Early last month, a good writer friend from Chicago announced she was losing her longtime bout with metastatic breast cancer. She and I exchanged a couple of heartfelt good-bye e-mails, and just a week later she died.
Of the many ways Carrie’s faith and bravery have moved me over the years, her dedication to her two young children — described in her obituary as "an all-encompassing love" — left the deepest impression. She never, ever complained about her pain and suffering, or being robbed of her career and life’s pleasures. She only agonized that her children were having their mother taken from them.
Following her death, I’ve learned of the support and encouragement Carrie gave many fellow cancer victims in recent months. I am in awe of selfless people like her who love until it hurts, then love some more. They make me really reflect on what love is all about.
Carrie’s example has reminded me of my Christian obligation to love even when I don’t feel like it. This can potentially involve loving strangers, people who annoy me, folks who may seem downright unlovable. As age and wisdom have set in, I realize how much time I’ve wasted in my life clinging to hurts and slights, of being overcritical of those who veer from my perceived "right" way of living. That really gets in the way of loving others.
To me, Carrie’s is the kind of love that our "me-first" culture needs so badly to practice. Jesus commanded us to love one another and he showed us how, embracing tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes, the sick, the young and the elderly.
Loving is not always easy to do, but I need to do it anyway. Thanks, Carrie, for that reminder and being such a beautiful, loving soul.