August 14, 2009

Dancing With Angels

This morning (Thursday) I was rushing about my daily routine getting ready to leave the house with all the children in tow for a day of appointments, errands and shopping. When the phone rang with the news that our beloved friend had left this life after a little over a week of unresponsiveness in ICU. We have been waiting for this call since Allen and I got word of her decline when we returned from Philadelphia.

Miss Dee was an amazing woman. I met her several years ago when Allen and I took up ballroom dancing. When we walked into that first class the last thing I expected to see was a 70 something woman and her 80 something husband, Mr. Dick. And, I must admit when I did see them, I questioned how much we would learn.

Did they prove me wrong! This couple moved like teenagers as they spun around the floor demonstrating steps for us. As we became friends, who could not love them, I learned that Dick and Dee took up ball room dancing in their 40’s when Mr. Dick retired from his job at IBM. As they passed the required tests they took up teaching as well as traveling the competition circuit.

And that is not all. They also bought motorcycles, learned to ride and began traveling the country on their Harley Davidson’s.

Wait there is more. This dynamic duo decided they wanted to learn to fly. Lessons began and eventually they earned their pilots licenses. They flew until Mr. Dick, still with perfect vision, in his 80’s was denied insurance because of his age.

And they cared for their ailing son, who was in and out of the hospital. And they had time for everyone. My children became as their own grandchildren.

In the last year Mr. Dick has struggled with health issues that consumed most of the last twelve months in and out of the hospital. Yet, Miss Dee handled it with the grace and charm and quiet spirit of a true lady. I admired her. How trite that sounds. But it is the most accurate statement I can come up with. Miss Dee, and indeed her dear husband, inspired me to live every moment of life to its complete and utter fullness. And then to make no apology for it.

Miss Dee had not time to be concerned with what others thought about her. Once as we were talking of our mutual love for a good Christmas tree, she told me this delightful story.

"Kathleen," she said. "One year, there was so much going on in our lives. And I didn’t have the time nor the inclination to take my Christmas tree down. I was out running errands one day and I came across a lady. We started talking and determined that we both lived in the same neighborhood." She went on to say that where their house was located everyone had to drive by their property to get anywhere in their neighborhood. They talked for a while longer when the topic turned to the “crazy lady who still has her Christmas tree up in July.” Miss Dee just smiled and said, “I’m pleased to meet you. I am Dee Herridge and I am glad you appreciate my Christmas tree.” Wouldn’t you have tried to pretend it wasn’t you?

Have you ever noticed how there are seasons of birth and seasons of death? Sometimes it seems like it is baby after baby coming to brighten this dark world. And other times it seems like it is one soul after another leaving this dark world.

This is a season of death for us. We have recently had news of a friend who lost her mother. My husband got news last week of a work associate, in his 40’s, who was found dead in his apartment. Last Monday, a friend emailed me of the loss of her brother. Later that week she emailed again of the loss of another dear family member. Yes, this is a season of death.

As a child and young woman this would have disturbed me. I did not know the Lord, and search as I did; I did not understand how to be certain of my eternity in Heaven instead of eternal suffering in Hell. I praise my Heavenly Father that He showed me the way and gave the assurance that I no longer fear death but look forward to a day that I will sit by His side. My friend, the one who emailed me, too has claimed that promise and had the comfort of knowing that she will see her loved ones again in eternity.

Our family has recently finished listening to the complete series of the Chronicles of Narnia audio book. It happened that I heard the very end of The Last Battle driving to an appointment after receiving my friend’s first email message.

I shivered at Aslan’s reply when the children asked him where they are. He is astonished, but not really because he represents God, that they have yet to figure out where they are. He explains that they died in the train accident that brought them to Narnia for the last time and that they have passed into the new Narnia, which of course represents Heaven. He then says these powerful words.

“The term has ended. It is morning!”

Which of course, got me to thinking about why we mourn the loss of our loved ones. Sometimes, indeed, it is because their lives have touched us so much, during their term, that we can’t bear the thought of going on without their presence. But other times it is a great sadness for the suffering they are entering for eternity.

