She appeared one Sunday morning in church last year. A smile that radiated love, dark eyes that reached into your soul, a presence that was magnetic and somehow magical. The usual “is it your first visit?” etc, etc revealed that she was in town with her husband for cancer treatments. She looked so vivacious and glowing, with a beautiful tan in her bright pink dress, that I almost assumed it was her husband getting treatments. Then I saw the tell-tale patient wristband and tape from the chemo portal peeking above the neckline of her dress.
Over the next few months she was in and out of Houston for treatments. We spent time together. We shared fears, hopes, laughter, tears. She came out of nowhere and yet I instantly felt a sisterly connection to her. She stayed at my house on one occasion, I helped her through some appointments. She joined our big family Easter dinner with her husband. We sat together in church. We prayed together. Then she got a clear scan and was off to Argentina and Mexico to visit family and friends.
I carried her in my heart. Many friends asked about her. We assumed no news meant good news. Two months ago, I checked in with her via texting – her preferred way to stay in touch. The reply came: “Everything is fine now. You are always in my heart“. Some part of me knew what that meant. Some other part of me couldn’t take in the full meaning of that message.
Three days ago I received an email from her husband letting me know that she had passed away a month ago. How could this be? … and yet I knew. She had tried to tell me in her text, and had also tried to tell me she was at peace.
I feel blessed to have to known Maria. Anyone touched by her fiercely loving spirit will always remember her in their hearts. She tried to pour love enough to last a lifetime into her young children and husband. I pray that they will be able to draw on the power of that love to sustain them through the painful healing yet to come.
Dear Maria, you will always be in my heart too … may you rest in peace.