Our Dear Marylou

My summer started with a long-awaited lunch with one of my oldest and dearest friends.

We wanted to get together ever since my mother died in March but, because I work at the local high school, we decided to wait until school was out so we could both relax and enjoy the day.

Work ended for me at the end of June on a Thursday. The following Tuesday found Marylou and I in a favorite restaurant chatting away.

Her mother passed away one year before my mother died. We were two grieving daughters who could not wait to meet face to face and talk about what we were both experiencing.

Because our friendship began when we were only two years old, we were like sisters and our conversation was just what each of us needed. I can’t describe the relief I felt to be sitting across the table from her.

We talked about our mothers, our sweet dads, and the new responsibilities taken on when our moms died. There was a good deal of reminiscing, laughing, venting and more than a few tears. We were famous for our marathon lunches and this one lasted until the waiters were lighting the candles for dinner!

At the end of our time together, we talked about our faith and particularly about heaven. We told each other our moms are not floating on clouds with wings and playing harps! Instead, we affirmed that they are healthy and whole, living their real lives in their real home and that one day we would see them again. It was such a sweet conversation.

We said our goodbyes and ‘I love yous’ that afternoon, not having any idea that ‘one day’ would come very soon for Marylou.

It was only three weeks later that we lost her. There was a very brief illness and then she was gone. What little color that had come back into my life after the death of my mom disappeared in an instant. I have been struggling to keep my head above the waves of grief ever since.

On our way to the hospital after receiving the call from her family, I kept saying to Pat, “It’s too much, it’s too much!” I was inconsolable.

The truth is, it really is too much for me – but it isn’t too much for Jesus.

Just as He did when I lost my mom, He has never left me, never stopped reminding me of His presence and, sad as I am, I have never lost hope.

How many lifelong best friends can say that their last conversation together contained a profession of faith, full of the hope of heaven — ending with the words “I love you”?

I was given an amazing gift that day and I didn’t even know it.

My friend Denise mentioned to me that, when someone close to you dies, you not only lose the person – you lose the relationship. That really spoke to me. A friendship built over 55 years is irreplaceable. The confidences, the silly stories, the history, the unconditional love, the ‘being known’ by someone who goes so far back with you simply cannot be replaced.

But yet, it isn’t all gone.

Our loved ones leave a legacy. Some can change the trajectory of a family and the lives around them. They leave a positive imprint long after they have gone and it can reach to future generations.

How we handle ourselves while we are here really does matter.

I’d like to share Marylou’s ‘imprint’ with all of you. The telling will help me heal and I hope it will be helpful to you too.

When I think of her, my very first thoughts go to the Fruit of the Spirit. You probably know that the nine fruits are the attributes that we, hopefully, display as we grow closer to God and as the Holy Spirit matures us in our faith.

Here is what the Scripture says in Galatians 5:22-23:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Our dear Marylou displayed them all. Not perfectly, of course – there is no perfection in this life — but she displayed each one consistently and intentionally. I don’t know about you, but when I look at that list I cannot say the same about myself – but I can honestly say it about Marylou.

As I thought about the imprint she left with us, the fruit of ‘peace’ kept jumping out at me. When we think of peace we tend to think of serenity, tranquility or the absence of anxiety – but I discovered that the Greek word for peace (Eirene) in Galatians 5:22 actually means ‘peace with others’.

And that was Marylou.

We were in the ICU with her family for five days. As I watched them arrive from all over the country, I saw the relationships between all of them. There was so much love – love for Marylou, love for her husband Paul, and love for each other.

Marylou built strong relationships not only with Paul, but with each of her sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, children, and grandchildren. She was devoted to her dad. Marylou never met a stranger and she stayed in touch with friends both old and new.

She treasured people and loved unconditionally. While I witnessed all this going on, I whispered to my husband, “There is so much fruit here – I can see her legacy in all of these relationships. Amazing.”

You see, Marylou was a peace-maker.

This was on my mind over all the days she was in the hospital. I kept thinking about the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says, “Blessed are the peace-makers for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9

Marylou was a peace-maker. She was not a peace ‘keeper’, which implies peace at all costs and co-dependency, but a true peace-maker.

She was a bridge builder, a reconciler, and an extreme forgiver.

She desired peace with others – and she wanted us to have it, too.

I cannot tell you how many times over the years Marylou spoke truth to me as only a close and trusted friend can do. If I was at odds with someone, she reminded me of a few things I needed to remember and then told me ‘to get over it’. She always encouraged me to make the first move, forgive first and then move on.

I loved that about her. I am going to miss her voice in my life, but thankfully Marylou’s legacy and imprint lives on.

So…What about you? What about me? What kind of an imprint will we leave behind?

Will it be one of peace with others or will we be known for throwing everyone and everything around us into a tizzy?

Will we be remembered for tossing gasoline on the fire or will our legacy be to make the first move – forgiving and moving on?

