Yesterday, I attended the going home service of my beautiful friend, Daveida Wallace, joining together with several hundred other people, to bid her farewell.
It's been my honor, privilege and delight to be a part of Daveida's life -- not only to have been her friend and to have loved and served her, but to have been loved and served by her. This woman made such an impact on my life and the lives of so many others. We had only met back in September of 2010, but I felt like I had known her my whole life.
At the time, neither of us had a clue as to just how entwined our lives would become.
Daveida was a mother of three, a woman who had been battling breast cancer for some time; she was in pain, exhausted and had been told by her doctors that she'd be lucky if she made it to October. She was simply looking for help with meals to give her overwhelmed family members a break when she reached out to our pastor for help, who in turn, shared her story and request with my friend Michelle and I, both of us being breast cancer survivors ourselves.
Daveida told us later she had no great expectations of anything other than a few weeks worth of meals, and perhaps the pastor stopping by once or twice to pray and share some Scripture with her. She never expected two survivors to come her way and wind up as friends.
Michelle and I had similar non-expectations. Even though we'd survived our own cancer journeys, that Saturday morning in September we showed up on Daveida's doorstep, we really weren't sure WHAT to expect as we eyed up the "No Smoking--Oxygen In Use" sign attached to the front door. I remember the both of us taking a collective breath as we got ready to knock on her door, as if we were preparing to dive into unchartered waters.
When the door opened, we were greeted by a waif of a woman with barely-there hair, and huge sunken eyes, lugging an oxygen tank behind her. We had to strain to hear her breathless voice as she welcomed us into her home, shared her story, and just before we were ready to go, whispered a prayer over US!
Later that day, though, feeling SO overwhelmed by her many needs, Michelle and I realized something. We felt -- beyond blessed!! How was THAT even possible?
We went to be a blessing to Daveida, but walked away having the tables turned on us.
Every time we met with her, it was like that. Not just for us, but for everyone else who came to know her in the weeks and months that followed. Because, thanks be to God, October came and went and our delightful new friend remained among us, defying the doctors dire predictions! (That's our beautiful Dee in the middle, top row!)
Daveida wrote to me once that we'd be sisters forever. And that will not change just because she has left this world. In fact, I feel an even more special, sisterly connection to her because she passed away on my birthday. No, I am not angry, hurt, upset by that fact. Because I know that Daveida's with her Savior, Jesus Christ. She is FREE -- free from all hurt, pain, discouragement, sorrow, disease. And that is something to celebrate. Her birth into new life!
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it's not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:1-4, NLT
The soul of this precious woman left her body last Thursday evening and headed for her new home -- her home with Jesus. However, Daveida didn't just leave behind a weary body. She didn't just leave behind a grieving group of family and friends. She didn't just leave behind memories of brighter, happier, healthier days. No, she left behind much more than that.
Daveida Wallace left behind a legacy.
A legacy of love and service to others in need. A legacy of perseverance and strength in the midst of pain and suffering. A legacy of encouragement and hope, comfort and joy. And she didn't leave it laying by the wayside for all of us to look at or comment on or weep over.
Absolutely NOT! This woman of faith left behind a legacy for all of us to grab a piece of and run with. Just like she did.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. ~ 2 Timothy 4:7, NIV
As hard as this seems and as much as it hurts for us who loved her dearly, we are called to carry on Daveida's legacy. Pressing on. Moving forward. Leaning on our Lord Jesus Christ all the way, following in His steps, like she did. And we are to lean on one another as well.
Daveida didn't look at life as something to 'get through,' but as a gift to be enjoyed, savored and shared.
Last week, Daveida's light was gently, quietly extinguished by her Father God.
But not before He made sure each one of us who knew her and loved her were touched by that light and have added a portion of her flame to our own that burns for Jesus. To make our flames that much brighter as we also shine our lights in the dark places of this world.
May my sister's legacy continue on in all of us.
Daughter of the King
Good and Faithful Servant
I will miss you so much, dear sweet friend. Sisters forever!!
Until we meet again.................
I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy ~ Legacy, by Nicole Nordeman