This is My "Real" Blog: October 2010

Angie's Blog!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sometimes You Just Don't Wanna. . .

That's been me and my on-again/off-again relationship with blogging. Sometimes I just don't want to do it.

It's been hard - coming up with things to say - that didn't center around Beth. And, honestly, when I think about her now -- I still mourn, but I'm also rejoicing. It's been just over three weeks since she got to meet Jesus face to face. And, if I'm honest, I'm a little jealous.

Please don't get me wrong -- I have lots of things here (on earth) that I still want to do. Not necessarily a bucket list, mind you. . .but there are things that I want to see and do and experience before I leave the earth.

And, deep down, I'm starting to get that feeling that I think you get when you realize that the things of this earth are just that: things of this earth. And, to be quite honest, some of the "things of this earth" are really starting to get on my nerves. What are some of those things? Well, let's see. . .

1) Charlie Sheen & Lindsey Lohan (feel free to insert any male/female actor or performer that is in the news more for the crap they put into their bodies than for any actual God-given talent(s) they might pretend to possess)

2) Election Years. (Do I really need to say more?)

3) Gray hair.

4) Achievement test scores for kids.

5) Cancer. (Add Alzheimer's to the list, too)

6) Halloween. Not a big fan.

7) Senseless arguments over stuff that doesn't matter.

8) Tissues with lotion and/or the Vicks Vapo-Rub stuff on them.

9) Alarm Clocks. (Feel free to add watches, calendars, day-planners, and bathroom scales)

10) Telemarketing calls.

The irony here is that I used to be a telemarketer -- at one time, I sold vinyl siding, cabinet refacing & replacement windows. Another job had me setting appointments for Olan Mills. So, you'd think I would be more sympathetic.

I'm not.

What would I miss? Oh, I think that's pretty obvious, isn't it?

I'd miss them both - but the one on the left has completely captured my heart.

I think you knew these two were next, didn't you?

There's still a lot of life left to live (if God wills it so). And, I've decided that I'm going to live it -- doggone it! There are things that I need to do that I've put off, and shouldn't have. (Refer back to #9 on my list) There are people to hug. Places to visit. Fences to mend.

And today. . . I've decided that living it out to the fullest is the best way to honor those who have gone before us.

What about you? What are you going to do?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Letter

The following letter is one I wrote for Beth's family after she passed away. I gave them the option of reading it at her memorial service, or just reading it among the family. I got a quick note from Tony, her husband, and I *think* they read it during the service.

I wanted to post it here -- because it's a tribute to a remarkable woman. A mentor. A friend. A mother. A wife.

Here it is. . . It's torture to post it and not "re-edit" it. So, I'm going to change the font, type color, and leave it at that. (Really, I am!)

Dear Tony, Florence, Jenni, Melinda, Mary, Katherine, Emily and Hannah. . . .

How I wish I could be with you today. My heart, for the last four years, has longed to visit Thunder Bay where I could experience the phenomenon that was Valerie Beth Cain. What a lifeforce!

Over the past couple weeks, I struggled with the fact that I’d one day write this letter. I anguished over finding the right words. How would I describe Beth? How in the world would I be able to express my feelings? I concluded that the only way to “sum up” my friendship with Beth would be to talk about her names. . .

Wife – I will always cherish her descriptions of you, Tony. I loved the way she would write about songs you had written. . . your expressions of praise to God were always such a source of joy for her. And, her brilliant way with words always made us feel like we were part of your precious relationship – even though we were miles away.

Daughter – Her love and admiration for you, Florence, truly inspired me. She worried about you. She respected and revered you. She admired you. She celebrated you. And, her memories and stories of her childhood always gave me such vivid images of life and joy. And, her love of hospitality and entertaining is something for which I know you are very proud.

Mommy – One of my favorite scrapbook layouts is the one where she tells about Melinda’s determination to call Beth “Mommy” for the rest of her life. She loved each one of you girls with all of her heart – you know that. She knew your strengths and celebrated them. She knew your weaknesses, and prayed diligently for you to overcome those weaknesses, and to learn more about your Heavenly Father through struggles and adversity. She was so very proud of you. To hear her talk (or write) about each one of you makes me feel like I already know you. I can tell each of you that over the past four years, when you were facing a struggle, she would write to me – sometimes with details, sometimes not – and ask me to pray for you. This was an honor. It will remain my honor to hold you before the Throne until the day I die. As a tribute to your mom, this is my promise.

Adopted Aunt – Sometime in 2006, she decided to become an “aunt” to my two children: Edison & Caroline. C*line, as she would call her – held a special place in her heart – in the same way Jenni holds a special place in my heart. Her immediate, strong, fierce love for my children absolutely blew me away. And, don’t get me started about the scrapbook layouts she created of Caroline. As we “adopted” each others’ children, the bond between us became even more like a sister relationship. I look forward to opportunities in the future, when I can tell Caroline about her “Auntie Beth,” who loved her without ever meeting her.

Prayer Warrior – Just yesterday, I realized how much I had come to rely on Beth as my prayer warrior, and how much she regarded me as her warrior. She held me up in prayer in 2008, as I faced the threat of cancer. Talk about tireless prayers. . . she never stopped. We went from “Plan A” to “Plan B” and she was committed to go to “Plan Z” if that was God’s will. That’s a prayer warrior. So, last month, when she called to tell me about the 3-6 month prognosis, she pleaded with me to “wrestle with God” on her behalf. Of course, I agreed. I’m not sure I lived up to her request, but I knew that her pleas for me to pray for her were genuine, and that I had an obligation to repeatedly go to the Throne on her behalf.

