This past weekend we celebrated the life of a lovely woman of God. Her name was Carolynn and she was really something special. She wasn’t very tall, but I think her faith was huge. I knew her for 15 or 20 years as a member of our choir and women’s groups.
In her eulogies, they spoke of her love of her children and grandchildren, even children in general. She got a late in life teaching certificate and taught for a few years before her health problems got to be too much. She made a priority of attending her grandkid’s soccer games, even shortly after hospitalizations. And I guess you could say she loved adults too, since she was known to be one of the best church office volunteers ever.
In women’s group, she sometimes shared some of the things she had struggled through. She admitted she had negative “tapes” running in her head left over from a difficult childhood. Apparently at one point she had such severe depression that she entered an inpatient treatment program. And yet, by the time I knew her she was one of the most positive and upbeat people I ever met. She loved Jesus and knew He was walking with her, no matter what difficulty she might be facing. Somehow she had learned to give thanks in all things.
She was so unique that even her medical problems could not be treated locally. The first one I was aware of, required regular flights to a specialist in Denver. She would always come back with a good report of how helpful it was to visit a former pastor and his wife there, or how she felt a little down but God brought a song to her mind and lifted her spirits. At times she was able to encourage the other patients and staff there.
Oh how we celebrated when she finished her treatments there. She wanted to be home, near family, friends, her pets and her garden. A year or so later though, she developed cancer in the same leg. I don’t recall the type, but it was rare and aggressive. We all started praying for her and soon she flew off to Houston for treatments. She would come home and have further treatments which, on occasion, she reacted badly to. More than once, she was near death from a bad reaction, and we would pray and pray. Miraculously, she would recover.
Now that in itself built our faith. But when she came back to us she would tell us of what she was thinking and feeling while in a coma. Always it seemed to come around to how Jesus was with her and helping her through this latest difficulty. She had many painful treatments at one point, but she rarely complained. But oh how she would praise the Lord when she got to where she could once again get around without a wheelchair or walker. At one point she was praising Him because she was able to clean her own house for the first time in ages.
We celebrated her 5th year of survival of the original cancer, which often kills those who get it in a much shorter time frame. They never could say she was cancer free, but she was certainly a long term survivor. Along the way, she developed various other ailments, often obscure ones. We always said she was just special. At one point in recent years she came and said she had been diagnosed with lupus. Wouldn’t you know, she found something to be thankful for in that as well. She said she was thankful because lupus for once was not so uncommon and they knew how to treat it!
She once said she expected the cancer to get her one day. Yet what took her home was an infection that she could not fight because she got it too soon after a treatment, when her immune system was down. I think she would be thankful for that too, somehow. I expect when we get to heaven Carolynn will meet us, just bubbling over with praise for how Jesus met her and walked with her through the transition to the next world. We are looking forward to that story, Carolynn!