As I sat there holding my friend’s hand, I knew her days here on earth were about to end. She was getting close to walking hand and hand with her Savior. Her life was complete and she was headed “Home.” I had told her before, but did she really, truly know how much she impacted my life? I don’t think she will ever fully realize the difference she made in my life, that because of her, I will never be the same.
Our relationship started with me calling her “Mrs. Johnson.” And while I don’t remember all the academic lessons she taught us, I do have a few memories of that Kindergarten year. I could tell you that her hair was a reddish/blonde color and that she had a silver whistle she blew at recess. I remember her being firm, but also showing love to her class. Even after graduating from kindergarten, Mrs. Johnson always had a hug and a smile ready for her former student whenever I saw her in the hallways or at church.
I grew up, graduating from high school and then college, and found myself a teacher with a class of my own. As a new teacher, I was swept under her wing. She gave me some of her recipes and we started swapping books. We would talk about teaching and raising kids. I was wearing so many “hats” – wife, mom, teacher and sometimes life would just get overwhelming and busy. She always knew when to listen and when to offer some helpful “golden nugget” from her own experience and knowledge.
Then, the bump in the road happened, or should we say mountain. She was diagnosed with cancer. She didn’t know what the outcome would be. However, our talks turned into monthly dates. I looked forward to these times with this woman who had become my mentor and friend. Our times were filled with laughter, tears, listening and lots of talking and advice, usually with Cracker Barrel or Panera thrown in the mix. She would tell me about “old school” and how things were so different. She would brag on the Lord and cry over the sweet testimony she had to share with others. She would tell me how she was sharing her faith with neighbors and people she crossed paths with – what an example for me to see. We both praised the Lord when the cancer went into remission and we were able to enjoy a couple more years of friendship that seemed sweeter because of how precious her time was.
Now, I sit holding her hand while she peacefully sleeps. And I think of how I am holding the hand of a teacher, friend and sweet sister in Christ. Did she really know what a difference she made? I wonder. If she impacted me this way, just think of how many other children she made a difference with. Yes, she taught me my letters and how to read. She taught me numbers and many Bible stories. But what I remember most is not her teaching style or her pretty red hair. I remember what an impact she made on me and so many other children. As I kissed her cheek for the last time, I smiled and thanked the Lord for bringing Mrs. Johnson into my life. I will always be grateful.