How do you say goodbye to a treasured friend? Claudia Cunningham, a friend for over 24 years, passed this week.
She was my older friend, three years younger than my mother, but she did not mother me. We were friends.
The smartest dresser I knew. The first time I told her,
“You always look so fabulous.”
She answered, “If it doesn’t have pizzazz, why would I wear it!”
After many compliments, she offered to take me shopping. She had been a model for a short time, so she had a few lessons to teach.
We hit what she called, “the circuit”: Goodwill, Union Gospel Mission, Salvation Army and other second hand stores. She knew them all!
“You are tall. When you are looking for pants, look on the floor. The ones that are dragging are for you!”
“Put your hand out. Skim the jackets and sweaters like this. Look for structure in the shoulder. If it’s sagging, don’t bother to take if off the hanger.”
She told me what time of year, month, week was the best to shop.
But her talents went far beyond shopping. She was an artist. When I told her my spiritual journey, my encounter with the Holy Spirit, she listened. When my husband and I renewed our vows for our 25th wedding anniversary, she presented us with a tapestry. She had drawn a pattern based on my vivid story and made a tapestry wall hanging. (See picture)
My treasured friend was a giver of her time, talent, resources and knowledge.
We worked on church teams and Bible Studies together. When I was misunderstood by one of our team members, Claudia stood by me, even when it meant she would be misunderstood too! We learned how to support one another and to pray for each other.
A gracious host, Bible studies in her home meant you were welcomed with a pot of tea, china cups, freshly baked goodies and homemade candy on a decorative plate.
Memories flood my mind: Bible studies, pot lucks, Christmas parties, Easter celebrations, hot pot dinner, overnight stays at her beach home that my husband built…events of my life I cannot picture without her. Her presence weaves a tapestry in my mind of good, sad, hopeful, hard, and loving times.
Besides that when the economy tanked in 2008, our treasured friend was one of the first to offer my contractor husband projects she needed done. Her encouraging words that hard times fall on all of us, but God watches over his own, came from one who knew the good, the bad and the ugly times, but her heart was strengthened through it all.
We shall miss her, but the things she taught–those things of herself–I will pass on to the next generation; so her memory might live on not just in our hearts and minds, but in the actions of everyday life.
Treasured relationships are a strand of three cords, hard to find and not easily broken. What relationship in your life is a strand of three cords? Share your life with someone who will pick you up when you fall down, stand with you when no one else will, and teach you the ways of a softened heart: a heart that unconditionally accepts you, just as you are.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.