One of my closest friends, Liz, has always been incredibly close with her stepdad and when he died of cancer last week I decided to go to his funeral to support her. As I sat nervously in that familiar church with Bean girl wiggling on my lap I realized this was so much bigger than me.
You see, John died of a very aggressive and horrible cancer that came out of nowhere and killed him in a matter of months. His wife, Ada, is a gracious and beautiful woman with a soul you can see for miles. She's got a contagious smile and a look in her eye that tells you she truly knows happiness, she lives for love and family and togetherness... she exudes confidence, strength, and compassion. She and Liz's relationship is a direct reflection of the kind of amazing mother and person she is. I didn't know Ada when she was a single mom, or when she was married to Liz's dad, (who is also an absolutely amazing guy as well) but I've heard stories of her over the years... she's the type of woman who truly deserves the happiness and love she's showering on everyone else. Liz told me once that she was certain her mom had met her match with John, because he was very much the same type of person. I worry about Ada now, only because I know her heart is so broken. I can't imagine how overwhelming it would be to find that person, your match in this crazy world, and to lose them so quickly, so unexpectedly.
Liz stood up at the funeral and told stories of John, of their family, their bond... and she was speaking with so much joy it was obvious how strong their love was. The kind of relationship she had with John is the kind I hope that Marshall and Marti Pearl will have, which brings me to my one and only story about John... which makes me teary eyed and so happy all at the same time.
Liz is an incredible singer. Her voice is so beautiful and she often sings at church. One Sunday she was singing in front of the congregation, with her back to the choir. John sat behind her smiling so big throughout the song and at one point I could tell he was biting his lip a little... a sign of pride that warmed my heart completely. Towards the end of her song he was wiping his eyes with increasing frequency and when she finished, the man next to him patted him on the shoulder and he let out a little sob. He was so overcome by pride for his daughter that it moved him to tears... that's what its all about.
This man lived his life for his family, his amazing wife and intelligent, ambitious children. He said to Liz during his last week here that the most perfect day of his entire life was when he married her mom, and I believe him entirely. To live a life of reflection and service to others is so noble and rare... but to truly find the person you were meant to love forever, to marry that person and begin your lives together... that's the most perfect thing ever. That is heaven. I know for a fact that I'll love again, I know it will be beautiful and fulfilling, everything I've hoped for.
John was truly living his life, and his passing has definitely left a large void. I know Ada is strong enough to make it through, the love and strength she's drawn from her relationship with John will carry on his legacy. I hope he realized what an inspiration he was while he was here, I'm certain everyone else knows it.
Liz and Ada, I love you. Thank you for being in my life.