When I was little, death wasn't something that I thought about. I spent a lot of time thinking about unicorns, my dreams of becoming a mermaid and the reality of infinity (that one took up a lot of time when I should have been sleeping). At that age, you don't understand the reality of it. Like my mom's daughter's friend asked, "Will I still get a card from grandpa this year even though he is in heaven?"

When you become a teenager, death seems unfair because it doesn't happen all that often. It is shocking but it still seems like something distant and the importance of your latest crush or what who said to who is so much more present that the reality of death is more easily pushed aside.

Last summer, that reality became all too crystal clear when my Opa died but he had been sick, he had lived a good Christian life and he was ready to go home. When Lauren's heart stopped, death became real.

It is a difficult thing, to think about death, because you tend to think that for some, those for whom it is expected, it is easier. Maybe in a way it is, but it is still the same. Someone who is very loved is taken.

This summer, as we celebrate the miraculous healing of Lauren's heart, our best friends are having their world rocked by an unexpected and very terrible loss. Sometimes I hate getting older, because of the way that you understand death. You begin to see it more often. It never gets easier or less terrible. If anything, the finality of death and fleeting nature of life seem so all encompassing that it is hard to see the hope past the grave. It is even harder when the person who leaves us is a light in the world.

There is one woman who my sister and I talk about often who passed just over a year ago. She was the wife of our old pastor and a good friend of my dad's parents. Our interaction with her was limited but every single instance was memorable. She had a way of looking at you like she was really present with you and cared about you. She would listen without thinking about what she was going to say next. And she was incredibly sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. When my grandma choked and we got the call that she was in the hospital brain dead, I don't remember much of that time except a few moments with the pastor's wife. Something about her let me pour out my guilt that I felt because the day before I had chosen to clean my room instead of visit my grandma on what was her last day. She looked at me and simply said, "You don't need to feel guilty. She knew that you loved her very much." In that simple statement, I was allowed to grieve. Not for what I had done wrong, but for the grandma that I was going to miss.

There are few people that have the same kindness and gentleness about them as the pastor's wife did.

But today, our best friends are losing a mom who was just like that. She is the type of person who makes you feel welcome and loved, even if she has only just met you. She is someone who can honestly be described as kind, a descriptor often thrown around but rarely really applicable. Over the last few weeks, the verse, "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." (Philippians 4:5) has been on my heart as I have felt the Lord calling me to transform my life with that verse. I am not gentle. But our friends' mom is a perfect example of how to live out this verse. Doing things, not to be noticed, but because it is an act of love. Speaking kindly to someone who is out of place. Making a lunch because someone is without. Smiling constantly. When people like this are taken from the Earth, it isn't only the family that grieves.

To our dear friends, we are grieving with you. Your mom is an amazing woman and there aren't many like her. A beautiful woman with a beautiful heart. We are blessed to have known her. Thank you for sharing her with us. We love you.

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