Fifty years ago today, I received a gift. I don’t remember Brenda coming to live with me, since I was only the tender age of 18 months. But I never really knew life without her until 22 years later when she died of melanoma lymphatic cancer. I’m crying today for the first time in forever. There’s a lot going on and I guess I’m feeling the loss more than I have since she died.
If you were lucky enough to know Brenda, you understand my loss. She lived a life that touched everyone around her. She was the golden child, the smart one, the kind one. She knew what it was like to be a friend and what needed to happen in order to make friendships grow.
Brenda was the Farm Queen, the Fair Queen, the Tobacco Queen (yep, it was those days in Southern Maryland). She was 1st runner up at the Maryland Farm Bureau contest. She played French horn in the high school band, played piano, and sang. She won her trip to the National 4-H competition in Chicago. She simply excelled in everything she did.
She was fair skinned and blond. She wanted to tan. What she got was a mole on her knee that turned out to be skin cancer. She was 18. The doctors removed the mole, and declared her well. Brenda went on to Grace College, graduated in 3 ½ yrs. and married Rick. Everything looked great for them and then Brenda began to have a pain in her leg. The rest is statistics. The experimental treatment spared her the long death.
It’s been said that life is made up in the dash, that dash between Dec. 6, 1965 – Feb. 2, 1988. A good friend of Brenda’s called me about 6 months later. She told me she had had a dream, a vision, and Brenda came to her and told her she was all right. However, the family she left behind was not.
It has taken me nearly 3 decades to acknowledge the depth of that loss. I can only do so now as I look at the death of another relationship, the undoing of another family. Change should be embraced and even celebrated, since our lives are made up of changes. Some changes need to be mourned and grieved. And then there is the change that one feels the need to fight for whatever reason. But change can be unacknowledged and ignored, left to fester in the soul. There is poison in that well.
Brenda would choose to embrace and celebrate the change. As a Christian, I believe I will see her again. In the meantime, I must be mindful of the dash.