Thursday, November 6, 2008

Goodbye to Sweet

Today we will say goodbye to Sweet. I simply can't accept or believe it. How can someone so alive be gone? I don't understand, any of it.

Sweet was a force of life.

I first met Sweet when I was just a few hours old. She came to visit my mom in the hospital, and to this day when she told that story, she would always tease my mom about wearing this frilly nightgown and having curled hair just hours after giving birth.

Here is a story I rarely share:
When I was a junior in high school I taught 5th grade Sunday School. I wasn't allowed to go to children's camp the next summer because I wouldn't yet be 18, but Sweet allowed me to interview anyway. Afterward she said she just wouldn't be able to take me as a counselor because the budget was tight and there were enough returning, older counselors.

A few days later was Pearce cheerleading tryouts. An old friend of mine had been a varsity cheerleader her junior year, and she didn't make it again for her senior year. It was the talk of the school- that had never happened before. She was devastated. I knew her pain, something similar had happened to me the year before. I made her a little simple card with markers and computer paper, and tried to think of any words of comfort.

I haven't mentioned that this friend was Jewish. Sometime in the next few days, my church got a call from a woman asking to speak to whoever was my minister. Randy, our youth minister, wasn't in the office, so somebody transferred the call to Sweet. The woman on the phone said she was the mother of my friend, and that in honor of my comfort to her daughter she wanted to make a donation to our church for a certain amount. It was the exact amount that was the cost of sending a counselor to children's camp.

Sweet called and said, "Katie, I think you are supposed to go to this camp". I went.

That week was the week Ben and I fell in love. Four-plus years later we are about to be married. There are dozens more stories. Sweet has been so instrumental to my life, maybe more than any other adult outside my family. Above, she is with her daughters Kendall and Ivy, both of whom are role models to me and dear friends. Below, she is with Hayley, our other dear friend and camp-counselor alum whose wedding Sweet officiated in June. I knew several weeks ago that she would be too ill to be our minister, too, and that she may not even be able to attend, but I never ever thought she would be gone.
Sweet's best friend is another minister at our church, Candy. Below is a letter from the "Ellen" show's website, and Candy is, selflessly as usual, trying to get Ellen to feature Sweet's courageous life.
Last April I got this email from Sweet. She regularly emailed updates, but this one broke my heart. She has battled through despair and pain, and has fought on with strength. When I think that not five months ago she was with us at camp, riding around on a golf cart, teaching kids about proper 'bleacher behavior' and rapping her classic "How many of YOU have had a good day today". Here is a testimony Sweet wrote on the Susan G. Komen website: Sweet's story from the Komen site is so powerful, and so her.

I cannot believe she is gone.

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