Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Willie & Vanda

Willy and Vanda:
I have lost 2 friends in the past 3 weeks. Death in any case is tragic. Death that seems to make so sense at all is beyond tragic.
Death is for old people. People with long term illnesses. I say this because in my mind, it is those circumstances that give us a chance to find some closure. Some logic. Some end to the suffering. Death has touched 2 people that I know recently. Neither one of those people were old or sick.
Willie was 36. Willie drank himself into a coffin. He was an alcoholic. Tragic. Even more tragic is what is left in the wake of his death. Confusion. Hurt. Anger. People blaming themselves that they didn’t step in to help. Willie had gotten sober for years. Gotten his life back on track. But somewhere between then and his death he decided to drowned himself in 14 bottles of vodka.
Now what is left is Willies children. His wife. His brothers and sisters. His mom. Tragic. Senseless. Loss.

Wanda was 52. The wife of one of the truly most wonderful men I have ever known in my life, Manny. Vanda died from a blood clot in her lungs. She died in her husbands arms while he was trying to save her with CPR. Vanda and Manny had one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ kinds of love. He is crushed. What I remember of Vanda was her voice. She was Portuguese. And her voice was always peppy and happy and peppered with that sexy Portuguese accent. When Manny and Vanda were together, their love for each other was evident in the way that they touched and the way that they smiled and spoke without words.
What is left behind of Vanda is her legacy. A testimony of love for her husband. Her love of education. Her zeal for her children. What people will say about Vanda is this: her house was messy and out of order….but her children will always remember that their mother always made time for them and gave without ceasing. The other thing that is left behind of Vanda is her husband, my friend, Manny. He will grieve her. Grieve her laughter, her warmth, her touch, her face. But he will continue to walk, knowing that the love that they had is the greatest part of the man that his is. He has actually spoken those words to me. “She is my once in a lifetime”……
I pray that this kind of love touches me.
I also pray that I keep my legacy, what is left behind, in the forefront of my heart. I write about this so much. This legacy.
I have come to realize, it isn’t in what we have or don’t have that defines us. It isn’t what we accomplish or don’t accomplish that defines us. It isn’t what we drive or where we live or what we wear or how much we spend on a pair of tennis shoes. It is what that is not seen that people remember.
It is the expressions of love. The sounds of the voice. The words and whispers spoken. The remnants of touches on the skin. The perfume or aftershave that lingers. The music that is shared. That special song. It is also for me the faith that I share with those around me. My children see me read my bible and they know that there is a God out there that orchestrates and directs. My kids hear the words of my prayers and see the time that I take to pray for them and see my faith in action. They see me struggle thur the barren times when there is only 47 cents in my wallet. They see me love hard and deep. They see and live and experience life with me when I walk in obedience when I love the orphans and the widows and the unloveable.
I hope that when I am called home to Jesus. That what is left in the wake is the love that I gave to them. And the love that I gave to others. I pray more than anything else that what they remember is not that I was a ‘good woman’ but that I was ‘a woman that wanted to please the heart of God’.
Rest in peace Willie. I hope you have found that peace that you sought in a bottle.
Rest in peace Vanda. I know you lived your life in love. It is reflected in those you left behind.

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