I love this guest post for many reasons. 1. It’s by one of my best friends, written for her birthday, today (Happy Birthday Janelle!), 2. It’s about Cindi, one of the most inspiring women I’ve ever known (here’s her own guest post from 2016.), and 3. Like this rose photo by Curt, Cindi had a way of shining beautiful and fierce through even the bleakest storm. . . Thanks Janelle, for celebrating her spirit. – Evi
My friend Cindi died just over a year ago – on November 6, 2018.
That seems like a pretty strange way to begin a conversation about gratitude. I realize that. The truth is that I’m carrying around the weight of that loss a bit more heavily this week than I have in a while. It’s a bit of a shadow looming in the corner of my vision, although it also comes with a certain humble awareness that you have to love before you can mourn. Anniversaries tend to bring this out in a person, I suppose.
Here’s the deal. If I’m going to talk about gratitude, I can’t really think of anyone that I’d rather talk about than Cindi. She was a gratitude champion, somehow managing, even in the last months of her life, to think about others, to put plans in place to serve others, to raise up the needs of others.
Cindi lived with multiple myeloma for over a decade, and some of us had the incredible privilege to catch a glimpse into the process by which she was able to LIVE with multiple myeloma, the ways in which she sought to relegate it to the sidelines of her life and the ways in which she actively made the choice to not be defined by an illness.
Remarkably, somehow, she was defined by gratitude. By “Glory be to God” and by “I saw God at work this week.” It was pretty mind boggling, really. While the rest of us lamented our work woes, our parenting woes, our “I don’t like my haircut” woes, Cindi was quietly choosing to relish her life. She loved her husband well, she connected with her nieces as if they were her own children, she mentored the heck out of her friends.
Cindi recognized the challenges of her illness, though. She would remind us that she didn’t expect that she’d get to “15 or 50” – her reference to a milestone anniversary and a milestone birthday. Amazingly, though, she did. And when Cindi turned 50, do you know what she did? 50 random acts of kindness. Notes in the mail to friends, $5 bills on the windshield wipers of strangers’ cars, coffee for the person in line behind her at the coffee shop, and more, and more, and more, until she got to 50.
Also, by the way, today is MY birthday. It would be pretty darned easy to just sit back, soak up the call from my mom and from close friends, check out the Facebook birthday shout-outs, you know…just generally focus on me. But instead I think I’ll follow the lead of a mentor and friend and throw some love out into the world. Gratitude in action, my friends. It’s a beautiful day. Enjoy!