Over 30 years ago, Beth, her husband, and two daughters moved into a home across the street from ours. Beautiful, smart, witty, and wise, Beth savored life, lived happily, and loved purely. She faced adversity with faith and courage, and she blessed my life by her example.
When cancer destroyed the nerves in her spinal column after the birth of her second daughter, Beth became a paraplegic. During the 27 years that followed, she faced daunting health challenges. She often spent a month or two in the hospital each year, laying on her stomach after surgery. Other times, complications from her illness resulted in weeks of laying patiently while she waited for her body to heal. As I watched Beth endure great suffering, she taught me some secrets of peaceful living. Among them are:
1. Find beauty. When Beth lay in the hospital--too weak to read, visit, or watch t.v.--she observed shadows move across the room. An artist, Beth found beauty in the shading, form, and texture of the shadows. She found beauty on all of God's creations, even ones we may not notice.
2. Learn to laugh. Beth laughed at herself, her condition, and the ironies of life. She loved my children and laughed at their antics. She laughed when we watched videos together in her bedroom, when she talked about her hospital escapades, and when we visited over the phone. Laughter prolonged her life, and lessened her pain.
3. Serve someone. Beth found creative ways to serve others. She taught my older daughter to sew. She tended my younger daughter after school when I worked. She cooked gourmet lunches for her friends, created gorgeous Christmas tree ornaments for her loved ones, and designed an exquisite counted cross-stitch masterpiece for me, which read, "The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched. They must be felt with the heart."
4. See the positive. Beth reminded me that all of us face disabilities of one form or another. Some cannot walk, see, or hear. Others cannot trust God, forgive, or love. Beth said she preferred the former disabilities because she could still live with faith and optimism even though she could not walk. Beth focused on the beauties and blessings of life and overlooked the disappointments and heartaches.
Today Beth's spirit soars. She is walking and running among the angels. I praise God for the blessing of knowing and loving her and for the privilege of being her friend.
© Carol Brown