For Ronda

As I type this, my hands are shaking. I can’t seem to control the tears that are falling from my face. I just found out that a wonderful friend of mine from my church passed away in her sleep over the weekend. I’m reminded of her infectious smile, her giving heart, her unconditional love and acceptance of anyone, and the joy she brought to all she encountered. It hardly seems real and yet I know it is. She was a mentor, a friend, and a truly inspirational woman who never let the struggles in life weigh her down.

Ronda was a school teacher before she retired. She touched so many lives along the way. Anyone who encountered her is better for it. She brought an earnestness and openness that anyone she met felt as if they were meeting a long lost friend. She helped me through so much when my father died. She made me push myself to do more. She would always tell me that it was important to try even if you fail because without trying, you’ll never be able to succeed. I can’t even begin to imagine not seeing her every week. Her husband was retired military. The man was scary smart. He had a wicked sense of humor and I adored him. He was injured in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He had a barrage of medical issues but he never lost his sense of faith and he adored Ronda. She also took care of her mother and that was a very trying time for her. When her husband passed, her mom passed within a week of that incident. I can’t imagine what she went through. It was hard enough to lose my dad but I don’t think I could have handled what she did.

This damn virus prevented me from seeing her for the last few months. I had thought of her often and should have called her but she was hard of hearing and I didn’t think she could hear me. Ronda didn’t have to hear much. Her heart heard everything. She could tell when a person wasn’t alright. She knew just what to say and when to say it. It was her gift from God. She could make a stranger feel like a long lost friend who had come home and she radiated love and kindness in all she did. She believed in God with all her heart and you would never hear a bad word come out of her mouth about anyone. She chose to see the best in people.

Her death leaves a gaping hole for all that knew and loved her. But Ronda was like so many others. The impact she had on all those she touched leaves a legacy not just through her children and grandchildren, but those who felt the love she provided. The kids in the Sunday School classes, her students, children in Vacation Bible School and so many other areas are too numerous to mention. What I hope we all take from her is that we should cherish the time we have and treat each other, no matter what, with unconditional love and acceptance.

So you may not care about Ronda and that’s ok. But there are Ronda’s all over the world who bring light to very dark hearts. They bring healing to those who are hurting, and even provide a shoulder when a hug is needed. (Albeit through this virus that’s more difficult.) If you have a Ronda type of person in your life, let them know what they mean to you. The name doesn’t have to be the same. Those who help guide us out of darkness always seem to sting the most when they are called to their unearthly home. Savor the time. Thank them while you can. Don’t wait until someone you care for is gone. Take a moment to catch your breath, let your blessings sink in and embrace the time you are given with others. You never know. You may be seen as someone’s Ronda. You might be the light that brings a person out of the darkness they deal with.

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