A coworker of mine passed away last week at a young 51 years of age. I didn’t get to know her as much as I would have liked, as my position as a reporter was to cover for her while she underwent treatment after a recent cancer diagnosis. For most of my time there, she was on medical leave. But I did have several months during my internship at the paper that she was still there, and weeks here and there when she would be between treatments. Here is what I know about Teresa.
She was helpful. She would often ask if there was any way she could help me, regardless of the work she had to do.
She always smiled. Regardless of her own struggles. Regardless of cancer and divorce occuring simultaneously. She smiled.
She was a hard worker. She took her job seriously and it was obvious she loved what she did.
She loved her daughter. She spent time with her, and on her daughter’s days off from school, she would sometimes bring her to work with her.
She was a classy lady.
I wish I had more time to know her.
After her funeral, a few of us from the paper decided to have lunch together. It was good. During conversation, a friend said to us that when she passes away, “If you are still around, please say something about me at my service, or I will haunt you.” There wasn’t much said about Teresa during her service. It’s possible that it is just the way things are done in the Lutheran church. But it left me feeling like Teresa didn’t get quite the “send off” that she deserved.
I have written what I thought about Teresa. I would have loved to hear what others had to say about her.
I’ve thought a lot about death this week. First with Teresa dying, and then I was listening to a series of sermons about what happens when we die. Great podcasts, and they had me thinking. The pastor mentioned funerals he had led over the years, and that he had, at times, been asked to do funerals for people he didn’t know well. During times like this, he would ask the family members to tell a little about the person who died – something they were passionate about, what meant a lot to them. He said once there was a man who died, and as he talked to the family, he asked them the same question. The room was silent, and finally the recently departed’s mom said, “He loved hats. He had the best hat collection.”
Sad that after his entire life, hats are all they could muster.
It got me thinking, what would people say about me? At my service, as my coworkers, family, and friends get together for a few minutes to say goodbye, what would be said about me?
I know the things I hope would be said. But are the things I think I feel are important to me, really important enough in my life that other people would notice? Man, I hope so.
During our lunch after the service, one friend mentioned how he hates when people use funerals to try to get people saved. (It didn’t happen at this service, just something we talked about in conversation). He said he gets it, just that it isn’t the time or the place. I understand why he feels that way.
And I also understand why it is done. There are times that people will only be in a church for a funeral, and no other time. Maybe that will be the only time someone can tell that person how much God loves them. But it did get me thinking, and while I hope that good can somehow come from my death, I hope more good can come from my life. I hope people I know and am around will see Jesus in my life. That they will want it too, becuase I really want it for them. Life is so much better with Him. Peace, love, courage, forgiveness, hope – a whole bunch of stuff that God gives that doesn’t come from anywhere else.
I really would love for someone at my service to say, “She was a girl who loved Jesus. She was a girl who loved people like Jesus did.”
I know I have far to go for this to be said of me, but it’s my goal.
2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.