On Saturday I got the news that my critique partner and good friend of four years, Mary Proctor, lost the battle to cancer on Friday afternoon. I can't tell you how hard this hit. How much I'll miss her. How big an impact this godly woman had on my life.
It had been a while since I'd heard from Mary, but she'd been weighing heavily on my heart and mind this past week, and I emailed her just Thursday to ask her how she was doing and tell her I was praying for her. I doubt she ever read the message, but I'm glad the Lord prompted me to send it. Glad He spoke to my spirit to tell me to pray.
Today it seems fitting to remember Mary as her family and local friends are gathering for her funeral. I know this is more for me than my readers, but I beg your indulgence.
Mary's motto always came down to "Praise the Lord anyhow." No matter what went wrong, what discouragements came her way, what pain struck, that was her response. That was what I most loved about her. That her joy for the Lord bubbled out of her even in the darkest of times. That she let it carry her away so much she once injured herself dancing in church.
Grief, sorrow, are very personal, selfish things. I know Mary's happy, praising God and glorifying her Savior. I rejoice for her in that. But oh, how I'll miss her wise counsel. How I'll miss her long emails. How I'll miss finding her at conference and giving her a big hug.
Mary was my first critique partner, the first fellow-writer ever to read my work. In the last four years, she's read everything I've written. Offered her advice, never believing how valuable it was. Loved me and encouraged me. Spoken such amazing things into my life.
"Despair not small beginnings, Roseanna--that's what the Lord told me when I prayed about WhiteFire."
"I always sensed a deep spirit in you. I'm so glad to see it blooming."
"I believe you're going to make it, and make it big. I know it. Your time of success is coming soon."
I could always count on Mary to be a prayer warrior when I needed one. To offer honesty and truthfulness. To encourage and support.
I thank the Lord for the time I had to know and appreciate her, for the role she played in my life, and I pray I was even a fraction of the blessing to her that she was to me. I thank the Lord for the spirit He gave her, for the love that filled her. I thank the Lord for finally restoring her to wholeness, if not in the way I wanted.
And I thank Him, too, for a family to hold me while I cry. For a husband who just gathers me close and says, "I know." For a daughter who carefully writes "I love you Mommy" on a slip of paper and presses it into my hand. For a son who snuggles up beside me in silence while the storm rolls through.
I thank Him for giving me a tomorrow in which to remember her, and all the other loved ones that have gone before. I thank Him through smiles and tears, through joys and sorrows.
I thank Him for Mary.