I couldn’t help but spend some time comparing and contrasting these two words.

Mourning: an outward sign of grief for a person's death. What comes to mind here? First, I think of the deep sadness I have felt at the loss of someone I loved deeply. Someone who impacted my life in some way. One who inspired me. One who encouraged me along life’s journey. Like my dear grandmother.

Then there is the mourning when you must realize the eternal suffering of a lost one who rejected the truth. Or perhaps at our failure to share the message while we had the opportunity.

Where as, we think of morning, as a new beginning or a fresh start. Of course, this is the morning that Aslan refers to, the morning of those who have put their trust in the Lord. It is a time of rejoicing. Truly the exact opposite of mourning. The Bible assures us we will no longer even sorrow for the loved ones who were sent to eternal punishment, as our Savior Himself shall wipe away the tears.

What a contrast. So today, as we mourn our friend, I ask you, my blog world friends and you my real life friends, alike to consider this question, as you begin a fresh new day.

When you have completed your term, will there be mourning or will it be morning?


  1. Beautiful, beautiful post. And Narnia so often speaks to me, too.

  2. What an absolutely beautiful post Kat! I am excited for that beautiful morning!

  3. What a great story you shared about your dear departed friend.

    I will be ever grateful for my salvation. God opened my eyes to Jesus about 17 years ago and it turned my entire life around. One day, it will indeed be morning when I go to be with my Heavenly Father and, for that, I will ever praise Him.

  4. this post made me smile and rejoice from beginning to end. Every.word!

    Thank you for sharing Miss Dee, Mr.Dick and their incredible lives with us....what a beautiful reminder that God has plans for us everyday and it only gets better.

    We have read a couple of the Chronicles books...but you just put a fire under my butt (a good spiritual fire, LOL) to start the whole series with my younger two this homeschooling year. Thank you so much!


  5. What a great post. Very thought provoking. I'm admiring your elderly friends too. What a way to live.

  6. When my term is completed, I will receive new feet (no longer 2 left feet) and I will be dancing with my Heavenly Father!
    BTW: I am your crazy lady friend in Virginia whose Christmas tree has remained up for almost 3 years now. Someone said something to me and my reply was, "In the Perdue home...everyday is Christmas!" Needless to say...they did not have a reply.
    Blessings and hugs, andrea

  7. Kat,

    What a great tribute you wrote about Dee's life here in this post. I felt like you have captured her essence of youth that they both lived more in their latter years than in the earlier ones.

    This reminds me of the movie Second Hand Lions and it teaches us all, that as long as we are breathing, we are all still living. So keep on doing, perhaps your greatest masterpiece lies waiting just around the corner.

    I know I will see all of my friends in the morning!

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  8. Absolutely beautiful. I cannot wait for that Morning. To be in the presence of Jesus forever and ever. Oh what a day!

  9. Oh, I'm sorry for your loss here on earth, but what a beautiful new morning for your dear friend. No more mourning here!

  10. SO sorry for your lost. I hope I am living my life here on earth that when death should come it will be a continuation of what I am living for here on earth...not an end. We have so much more to go on to don't we? (((hugs)))

  11. They sound like they were a wonderful couple! What a blessing that you were able to have a relationship with them! I can imagine how much you will miss her presence here on earth, but how nice to know that you will be w/ her in eternity, one day!

    As for me..there will be MORNING!!

  12. Wow. What a beautiful beautiful post!!
    You have such an amazing heart and an even more amazing gift for writing!!

  13. Morning, yes morning!! What a wonderful day it'll be when I go to be with my Creator, Lord.

    I'm in no hurry, but I do know my days are decided by my God. I always feel so bad for the people left behind that do grieve the loss of their loved ones.

    It is good you have such fond memories of your friend and your grandma.

    Just today my mom said she realizes God wanted her to stay in the rehab center to help her appreciate her life even more. She sees people there that she knows will live there until they die. She says she used to look over them & not look at them when she would go visit friends in the care center. Now she sees they are people too.

    Maybe she'll talk with them about Jesus.

    Take care,

  14. Oh love the picture :) Thank you for posting it, Its lovely :)