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friend, family


In the past few weeks, I have been in contact with the daughter of a dear friend from my past. It was a totally unexpected contact that lifted my spirits and made me want to tell everyone! Until I remembered that no one locally knows this friend!

For many of our years in Jamaica, Miriam lived on campus with us, our babies and soon-coming infants. She and Jeff arrived a semester after we did. They were from Canada. Our Dawn was finally not alone as the only baby on campus. (There were other older children.)       stop

We got into a routine. I like routine, but Miriam liked routine even more than I did!

Before long, we got into the habit of meeting most mornings for tea. The girls would play together. It would usually be mid-morning after some of our morning tasks were done. We discussed all kinds of things including child raising, marriage, hopes and dreams for our daughters as well as how our faith affected our lives as missionaries, to name a few. (For more on this part of our story, see here.)

Before long, we got into the habit of meeting most mornings for tea. The girls would play together. Click To Tweet

During what turned out to be our last year in Jamaica, they moved to Kingston and worked with a group of professional families who were new believers, discipling them in their faith. We continued at the Bible College and ended up living off campus so a Jamaican couple could live on campus and start working on staff.

As it turned out, that was the last year the government was going to allow us to live there. They didn’t renew our work permits for another year, so most of the American staff working there, had to return to the U.S. in May 1977. But that is a story for another day.

Our story as neighbors ended in 1977. From then on, we kept up by mail.

Jeff and Miriam and their 2 girls returned to Canada. We stayed in FL for quite a few years. It wasn’t long after Miriam returned to Canada…I’m guessing a couple of years, that we got news that she had found a lump in her breast. It was very small and very early, but it turned out to have been a virulent cancer.

Fortunately, she was able to be treated for quite a few years, with oral chemotherapy. When I heard of her diagnosis, I feared that her girls would be motherless at a young age. (I am not always optimistic when it comes to cancer.)

But each year, once or twice a year, I would hear from Miriam, and she would say she was doing well, working some, and taking oral meds. I was so relieved.

The cancer returned. Before long, she was gone. Our families lost touch.

Then one year, I got news that her cancer was back. Her oldest daughter had married, had a child and the younger daughter was at university and getting ready for her own wedding. Miriam had had what they thought was gall bladder trouble and after the wedding, she was scheduled for tests to check it out. It turned out the cancer was back and spreading. Sometime during that year, they traveled to TX to visit family in Waco and we went down to see them. (I’m bad with dates!) I’m glad we did. Miriam looked good. I cried more than I wanted to. I wanted to be brave. It was great seeing her again. It had been years since our Jamaica days!

I was pretty certain that we wouldn’t see Miriam again this side of heaven. I was right. I’m not sure how long it was after that, but within the year, Miriam was gone.

We didn’t have facebook or much of email back then. It was much more difficult to keep up with friends. Besides, Jeff was not the family letter writer, Miriam was. Keeping up was difficult for sure.

They had changes and so did we. I had 4 years around that time when my health was pretty lousy. I didn’t keep up with much of anything.

As it turned out, over the years, they moved from Calgary to the Vancouver area. Once I was on facebook, etc. I tried to find them. But I couldn’t.

I heard that Jeff remarried…and was so happy for him. But in the last few weeks, I heard from his oldest daughter and got caught up on the last few years of their lives. We’re still in touch…I owe her a note.

Yes, I’m sad that my friend Miriam is gone, but I’m glad that her children are doing well…and with children of their own now. I’m glad to hear Jeff is remarried and happily so for a long time now. That is always good news.

Over time, the pain eases and we learn to live with it...then we carve out a joyful life around it. Click To Tweet

Do they still feel a loss from their mom being gone after all this time? Yes. But not in the way it once was. That is the comfort we all have in times of loss. Over time, the pain eases and we learn to live with it…and we carve out a joyful life around it.

And the Lord will guide you continually
    and satisfy your desire in scorched places
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters do not fail.

Isaiah 58:11