This afternoon, I learned that our Second Reader — a warm, wise, and compassionate woman who happened to share my fondness for long runs and good laughs — had passed on unexpectedly.
Tears have clouded my eyes several times this evening as I’ve thought about how much I’ll miss seeing Lynda around … but every time I’ve thought of her, those tears have evaporated into laughter, because every single memory I have of her includes something funny she did or said.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve caught her desperately trying to stifle a giggle during church. Many times, we’ve had to avoid looking at each other on a Wednesday night, lest we lose our last remaining shred of self-control and burst into uncontrollable laughter over some silly thing that struck us as funny.
I’ve even seen her manage to be funny under duress. I ran with her in November 2006 as she completed her first half-marathon. She wasn’t a particularly happy camper in those later miles, when the hills seemed terribly steep and our feet seemed terribly tired, but she still made me laugh with her apt — and utterly hilarious — observations about the whole experience.
She thought I was doing her a favor by adding a few minutes to my usual per-mile pace so I could keep her company along the way.
In point of fact, she did me a favor by allowing me to accompany her. I’ve run a lot of races and collected a lot of finisher’s ribbons and medals and things, but for all the pretty trinkets I’ve received, I’ve yet to take home anything as beautiful as that dazzling smile I saw on Lynda’s face as she reached the finish line.
Somewhere along the line, while I was off chasing butterflies instead of training, it seems that Lynda picked up her pace, and now she’s left the rest of us in the dust as we “run with patience the race that is set before us,” as the verse from Hebrews says.
And yet, somehow, the lovely qualities she expressed — qualities she got from her Father — are beside me still, her irrepressible joy echoing in a child’s laughter, her tireless work for the good of others buzzing along on my bees’ wings, and her warm love surrounding me in another friend’s embrace.
As I move forward with the work of drying my tears, conquering my own course, and learning to elevate my thought to embrace the Truth of being that lies somewhere far beyond the sometimes cruel limitations of mortal perception, I pray that the Father will never allow me to lose sight of Lynda or forget how to see — and express — the infinite good she reflected.
Keep running strong, girlfriend … and don’t drink up all the Gatorade before I catch up to you, hey?