Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Friend Mary Ann

Last year, on the day before Easter, I spoke at my friend Mary Ann’s funeral.  I started with, “This is very difficult.  Mary Ann was my friend, and I loved her.”  The church was packed with friends and family who also loved her.

Mary Ann was 17 years older than me.  We met in 2005 when we were paired-up in a canoe for a fundraiser for our local village’s swimming pool.  I took the front of the canoe, and she parked her petite frame in the back.  We became instant friends as we sojourned down the Portage River.  She used to call us kindred spirits.  We had a very special connection from the moment we met.

Mary Ann dabbled in real estate in addition to her full-time job.  The next summer, when wasband and I separated, Mary Ann found the home that was perfect for me and my kids.  A few months after that, another friend of Mary Ann’s separated from her husband and Mary Ann found her a home too near me.  Mary Ann introduced us two new single ladies, and the three of us became friends.  I had them over for several dinners over the following years, but looking back – not often enough.

You see, Mary Ann was hurting on the inside more than anyone realized and took her own life.  The day after her funeral, on Easater, I went to the cemetary to grieve.  It was easy to find her grave because it was covered with fresh flowers.  I noticed another grave very close by also with fresh flowers that seemed to match, so I went to that grave site to find that it was the site of Mary Ann’s parents.  I glanced over and saw yet another small bunch of flowers near Mary Ann’s gravesite.  The flowers were place purposely on a tiny grave which Mary Ann never told me about.  The tiny grave belonged to her daughter, Jennifer, that died shortly after birth.  Jennifer was born 3 months after me, but only lived a few days. 

Two days ago I finally built up the courage to reach out to Mary Ann’s daughter, Stacey, who is several years younger than me.  Stacy responded so sweetly asking me to tell her stories about her mom so that she won’t be so sad that her mom is gone.  I never met Stacey when Mary Ann was alive. (Stacey lives a few hours away with her husband and two little boys.)  I’ve gathered some notes and recipes that Mary Ann wrote for me to give to Stacey.  Stacey wants to keep her mom’s spirit alive.  I wish I reached out to Stacey sooner, but just didn’t know what to say.  Maybe Stacey and I will become friends.

I think about my friend Mary Ann so often, and wonder how I missed that she was hurting so bad inside.  I think everyone does.  I never shared Christ with her, but do hope she knew Jesus before she took her last breath.  I know many people have strong opinions about suicide, but when it happens to some you love – it’s confusing.  I try to pay closer attention now to friends who share their hurts with me, but more importantly, I try to share Christ in some way.  I miss you, my friend Mary Ann.          

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