There are times in a person’s life where I sit down and write a poem of sorts. Sometimes, it’s for celebrations like birthdays, baby showers. Other times, like now, I do it to honor someone’s life. My friend, Beth has recently gone into hospice care after living with cancer for 21 years, 13 of those years with it metastasized in her bones. She’s a walking miracle and I will deeply miss her. Here’s my tribute to her.
Beth: Pledged to God
You, my out-of-the-box professor
Introducing me to my first picture books since childhood
The Legend of the Three Trees
The Velveteen Rabbit
The Giving Tree
Weaving in your message that we all are, that I was, special indeed.
A mother first and foremost, you’d left class once because Laura wasn’t tolerating separation.
Through your actions and your words, you let us know, you gave us permission, to value things way beyond Rosemead.
You’d exhort us to never lose our soul.
To remember grades and performance were only temporary; knowing our souls, finding our callings in Christ, connecting with others were eternal.
I don’t want to say good-bye to you, Beth.
You are a kindred spirit.
You are a sister I never had – whose life will live on in the sisterhood.
You inspire me.
You listen to me.
You see me, the depths of my soul.
Who else will encourage me when I lose my way?
Who else will speak to me on behalf of the dead?
Who else will widen her eyes, nod her head and say, “Oh! Oh!” as we encounter a God moment together?
I’ve grown fond of imagining God wrapping his protective hands around your liver. And He did. For three years. I’m going to miss that liver.
I miss already our dinner conversations, hearing about joys and struggles.
I miss already your magnetic energy.
I miss already sharing images God’s given me for you.
You’re like an IV drip from heaven.
Filling me up with words of compassion, words of encouragement, words of faith – lifting me up when I feel down.
Who knew my professor of the spring of 1995 would change my life?
Surely God gave you to me, to all of us, as His promise to bring us into safe pastures.
You are my human Jesus – model as one pledged to God in the good and bad,
You bore your cross – cancer
And when the end was nearer still,
Lived out your Garden of Gethsemane where you were afraid and pleading for more life, more time. These were depressive hours, depressive months.
Then hearing God’s answer and setting your mind on the cross,
Feasted us with verbal “communion dinners” (and you thought you didn’t cook),
Then in these last weeks, gifted us more with transparency, exhortations, and words.
You even elevated beyond the sisterhood and into Nathan’s hood — matching crane tattoos, a reminder of God’s promise 13 years ago for more life,
You hang still, getting affairs in order, turning to your “Beloved Johns” and giving family into the care of another before breathing your last breath.
My veil will rip when it is such a day.
My heart will hurt.
And my head will eventually rise towards the heavens and laughter will come again as I imagine you at the gates of heaven, exclaiming, “Oh my gracious!”
Until we meet again, Beth Brokaw, I will remember you in countless ways, in countless images, in countless verses because you allowed me to live life with you.
Your legacy lives on,
How Great Thou Art through You.
Kimber Court Del Valle, June 2013