I was thirteen years old when I first met her. Honestly, I only took her class for what I thought would be an “easy A”… after all, how hard could art be…drawing and coloring and stuff, right?
Never was I more wrong than believing that statement. What happened instead was that this lady named Carolyn Gibson instilled in me a love of art that continues to this day, but much more than that, she helped me see and believe in a God who is faithful, strong, loving, and good.
I became a Christian when I was fourteen years old. It happened the summer after my Freshman year of high school. During my sophomore year, Carolyn went through a separation and eventual divorce from her husband. I remember how badly it broke my heart to see her hurting. One day I gathered the courage to tell her about how I was saved over the summer, and the difference it made in my life. She wasn’t a Christian then, but our conversation opened a door into a friendship that deepened over the years, especially after she herself became a Christian. We regularly exchanged birthday cards (she was born the day after me), emails, and phone calls.
When I became a writer almost ten years ago, she was the first to ask to be added to my mailing list, and like clockwork, she would email me a response every single week. Not just a thank you, but a well thought-out paragraph.
She never failed to encourage, uplift, and push me in my writing, photography and drawing. I remember one day in particular when she was on her way to have chemo. My phone dinged and when I looked down, I had a text from her. She was asking me to pray for her because she was having a bad day with nausea and was hoping to eat a little something before her treatment. She also wanted me to know that she liked my last devotion and proceeded to tell me why. I thought how giving it was that even in the midst of her pain, she still found the time to encourage me. She was the same way with everyone she came in contact with. She witnessed to her doctors, nurses, family, friends, and most strangers.
Monday, June 6, 2016, my dear and precious friend gained her angel wings. Throughout these last ten years fighting with cancer, she never lost her will to fight for life. If ever there was someone who loved family, friends, and God, it would be this dear friend of mine, and because I came to know and love her so very deeply, I’m sure of what she would want others to remember most about her. Beyond the art, beyond the love she had for others, and most of all, beyond the cancer, she would want her legacy to be the one who loved God through it all. It makes me smile to know that she will be leaving us with that and so much more.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8
It was hard for me to find the words to truly describe how much I loved this friend of mine, but in re-reading some of her emails, I thought I would leave you with her very words. For those of you who didn’t know her, this was her constant mind-set. No matter how much the cancer tried to steal her life, she continued to praise God with everything in her. Enjoy your rest dear one. I look forward to seeing you again, some sweet day.
“I praise God for life, love, and salvation! He does not make mistakes and is always in control! I have learned to know God’s heart more during my cancer than through other parts of my life. I felt His love especially strong once when I was so weak and flat on my back in pain from chemo. Then, He led me to think of Him on the cross dying out of love for me-to save me. I am amazed and thankful for His grace and mercy that He continually showers on me in this time of my life. I know He could have prevented my cancer or heal me at anytime, but somehow in His wonderful and loving plan, He uses it for His glory and the good of others and me. God bless you as you continue writing. In His love, Carolyn”
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Photo by Natasha Raichel
“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
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