Thursday, May 27, 2010

Losing Someone Special

This week had a major loss.

We lost one of our beloved cafeteria ladies.  Her name was Chris, and I've been buying my lunch from her every day for the last 9 years.

Her death was sudden and caught us all by surprise.  She was in her mid-50s and seemed to be of perfect health.

But perhaps it was her soul that had reached perfection through God's grace, for God became happy with the work she did here on Earth and called her Home.  He scooped her up and took her to Heaven, catching us all by surprise.

Now the very last things on her mind are school lunches and ID cards; she is experiencing the Beatific Vision of God Himself!

Monday morning was very difficult for all of us.  The vacant space where she normally stood screamed its silence to all of us.  That night, when I went home, I couldn't stop thinking about her, and I wondered what we could do to honor her.  I felt that we needed to fill that space with love.

So I bought a pot of miniature pink roses and the students made cards, and--before long--her work space was showered with love.  The kids chose to address their cards directly to her, and I was very touched by what they said.  They truly wrote with such feeling!

What I will miss most about Chris is her happy smile, cheery personality, and the way we used to joke with one another every day.

That's why I always got in her lunch line.  I knew she'd be in a good mood, no matter what kind of challenges she was facing that day.  She was always happy to see me, and she was always happy to see every kid.

When I got in her line, I knew I could count on a smile.

I knew I'd get an opportunity to laugh with her.

I knew that she would say, "Three-forty!" in that happy tone, and--as I would hand over my ID card and frequent buyer's card--she'd usually tell me, "Your balance is low again but you're just 3 hole-punches away from a free lunch!"  And then we would laugh about how my money disappears so quickly!

What I didn't realize last Thursday was that her words to me were saying something more than we thought they were.  I had given her my punch card, and she proclaimed, "You have just ONE MORE to go!"  What neither of us realized then was that she was also speaking of our time together.  I had just one more opportunity to buy my lunch from her.

So on Friday, she joyfully gave me my free lunch.

And that was the end.

It was my last time seeing her.

Chris, you will be missed every single day -- because I cannot buy my lunch and not think of you.  Be at peace with God, as I believe you surely are.