Kindred Spirits: Cristy’s Story, Part 2

So many fun and sweet times were made during that time of life. Kara fought to live with so much passion and purpose. She never wasted time. She never let her sickness keep her from enjoying her family and friends.

Last summer was so much fun. We spent so many days at our community pool, enjoying our kids enjoy each other. I think all of Kara’s friends felt like we could enjoy this for a while. Sure she was sick, weaker than usual, and never free from the stupid cancer, but she was fighting it and fighting to do life well. I thought we had several more years of this kind of living with cancer.

Reality came crashing down on all of us—family members, close friends, and blog reader friends alike—in the first part of December when Kara was hospitalized. One of the nights she spent there, I was able to spend it with her. All I wanted to do was crawl in bed with her, snuggle up to her, and never leave her side (by the way, that is how I felt for the duration of her time here on earth). It was a treasured time, but it was an incredibly difficult time. When you hear your friend cry out in pain that no drug can touch and she asks you to massage her “cancer leg,” that’s hard. But you would never dream of not being there by her side.

Jason loved his wife well during her battle. He was patient and doting. Their love will go down in history; at least it should. They were completely devoted to one another. They strived to be kind to each other “through sickness and in health.” And that’s exactly what they did. It is written in the Bible that marriage is “a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one,” and Jason and Kara proved this to be true. Their marriage was a powerful testimony of God’s amazing, sacrificial love.

I got to visit Kara the Wednesday before she went to Heaven. What a treat it was to be with her that evening. She was struggling to talk, keep her eyes open. She was struggling to breathe. But she was still Kara, full of wit and fun. She was a delight to be with that night. Did you see what I just wrote? The woman who was afraid of cancer and what it would do to her friend was able to be by Kara’s side even in the last moments and delight in her frail friend. Cancer did not win in so many ways.

While I sat with her that evening, Kara’s phone alarm went off. She slowly looked at it. I could see the screen: it said, “Jason’s future.” Then she spoke a simple prayer for Jason’s future. She had set her phone to remind her throughout the day to pray for her family. As I listened to her sweet, short conversation with the Lord, I realized I had come to the same conclusion as Jason: this amazing wife truly was amazing. She loved Jason so well, as he loved her. Their devoted, resilient love will always be what they both taught me the most. Jim and I are blessed to have seen them in action.

I miss Kara so much. I miss her texts, her marriage advice, her irreverent humor, seeing her talk out the side of her mouth, her “hey mama”s, having her dinners at her big ol’ table, sipping coffee with her while she sat in her comfy chair, enjoying our kids together and discussing how we can love them better. I just miss her. We all miss her. We miss her words. Her words were like a balm to our souls, weren’t they? It is terribly hard to see Jason and the kids do life without her. Again, my temptation and longing is to fast forward through this time of grief and heartache to an easier time. But I cannot, and when I remember the grace that has met me in the hardest times over the last few years, I realize that grace will meet me again and again in my grief until I am reunited with Kara and face to face with Grace Himself.

In the meantime, life continues without Kara but not without her influence and love; she recorded this before going to Heaven in anticipation of my 40th birthday last month. What a gift of grace for my heart that misses my friend so deeply. I pray and hope it blesses you to see her and hear her voice, full of joy and love.