This is Mary.
You might know her from various things I’ve written, includingÂ this post. Â I keep on writing about her because I want everyone who didn’t know her in life to know her anyway. Â She was that kind of person.
Mary died two years ago today. Â There’s nothing good in that sentence; it’s awful that she died, and it’s awful that it has already been two years, because I don’t want time to dull my memories of her. Â Maybe that’s another reason why I keep writing about her: it’s my own way of keeping her alive, or trying to.
Earlier this year, Mary’s sister sent me the picture above. Â It was taken just a few months before Mary’s death, and I loved it instantly. Â See that sweatshirt? Â If it’s hard to read, here’s what it says:
WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR?
If you had to sum up Mary in two sentences, you can’t do better than these. Â Mary never tried to hide her gratitude for the people in her life. Â It was right out there, in her huge hugs and her enthusiastic greetings and her love of spending time with friends in any setting. Â She always let you know how much you meant to her. Â I think her cancer made that even more of a priority.
And if you had to choose any symbol for Mary, it would be a big huge heart, probably one with an open door in it. Â Mary’s strength was not just that she loved, but that she loved enough to share others’ pain. Â In tough times, she was always the person who would “get it,” even if it was an “it” (like my ectopic pregnancy) that she’d never experienced herself. Â I think it’s a gift, that kind of compassion. Â It may be a double-edged sword for the person who has it, because it makes them vulnerable, too … but oh, I was blessed so much over the years by Mary’s presence in hard times.
So I guess if I had to say one thing about her today, two years after the day we all lost her, I would take that message on her sweatshirt and think about all the ways that Mary would want us to be love:
Be love to children. Â Be love to the poor. Â Be love to the elderly. Â Be love to those going through hard times. Be love to the immigrants. Â Be love to the marginalized. Â Be love to those who are searching for belief. Â Be love to those suffering from infertility, addiction, depression, loneliness, cancer. Â Be love to everyone. Â Be love.
Her sweatshirt said it well, but her life said it best.