13 07 2014

I have to confess I am extremely fond of social networks; I belong to several with Facebook being the favorite. I have connected with so many people from both past and present relations that have brought me great pleasure. Many are folks that were close to me at some point in life, Lady Brendaothers are ones that I never knew well but our paths crossed somewhere in life, and still others I may have never met before but because of a common friendships or interests we end up connecting in the world I have come to call “Planet FB.” One of the largest groups I’ve connected with has been people from my graduating class, Fremont Ross, Class of 1973. That’s been a fun crowd to associate with, something I did very little of back when we were all in school. Because of the lifestyle I adopted by my junior year the people in my life were older and I spent little time with kids my own age. Planet FB has given me a chance to recapture a little bit of my youth once again and get to know some awesome people like I never did before.

One of those is the gal you see in the picture, her name is Brenda and unless my memory is wrong we never spoke more than a few words in all our school years. But when I received her friend request I immediately accepted, for even though we had so little interaction I remembered her as a very sweet girl who in one part could be quite unassuming, while another part allowed to be friendly to all. The little exchange we had came through a mutual friend one afternoon for just a few moments, but in those moments I came away with the impression that this was someone special. What was it that made her appear that way to me so quickly? I didn’t know then but the answer came 40 years later.

After getting reacquainted with so many classmates, Cathy and I made a point of traveling back to our home area of Northwest Ohio for class reunions. We have enjoyed ourselves so much interacting with this extraordinary grouping of friends and old acquaintances. I say extraordinary because after all these years still a large gathering will come together for a night of fun, remembering and sharing. The last reunion was no exception, people gathered and had a wonderful time together; I was particularly overjoyed to see a couple of old friends that I had not spoken to since those school days. But there was one person I really looked forward to seeing with hope that she could make it there. It didn’t take long to recognize her for she stood out in radiant beauty, greeting each person she saw with one of the most beautiful smiles I had ever seen, and not only that but a hug and cheerful words for each individual. There she was, the belle of the ball, there was Brenda. We only got to spend a few short moments together because everyone wanted their chance to greet, and even more, be blessed by this beautiful lady. I took every opportunity I could to just watch her, to observe who this person that interacted with me more via a keyboard than we ever did orally, and what I saw was awesome. There was joy, overwhelming joy with each person she talked to, yes smiles, hugs and laughter, but still something more. What I saw was with each person she came in contact with she gave them a present, something that maybe others would take for granted, but not the ones that knew her and joyfully accepted that gift, took it away and still hold it precious to this day, you see on that day Brenda gave the best present she had to offer, she gave of herself.

Each word she spoke to individuals had being and meaning meant for them alone, and even though each was different it was still the same present to all in its fullness, that is you are so special to me and I am so glad we’re here together. Yes the beauty that poured forth from Brenda was beyond radiant that day, even to the point of partially covering what else was there, a gifted lady with an almost fragile body who wore a hat on her head to cover her lack of hair; you see Brenda was battling cancer. Here she was, in the midst of chemo and radiation treatments that had left her weak and frail, spreading more joy, encouragement and sunshine to others than any ten of us combined could have mustered; on this special day she was the most beautiful and strongest person I knew, she had become one of my heroes.

As the months have passed since that day we corresponded several time, me letting her know that I was always praying for her, Brenda always appreciative of that fact while at the same time posting many things related to where she grew her strength and hope. For as happy and filled with joy I found her to be, I soon learned that her greatest joy was in her love for her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Here was one that didn’t practice a religion, didn’t turn to God in her hours of need, it was always there, a true and living faith in the One she saw as the Giver of life. In that knowledge I see where she realized that when this life concludes, it’s really not over, it’s the start of a new beginning, far precious, more wonderful than she could imagine. That knowledge not only brought her joy, but sharing that with others as she did so often on her Facebook wall. “Hey everyone, I’ve found something special and it is so awesome and I care for you so much I want each of you to join in with me in this joy, in this Gift!” This is how I came to know Brenda, from an unassuming little girl in school, to a shining example of faith, hope, and love. Thank You, Sweet Brenda.

Last week we received word that this Hero of mine, this fellow “Traveler of the Rock Road,” had gone home, her eternal home. As I pondered the news, missing my friend and feeling for her loved ones who will miss her so dearly I also drew a mental picture that brought a smile to my face of a beautiful girl, radiant with joy and a million dollar smile happier beyond imagination, which in turn makes me think of one of my favorite songs, “I Can Only Imagine.” I’d like to close now with a few lines of that song, but with a few different words as my final tribute to a Friend, an Encourager, A Sister in Christ–Brenda.

I can only imagine

What it will be like

When I walk

By your side

I can only imagine

What her eyes will see

When your face

Is before her

I can only imagine.


Surrounded by Your glory, what will her heart feel

I bet she will dance for you Jesus or perhaps in awe of you be still

Will she stand in your presence or to her knees will she fall

I’m guessing she’ll sing hallelujah, or maybe just won’t be able speak at all

I can only imagine, OH, I CAN ONLY IMAGINE!

Thanks for reading.




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