The last two memorials I attended were for two younger women – and it struck me that both of them lived lives defined by love. In fact, although they were unrelated in any way, the love chapter from 1 Corinthians 13 was read at both.
In this blog, I want to tell you about my friend Katelyn. Her dad and her husband gave me permission to do so, otherwise I would not use her name, or tell her story (from my perspective).
Katelyn lived by love. She radiated it. When she was diagnosed with cancer she faced her future with courage and determination. I did not see any self-pity.
In fact when I would often ask her how I could pray for her in the numerous hospital visits over the last few years, she would often ask for prayer to live better, to love better, to be able to share that love with everyone she met.
The two overseas trips she went on in her young life were an example of that. She went to India on a missions trip and to Haiti, just after the earthquake. Her motivation was to help others.
Her sister told me that one day Katelyn had a new jacket, but she saw someone who was cold, and she took the coat off her back and gave it away. That was her heart. Even though her own resources were limited, she shared freely.
Like any young person she had hopes and dreams. She loved music and wanted to sing and write. And she did. She was working on a book – she wanted to share her faith and love of Jesus with everyone. She was motivated to live.
She was also motivated to love. Shortly after she was told that her cancer had progressed and that her life expectancy was limited, she continued plans to marry. What joy she had in living in love. Even through difficulties… she was quite ill just before the wedding… she was able to enter into probably the most joy-filled day of her life.
And it was evident how many loved her by all who came and supported her and her husband. It was a beautiful garden wedding and I was honoured to attend.
Her loving translated into gratitude. She was truly grateful for each person who walked into her life. Her last words were a testament to her life. She said “I love you. I love everyone!”
And knowing Katelyn, she meant it with all her heart.
Every once in a while, I cross the boundary of patient and chaplain and become a friend. I was blessed to be Katelyn’s friend. When she asked me this past summer if I would officiate at her memorial, I could only say yes.
And she was clear what she wanted. It was to be a service that honoured Jesus. And it became a service that celebrated love.
Katelyn had a beautiful simplicity I admired. But she was also anxious to get it right. She wanted to live well. We talked about how God loves us as we are and we don’t have to do anything to win God’s favour.
And then we would read this wonderful passage from Romans 8 which became a favourite of ours to share together:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
There are some things on earth we will not understand… as the love chapter says in verse 12, “For now we only see a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
I receive enormous comfort in those words. We don’t know the whole picture. But God does. And some day we’ll know fully, even as we are now fully known by the One who created us.
And I can only imagine my friend Katelyn knowing fully, understanding what she might not have understood here on earth. We talked about our lives stretching into eternity, there is a comma we step over into our eternal home. It is not a period. It is not the end.
There has been much loss in my own world lately, and for many I know. I hope that these simple thoughts will bring comfort… and I know I am challenged to live by love… always.