Throughout my life there are those images left frozen on my mind. Mental pictures that can always spark instant emotion. Some are funny, well hysterical actually, others are pure joy, and then there is this one - one that leaves me with the rawest of emotions - sadness, frustration, anger, and doubt – all in one picture. Every time I’ve thought of it, it ends with - WHY? Why doesn’t God protect us and keep us safe? The thing about these mental pictures is that no words can do it justice. But I’ll try.
It was almost 2 years ago and I was attending a double funeral of my colleague and friend’s daughter and son-in-law. It was a tragic death of a beautiful young couple killed in a fire. I was watching the family procession into the church. Behind the shared single casket which held this young couple; there was my friend, Dr. Kathie Morgan. She seemed barely able to walk with 2 men supporting and guiding her along; one man, her first husband, who she had grown to forgive and continue to love, and the other man, her new husband who walked with her through her recent battle with cancer to include a mastectomy. Just behind her walked her only surviving daughter, and when I see her I know instantly the world of hurt that she is facing in losing a sister. There was my snap shot and mental picture of Kathie bearing all of life’s possible pains.
I also have to say here that Kathie Morgan is one of those amazing, kind women, who I imagine has very few, if any, grudges against her. So with this mental picture, I’m often left wondering – Why? Why does it storm so hard on some people? And good people? Where is our protection?
Yesterday, Kathie shared her story in our School of Education Convocation, I honestly wasn’t sure if I wanted to go. I knew it would hurt to hear her story again. But then sometimes it seems the least we can do is to listen to her story. I also knew that underneath the pain, perhaps she would offer me some wisdom. That raw wisdom discovered through life’s pain. She told her stories of pain, heartbreak, and loss to include others, like losing her sister to cancer. She didn’t even have time to share her husband’s recent heart problems and her Mom not doing well and other struggles I know she faces. While we are all left crying and emotionally drained, she closed with these thoughts. She gave us five things to do –
1. Love those people God put in your life in grace. Allow them to be free. And don’t allow any regrets.
2. Choose people over things
3. Choose your friends, mentors, and colleagues wisely, as through the hard times, they are your support.
4. Listen to your heart
Being true to teaching and her love of literacy, Kathie ended it with a quote from C.S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia referring to Aslan.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."
Here is a picture of Kathie and her daughter. Because this is much her story, Kathie read this and gave permission to share. It's been an honor to learn from her and I hope you feel this as well.