I love it when I sit down and the words are easy. They just flow, they don’t take too much mental energy and they don’t make me weepy when I re-read them.

These words are not going to be easy. I can tell. Because these are the words that keep coming to my mind: Forgive me.

At the beginning of the school year, Ben’s second grade teacher mentioned that her friend, Carrie, was battling a second go-around with breast cancer. She felt like we had a lot in common and I agreed. I reached out to Carrie just to say hi and let her know that I’m a good driver incase she needed rides to chemo. A couple of boys in her tribe (nephews I think) were drawing pictures of squirrels and selling them to raise money for Carrie’s fight. It reminded me of my own daughter’s need to stay busy during my diagnosis and the creation of Cozys for a Cure.

Carrie’s story ended differently than mine. Her funeral is today.

My interaction with Carrie was brief, but it was powerful. As an online “friend” I was able to see the truth that Carrie poured into her community throughout this ordeal. And I got to see the way that community rallied behind her and loved on her so fully.

But those words keep coming to me… Forgive me. Maybe something in your life is triggering those words for you too.

Forgive me for ever forgetting that wives and moms and friends die of cancer. Because I got out, it’s easy to sometimes think it wasn’t that big of a deal. I forget the ways God covered my heart with a balm of peace and protection. Carrie talked about that balm in a response to a question about suffering asked by her friend, Jamie Mathias Hanning.

“I compare suffering to the irritation a grain of sand causes in an oyster. The oyster releases a substance that coats the irritant and miraculously creates a pearl of beauty and worth. In the same way, if we surrender our suffering to God, He soothes and beautifies us in the same way. This happens not only for our sake, but for the world that watches. When followers of Jesus can learn to suffer joyfully, it clears a path for people to see the reality of God. That is something we can be joyful about for sure!”

Forgive me for sometimes wishing today could be over and we could just move on to tomorrow. I pridefully assume I will get many tomorrows.

Forgive me for forgetting that even the smallest act of kindness to a person in pain is potent medicine – for both the giver and the receiver.

I’m pretty sure Carrie understood the power of kindness and how desperately her friends and family would need to both give and receive it after her passing. That’s why instead of flowers, the family asked that acts of kindness be done today in honor of Carrie. This is the way it was worded in the Logan Daily:

In lieu of flowers, Carrie would be honored if you would do something good for someone and let the family know about it through a card or you may contribute to her sons’ college fund [Carrie Crawford] c/o Roberts Funeral Home – 60 West Hunter Street, Logan, Ohio 43138.

Instead of allowing those words, “Forgive me” to keep us in chains of guilt and condemnation, Carrie’s life and her death reminded us that we can use those same words to break free and do good.

She believed she would be with her Creator when this life was over. That where she is now, joyful and healed, in awe of her God. I’m not certain, but I bet if she could pass along a message from Him it would be something like this…

You are loved. You are forgiven. Now go live your life to the fullest.

Thank you, Carrie, for teaching us how to do that.