Have you ever known someone that has made a lasting impression on your life? I don't mean your husband but someone that helped shape you when you were growing up.
Years and years ago I had a very special lady as a speech teacher. I was in about 4th grade or 5th grade and I had a new speech teacher, Mrs. Karen Stephens. She helped me get rid of that lisp and stutter that I had and she made it fun. I didn't even know that anything was "wrong". I just felt lucky that I got to go down a couple times a week and spend time with her, play games, and just talk.
Mrs. Stephens had this long, flowing, black hair that was truly her signature. When I was growing up, I wanted my hair to be just like hers. I truly believed that she had to be one of the most beautiful women in the world.
And nice. And sweet. And caring.
As I got older and "graduated" out of her class, I was a little sad that I wouldn't be spending so much time with her but lucky for me, she became our cheerleading sponsor. Once again, she was firm but nice. And beautiful.
As time goes, I grew up and went to college. Moved away and got married. I didn't keep in contact with now "Karen" but found out while I was in college in the '90's that she had developed breast cancer. I saw Karen a few times during her chemo and radiation and I can tell you that she handled the whole ordeal with such grace that our little town was in awe of her.
When she first got the disease, she had two really small little girls and I remember being so sad for her and for them. A back story to Karen is that she actually went to the same high school that I attended. I remember riding the bus when I was really little (probably kindergarten) and when we would pull up to the high school, I would see Karen and her boyfriend Clint being teenagers in love and kind of swoon over them. All of those years later, Clint was now her husband and they had these two beautiful little girls. And, she had breast cancer.
For years, and I mean years, Karen has fought this fight. She has been cancer free many times and has tried every treatment she possibly could to hang on. My mom says that she remembers Karen telling her that her only goal was to fight it long enough so that her little girls would be grown.
I got the sad news last night that Karen contracted the flu last week and was in the hospital. The cancer has taken over her body and she agreed yesterday to go home and to have hospice come in.
My heart is broken. I haven't been close to her in so many years but, in my mind, I am that little elementary school girl looking up to my beautiful and nice teacher. I know she has suffered so much and I am comforted by the fact that she will no longer be in pain but I am so saddened for her high school sweetheart who has spent his whole life loving her and her two beautiful grown girls.
Please say a prayer tonight asking for comfort and peace for Karen, her family, and for the people whose life she touched.