My friend of 25 years died this past week. She was an ardent lover of life, of family, of her friends , of animals,..and of Christmas.
When I attended her "Celebration of Life" yesterday, it seemed so perfect to walk into the church sanctuary and see it beautifully lit up with Christmas lights, a Christmas tree, a velvet Santa and paper snowflakes and wreathes.
The setting and scenes were just lovely, the paper snowflakes were for us to jot down a memory we had of Sheila. So many memories flooded in as I thought of her that I had to select the least cut out of the snowflakes in order to fit them all in!
Years and years of raising our children along with all of the activities of our little country elementary school, our kids Jr. High and Middle Schools, and then High School where I now learned she had been a member of the very first graduating class.
I knew that she showed ponies, beautiful little ponies that pulled old fashioned little carts in competition. I knew that she always had more cats and always a dog, than anyone I knew. I knew she loved her own four children more than life itself. I knew that quite simply..Sheila was filled with love. Love of life, of family, of faith in a universal and divine spirit, of friends, and of those she held so closely to her heart.
And she proved it, by leaving this life far, far too soon, but surrounded, completely surrounded by that love, by that faith, by her family and some of her closest friends in her heart.
Sheila was 67 and Sheila was diagnosed with ALS...Lou Gerig's disease late last year. She didn't live long enough in this life, and she lived far too short of it with this disease....something that most of us would find reasons to be grateful for considering the horrors of living with, much less dying from ALS.
But Sheila loved life, and was so filled with it, that I know that no matter how bad it got, she still was grateful for the time she had with her four children, her ten grandchildren, and her closest of friends. And I know that she was filled with the Christmas spirit in all ways. The lights, the tree, the Santa, the snowflakes, the people all gathered in memory in the sacredness of a holy place brought it all full circle.
Her wishes for her family, for her friends, for all of us and mine for you, are the wishes we always share, always say. But ones that need to be repeated over and over, for we forget, we take others for granted, we don't live life as fully and with the joy that we could. We get stuck in our patterns, our habits, our wantings and our needings and our busy, busy doings. We forget to share, to give, to be with those we care most about.
"Love one another, be kind, always stay together and be there for one another." Promising our loved ones that "I will always be with you, and around you, and in you, for you are all a part of me and of my heart."
Those thoughts, those words ring out in my own heart. I breathe them, I live them, I hold them in and give them out. But most of all, I share them. For my hope and my prayer is that by her sharing, by my sharing, by the sharing of all of us who understand just how short this lifetime really is and that there will never, ever be enough time to say, and do, and be the true things we want and need to be..that maybe just maybe, you'll feel them, hear them and practice them in each and every day of your own lives.
I will never forget you, Sheila, never forget out times together or how you carried the joy of the Christmas season always in your heart. Giving, sharing, lighting up with joy and music and dance. I'll miss you as we all will, but we will never forget. God Speed on this new journey, and may you always dream as we all did listening to your favorites songs of a "White Christmas."
Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares her creative and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Wildcrafting and the textiles arts... sewing, quilting, and creating prayer flags. Join me as I add my healing energies to changing our world..one little project, one gift of sharing from my heart, at a time.