By: Chaunte McClure
Memorial Day weekend is usually a time to celebrate the start of summer and, most of all, to honor those who died while serving our country. We gather with family and friends for a backyard barbeque, a trip to the beach, a fireworks show. Or maybe to go to a small-town festival, Memorial Day parade or wreath-laying ceremony.
For me, this Memorial Day weekend will include a celebration that I would have never imagined would happen so soon. I will celebrate the life a friend who died suddenly Sunday morning. I struggled with finding a topic to write about this week and I considered writing about her passing because that’s what I’ve been trying to cope with all week. For at least 24 hours I was in a state of shock and then I grieved. But I don’t want this to be a sad blog post and I’m not seeking sympathy or empathy. I just want to do two things: celebrate Nicole and remind you that life is short.
As I read the condolences on her Facebook page, these adjectives were constantly repeated: kind, sweet, humble, beautiful, and quiet. I would use the same words or words with similar meanings to describe her gentle soul. She was the kind of person who made a positive impact without being at the forefront. There are people who are often involved in the forefront and love the spotlight, but sometimes they are just getting the shine and not making an impact. Nicole had a servant’s heart, but she didn’t have to be on the front line. With a cheerful heart she served without the need to be noticed.
We served together Saturday in the Ronald McDonald Family Room at a local children’s hospital. Our church was scheduled to prepare and serve breakfast for families and patients and to do children’s activities. Because she was a teacher, I knew Nicole would be great with kids and when I asked her if she was available to help, she said “Yes, I am free.” She arrived Saturday morning with a smile, ready to serve. And she served well.
I was still excited Saturday night about our outreach ministry at the hospital, so I decided to text everyone to say thank you again. Nicole, the first to reply, said, “I really enjoyed it … great experience!”
Who would have known that that text would be last text I’d receive from her? Who would have known that would have been one of her last great experiences on this earth?
One week later, we’ll celebrate her life as a mother, daughter, sister, teacher, friend, colleague, servant and Christian.
Life is short and sometimes it takes incidents like Nicole’s to remind us of that fact. That’s why we should love more, serve more, and enjoy life more.
A Message to Nicole:
Nicole, I’ll miss you at vacation Bible school this summer. We’ll remember you next time we go to the children’s hospital.
I’m grateful for the fond memories I have of you. We had the most fun when I hosted the online jewelry parties and you would have adrenaline rushes while trying to beat the other ladies to the accessories. Maybe I’ll host a party in your honor soon.
In the meantime, we’ll celebrate your life on Saturday.