This Thursday I am thankful but in an unexpected way. Continuing Thankful November may be harder than first thought:
This earth lost a woman of great worth today for heaven has claimed its' prize. A true earth angel. Sue Gilbert slipped from life to eternal life today and found herself looking into the face of the man she's known so well. Never have I ever experienced death so closely before and never will a woman that has been so alive be thought of as dead to me. She is still alive, alive with Christ forever.
Tears slide down my face as I type these thankful words because my heart is simultaneously experiencing the balance of sorrow and delight. I am so powerfully grateful, beyond words I do confess, to have met Mrs. Sue Gilbert. Now I can go on and say that to have just met her would be worthy of a post all of its' own. But so much more was experienced across a desk, a dinner table, a love seat . . . That I . . . I struggle to find the few words that are needed to fill this blog post space. You don't want to read forever but my thankfulness to God for this lady would definitely last forever long.
She was my counselor
Put simply, my family would not have the anticipation rising of another Thanksgiving spent together, if it weren't for my Mrs. Sue. To save the confidentiality necessary, I will leave my heart's cry there. Thankful. This Thanksgiving, the Blalocks, Clements, Samalas, Palacios, Caigles, and Siddalls should all live in one accord, grateful for Mrs. Sue and the blessing of freedom she brought us by way of her gift of counseling. God's gift in her.
As for me personally, well I don't mind sharing a little. She changed my life. Well, Christ through her. I went from being a shell of who I was meant to be to who I am today . . . Faulty on my own but pursuing Christ and His story for me and therefore thriving! Sure, bad days, weeks, even months but God is my hope, my refuge, and the only One Who is worthy of my greatest affection and allegiance and in Him do I trust to get me through the good, the bad, the ugly, and even the really ugly. He used Mrs. Sue to show me that I have a future. That I am not owned by any earthly being but by Christ. Because of Mrs. Sue, I learned to break free from the bondage of pleasing and to see myself as a beautiful daughter of an all powerful and yet graceful King. She taught me as many times as it took for me to learn. So much patience. The subject that took the longest was the fact that Jesus had already paid the price for my wrong doings and short comings. I no longer needed to. No need to punish myself for my misdeeds or others' towards me. I am not perfect because of Mrs. Sue. I know I don't have to be perfect because of Mrs. Sue. Praise God!
I saw her change many lives. As my life and a few of the closest around me's lives were changed by visiting her office once (sometimes twice) a week, I spread the word. If you need to cry . . . Go see Mrs. Sue. If you need to laugh . . . Go see Mrs. Sue. If you think you have too many issues . . . Go see Mrs. Sue. If you don't want to deal with your issues . . . For heaven's sake, GO SEE MRS. SUE!!! And cry you would, no matter how bravely you entered her door. There was just something about her face that made you say, "Okay, here's a safe place." