, she smiled into the phone and greeted each student at the table, including a surprise visitor from Texas. We prayed over Sha via the video chat, some tears fell, and I, in advisor mode, said I would make plans to call Sha again very soon as I realized I needed to wrap up our call to stay on time for our Women's Ministry Book Study. That call and last encounter took place in late October which wound up being less than two months than 12/20/19.
It's been one year and 11 days since I received a message from Sha. The last two messages I sent her from California were not viewed by her but I have some small measure of comfort that the last message she saw from me during her last three days was letting her know she was being prayed for in a place she knew well.
As I recently scrolled through the memories and What's App conversations with Sha as I mourn, I'm still amazed at her selflessness even amidst the suffering as is evident by her willingness to not shut off from the world or to encourage me to open up and talk with her when she could tell I wasn't myself. Some of Sha's last messages to me involved her stepping out of her own despair and entering into mine. I mean, who does that?! I remember feeling so humbled that she cared enough to care about my problems when she had much bigger problems than I.
I strive to be the type of friend Sha was. She had a way of making you feel like you were the only one in the room even when sitting in a bustling coffeehouse. She had a way of always teaching through her actions/words/ways of living such as how to politely send a drink back even when the bartender is being rude and intimidating (ahem). Her honesty, vulnerability, and realness still resonate with me nearly two years after I first heard some of her testimony and stories and had the blessed opportunity to live in a centuries-old monastery at the foothill of the Alps. Sha once joked that even though I was only there for one semester that I would always be part of the "fam". So, tonight I invoke the intercession of the Holy Family as I think of Sha and her family.
Please keep Sha's family and loved ones in your prayers.
You will never be forgotten, Sha, and may we all strive to #lovelikeSha.