How we handle ourselves while we are here really does matter.

As for me, I want to be a bridge builder, a reconciler, and an extreme forgiver.

I want to be a peace-maker — just like our dear Marylou.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

 

My dearest friend, Marylou Forcey Jones

Many Blessings,

PS. I never set out to write so much about grief and loss, but here I am. I’m sharing what the Lord is teaching me along the way. If you or someone you care for is grieving a loss, you may be interested a few posts I wrote last Spring:

You Will Never Understand {until it happens to you}

My Sisters

 The Third Month is the Hardest…

 

22 thoughts on “Our Dear Marylou”

    1. Thank you, Cyndi. She truly did live a wonderful life. She was so resilient and never, ever complained. Gone too soon — I miss her.

  1. Thanks so much for sharing Marylou with the us… she’s a very special person. I cried when I read your blog. Think about my father & brother and the problems I have on my life. “PEACE” is the word I live by. I love you! Please get in touch with me if you need anything. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you after Marylou passed away. But I’m here now if you need me. Ali

    1. Ali- You are the sweetest thing. Thank you. I am ok. Much better this week but I feel like summer is just starting now that it is ending. So it goes… Love you right back. Thank you.

  2. Wow! What an eye opener! I hope I can find the strengh to make some changes in my life! Thank you for sharing such an inspirational story Laura! ☺

    1. Thank you, Wendy and thanks for sharing it on your page. I glad that it is encouraging.She was the dearest person and you would have loved her. Everyone loved Marylou. BTW: her dad, Pastor Ross Forcey helped to plant Redeemer. He held the first services in the Yinger’s farm house in Damascus in the 1960’s.

    1. Thank you Debbie. You are right–we were both blessed. No one will ever take her place, but I am grateful we had her for as long as we did. God’s timing is hard to accept but we must.

  3. So beautifully written just as I thought you would do, Laura! What a blessing to all of us and others I am sure. I will be sharing this! Hugs 😀

    1. Barb- thanks for the encouragement and nudge to write this when we met up at She Leads.I truly appreciate it. I was listening!

  4. don’t you just love how nothing that happens is ever coincidence?!
    my father has stage 4 cancer and we will soon say goodbye. i love what you said, “living their real lives in their real home and that one day we would see them again.” that is it!! in Christ, we never say goodbye!
    praying for you today as you grieve for the loss of your dear friend!
    (i’m your neighbor over at purposefulfaith.com)

    1. I am so very sorry you hear you are losing your dad. I lost my mom only 4 months ago and I know very well how difficult this is for you. I love that you have your eyes open to expectantly see the Lord at work through this hard journey. He has gone before you– He has set the stage for what is here now and what is coming. You can completely rest in His care. You dad will be ok — He will experience the fruition of his faith and he will be finally home. Sending love to you and your family.

  5. I came to know Marylou and Paul through Paul’s daughter, Debbie. Through trying times and happy ones, Marylou was a beacon of light and a source of strength in the lives of her step-daughter, her grandchildren, and my own. She was unfailingly kind, thoughtful, generous, and non-judgmental. Where she went, healing followed. She was and through treasured memories will continue to be a blessing to all who knew her.

    1. Wow — you certainly know Marylou. Thank you so much for what you have written. I will share your comment with her family. There was no one like her. She was all of the things you have listed and so much more. Thank you so much for your very thoughtful words. God Bless you.

  6. Laura –
    Thank you for sharing Marylou’s legacy with us. These sentences made me stop and reread several times and made an impact on me today: Our loved ones leave a legacy. Some can change the trajectory of a family and the lives around them. They leave a positive imprint long after they have gone and it can reach to future generations. These words are so true and thank you again for sharing with us. Your Neighbor at #LifeGivingLinkup

    1. Debbie- Thank you for stopping by. I am old enough to know that we really can, by the grace of God, allow Him to change the trajectory of our family. I have seen it many times. It’s all in the obedience. Many Blessings to you!

  7. Hi there, I found this page via the Time Warp Wife link up. Such a challenging read about how we use the time we have while we are here. Thank you for sharing this story.

  8. Oh Laura – I am so terribly sorry for your loss. But thank you so much for sharing this dear soul’s life with us in your post. It was a beautiful story of a beautiful person and friendship, and I pray you will find comfort in memories of Marylou, and in knowing some day you will gather together with your Moms in Heaven.

    1. Thank you Linda. I appreciate your sweet words– we have lost the most beautiful person I have ever known. She was an overcomer in every sense of the word. I am grateful it came through in the post. I could have written pages and pages…..God Bless and thank you so much for commenting.

  9. I found this tribute to MaryLou. I am a cousin and have been trying to find MaryLou and her sisters. MaryLou sent a beautiful letter to my Mom when Lena died. My mother lost the letter. Seeing this has caused me great sadness but blessings also knowing that she’s home with the Lord.

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