I haven’t written in a bit, I guess you can say life stepped in.
My friend Joan has been ill with cancer for over a year. She had started getting better, but Joan’s fight spiraled out of control a month ago.
Joan was placed into hospice June 29th and her protective boyfriend limited all contact with her. I’ve never had an opportunity to say goodbye to loved ones before they made their transition, but this time I would. I guess I worried (or pestered) the boyfriend so that I received a text on July 2nd that simple read “Call now.”
He answered the phone by saying she had rededicated her life to Christ, and that she would not be able to respond to me. He proceeded to tell me what I should say to her, but that wasn’t necessary. How could he tell me what to say to my friend?? He put me on speaker and I said “Hi Joan!”
I had to pause tearfully. She responded! She knew who she was speaking to!! Quickly composing myself I told her I’d finished grad school, and that I was thankful for the joy she brought into my life. My other words are a blur, but I finished by telling her I loved her. Joan began crying and her boyfriend ended the call.
On Tuesday, July 8th while vacationing in Orlando I received word that Joan had died. My friend of 20 years would no longer be in my life. The void was immediately felt.
The family asked me to pay tribute to her at her funeral. This is what I said.
A little earlier I was introduced as her boss, and for a moment I forgot that I was. But in our office we all had a relationship where titles and rank did not matter. We were a team. Who worked together and loved one another. There are several of us here tonight.
She was hired to be the recruiting coordinator in our office in February 1994. Alumni in our community graduating from __________ between the years of 1994 and 2014 have jobs because of Joan’s efforts.
Joan was a person of joy, laughter, faith and wisdom. She always had stories to tell. Whether she was walking on a catwalk in her stiletto heels and pillbox hat during the New York blackout, marching with the Black Panthers, or fighting crazy raccoons who wanted to take over her garbage cans, Joan would leave us in stitches. Who can forget when the cell phone tower fell her in driveway and trapped her in the house! And of course she often talked about her beloved dog Shadow.
Joan loved her family. She always talked about her boys _____ and _____. You are her pride and joy. And when she became a grandma to _____ and _____ oh my goodness! Her eyes lit up when she talked about you. Your grandma would go out on her lunch hour to mail care packages to you.
Joan loved cooking. Her artichoke dip and her dipped pretzels were the best.
At work Joan was always playing music she loved Andrea Bocelli, Yanni and Cher. She’d play them over…and over…and over! She liked Elvis and had a thing for Jar Jar Binks from “Star Wars - The Phantom Menace.”
Joan loved her friends. V_____, M_____, G_____ and M_____. She loved all who came in contact with her. She loved her boyfriend R_____. R_____, Thank you for loving our Joan.
I've said the word a love a lot, because that is what defines Joan. Joan, our little flower, our lambchop. Joan is love. I was blessed to call her friend. I love you Momma Joan.
Later that evening I posted a final tribute to her in a different social media platform. I created a collage of her photos and added the following lyrics.
"And I know you're shining down on me from Heaven
Like so many friends we've lost along the way
And I know eventually we'll be together
One sweet day."~ Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men
But unlike the additional lyrics to the song, I did tell you all I wanted to say.
Question: Who needs to know that you love them?
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13 (Joan’s favorite Bible chapter).