Friend – I have had friends pass away – but with Beth, I’m sure many people would agree, it was different. Beth was a friend like no other I’ve known. She somehow managed to get to know me in a very, very short time. After just a few months, I felt like I’d known her all my life. And after four years, she became the older sister I never had. Though I miss her with all of my heart, the fact that she is singing and dancing before in the very presence of God – celebrating the joy of her salvation, and enjoying the eternity we are all anticipating – well, I wouldn’t want to take that away from her. She has encouraged me – through her valiant fight and strong faith in the midst of utter pain & heartbreak – to emulate her. She has given all of us the most wonderful, courageous example of someone who fought the good fight and remained faithful to the very end.

Over the last four years, she made me promise a variety of things. I was to pray daily for the future spouse of my son. I was to continue to express myself artistically. I was to set the bar high for Caroline – and bring out the very best in her. And, in our last conversation, she made me promise not to let go of you girls. I promised her that I would not – and that is a promise that I will keep.

Jenni, Melinda, Mary, Katherine, Emily, and Hannah – I know you have aunts & uncles. You have cousins, friends, an amazing church family, and an extended, blended family that loves you. But now, I want you to remember, because of your precious, funny, wonderful mommy, you also have an aunt, uncle, and two cousins living in Tennessee that absolutely adore you. You are our family. We love you.

Angie, Mark, Edison, and Caroline (C*line)

. . .and as Forrest Gump would say: "That's about all I have to say about that."

(I love you, Beth!)


Friday, October 08, 2010

Remembering Beth

(Beth and her daughter, Melinda)

Earlier today, Beth went home to be with Jesus.

If you have read my blog at all, you would be familiar with my friend, Beth.

I originally wrote this blog entry a week and a half ago, but pulled it off because I wanted to be sensitive to Beth, and her family as she went through these last days. Here's what I wrote. . . with a bit of editing.

Last week - I started rereading some of her beautiful blog entries. Starting with the most recent, and working my way backwards. Somewhere around November of 2008, I decided to do some cross-reference checking to my blog. Not sure of when she started commenting on my blog, I kept digging.

My very first entry has her beautiful comments on it. . . and she became a frequent commenter on my blog (hitting nearly every entry) for the past four years.

I don't think she got to read this . . . and that's okay.

Beth fought bravely in a battle against cancer. Last fall, she was diagnosed with cancer - a very aggressive cancer in her salivary glands and throat. Doctors decided to think "outside the box" for her treatment.

I remember getting a phone call from her last December, while doing some Christmas shopping - where she was so very excited about their non-textbook approach. It was a difficult conversation to have -- malls tend to be noisy places. But, it was encouraging, nonetheless.

Time has passed. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments helped to shrink the original tumor -- she named him "Ignace," or "Iggy" for short. And, although there was a definite decrease in Iggy's size, the aggressiveness of this particular cancer reared back and went into her liver, lungs, and bones. And today, she was allowed to rest in the arms of Jesus.

Cancer may have won this battle. But, Beth is going to win the war!!!

In the next couple of days, I will write a letter to be read at her memorial service. (Actually, I'm actually now looking at the possibility of going up to Canada for the service) But, I've never done anything like this before. As I told my dad on the phone, I have learned that friends have died. . . but Beth is the first close friend that I've lost.

. . . and I'm coming to grips with the fact that as I get older, it's going to happen more and more.

I've been shedding quite a few tears lately. Among laughter and smiles, tears flow quite freely. And yes, there are many reasons for those tears.

I am weeping for her husband, and her six beautiful daughters.

I am crying for her mother, who has lived with her the past couple of years -- and had to watch her daughter suffer from this horrible disease.

I am weeping on behalf of friends and neighbors that love her dearly -- children that she has adopted as her nieces and nephews (two of them are my kids) -- just because they are.

And yes, I am mourning for me.

I have lost a friend. . . a friend that I feel like I have known all of my life.

This friend was someone. . . .

. . .to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude
. . .that wasn't afraid to ask me to do serious spiritual battle on her behalf
. . .that loved my children like they were her own flesh and blood
. . .who disagreed with me politically, but loved me in spite of it
. . .who valued and celebrated my artistic abilities
. . .I have never got to meet in person.

But we have two serious reunions planned. One, this Spring, when Caroline & I meet Beth's daughters in person.

The other -- when Beth and I are united in heaven.

And although that may always be one of my life's regrets -- never meeting her in person -- I will cherish every word that we exchanged. I have saved blog entries, emails, comments, facebook exchanges, and scrapbook layouts that she lovingly created. I will read them again and again and again. . .

and I will not be the same person I was four years ago.

  • I will be a better friend.
  • I will become a more devoted wife.
  • I will encourage and challenge my children in new ways.
  • I will develop my inner voice--and write the words God puts on my heart.

And yes, for her and those precious girls I love so much, I will learn to love Chris Tomlin's song, God of this City. Up until now, it has not been on my top-five list of songs. I'm not sure why I initially rejected it. Maybe because I couldn't get beyond the fact that I don't live in an actual "city" per se.

But it became Beth's cancer song and now, when I listen to it - I will see the greater things that were to be done through her battle. I will rejoice in the greater things that God is going to do through her girls -- and through her husband of so very few years. I will see how she glorified God - up until today.

And as the song says, I will declare that:

You’re the Light in this darkness
You’re the Hope to the hopeless
You’re the Peace to the restless
There is no one like our God

I love you desperately, Beth. I will keep the promise I made to you -- I will not let go of your girls. I promise.