Last year, one of our adult helpers was diagnosed with terminal cancer & given months to live. It was an incredibly difficult time for everyone. She was a young, vibrant woman & it seemed unbelievable that she would be taken from all of us so suddenly. She was known as "Momma Vicki" since she took on a motherly role with lots of our youth. They went to her with their issues & she gave advice, supported them, baked them goodies & even doled out some tough love as needed.
The day before she passed, Jesse & I took a small group of those closest to her over to her house to see Vicki & pray with her. I was so proud of our youth. I could tell they were obviously uncomfortable being so close to the death process, hearing her moan in pain, yet they held her hands, told her they loved her & held hands around her as we prayed a rosary. It was a beautiful experience & at that moment, I was reminded of the beauty of ministry. Without the ministry work, Vicki would not have been surrounded by all our love & prayers as she departed this world for next. Without the ministry work, these kids wouldn't have been impacted by Vicki's loving care & constant encouragement to better themselves while always giving back in some way.
The youth group meeting held after her passing was incredibly difficult. Her absence, both in our hearts & in the room, were glaringly obvious. I saw kids that haven't been to youth group in a long time & others who have drifted away show up out of support for her. It was a beautiful tribute to a beautiful spirit. The kids got up & told stories about Vicki, some caused laughter & others tears, but they were all poignant.
I spoke to the group as well. I reminded them that from the day I met her, Vicki had always wanted to be a mother. Although it wasn't God's plan for her to have biological children, she fulfilled that role with each & every one of our youth that she encountered. She was a mother to all of them & as her "children" it was now their responsibility to carry on her legacy & not forget the lessons she taught them. I think they all took that to heart & realized they need to go make a difference in the lives of others in the way she influenced them. I hear them mention her name, saying "You know what Vicki would say..." when they think of the advice she would give them.
Though Vicki isn't with us here, her presence is carried on by the kids who are her legacy. Even if each of us does one thing to continue her memory or treat someone kindly in the way she treated them, then she will continue to live on in our hearts.
Eternal rest, grant unto her O Lord & let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen