Tribute to Nellie

 

The phone vibrated.

An unexpected text message begged for my attention. I was dumbfounded as I read the words that a long-time friend of mine had suddenly passed away.

No one saw this coming including her close friends and family members. It was a shock to us all yet the awful truth is that we will be attending more of these events in the coming years.

It was a reminder to treasure the moments we have with each other. Capture those photos when meeting together for meals or events (they don’t have to be all serious pictures – we must capture those crazy moments before those memories fade).

Live life to its fullest potential for one day, we will all pass from this beautiful earth.

Those of us who hold strong to our faith that we will some day spend another lifetime in the presence of our Maker, this story is for you….

Diana and Nellie were the closest of childhood friends. They attended the same high school and worked at the same insurance company. One brought the other to church where they sang in the same choir and enjoyed the same fellowship group.

Along with a third accomplice, these three lived life as young women of the 80’s. Among their many escapades, Diana and Nellie went to Hawaii to enjoy the islands and their young freedom before having to become full-fledged adults with serious responsibilities.

Then one day, the inevitable happened. I came along and began dating Diana. Initially, it was hard for Nellie to share her best friend but we always sought to include her in our relationship and life. In fact, she was one of our bridesmaids in our wedding – that was a beautiful day for all of us and Nellie was extremely happy that her best friend would now be taken care of by someone other than herself.

Throughout the years, Nellie became Auntie Nellie to our boys and many other families.  She never married nor had children of her own but that was OK with her – after all, she had plenty of duties as the resident auntie to so many other children.

If you followed my previous posts, you will remember that we lost Diana in 2008 to cancer. It was a tragic day for me, our family, friends, and community. Nellie’s best friend from childhood had departed leaving a void that only kindred spirits can recognize as the abyss with no comfort. Diana was the connector between Nellie and our family but in 2008, that link was broken. Sadly, I had lost touch with Nellie since that time.

Fast forward to 2020.  It was now Nellie’s turn to depart from us. If there was a silver lining to our loss, it was the realization that finally, these childhood friends are back together once again enjoying a new life. This separation is temporary and yet, the loss is still difficult to bear but we have the assurance that we will all be together again some day.

The memorial service was moving and the church was filled with family members, friends, and co-workers. Amazing Grace was sung in its entirety, a slide show depicting her life was revealed on the big screen, a passionate sermon was given, and many testimonies were verbalized to honor Nellie’s life. Love definitely filled the sanctuary that morning. It was even pointed out that some of us have known her for over 40 years! My how time flies!!!

Next was the internment ceremony which was solemn as her ashes were laid to rest. I was moved by how many people her life impacted throughout the years. This woman dedicated her life to do the Lord’s work and her happiness rested in knowing that her life would impact the next generation.

Afterward was the Celebration of Life dinner where there was plenty of laughter as stories were shared of Nellie’s life, her influence in our lives, and the legacy she left behind. As the evening wore on, Nellie’s brother showed me some pictures he had taken of Nellie’s earthly possessions including a brown tattered Bible cover with her name barely visible. One could see that this Bible was well-loved and used often.

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However, Nellie’s brother was more excited to show me the next picture. When I took a closer look at the inside page of this Bible, I saw the inscription. My heart was filled with joy and I tried to hold back my tears.

On behalf of both of us, Diana had written the dedication to Nellie for this precious Bible. It was dated September, 1984 (the month Nellie became a follower of Jesus). As it turned out, though separated by years of life, Nellie used that Bible her best friend gave her in the way that kept Diana close to her heart.

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What an impact my wife had on a friendship that stood the test of time!

Nellie will definitely be missed but my heart rejoices that these kindred spirits are back together again.

Rest in peace Nellie and have fun reuniting with Diana in paradise.

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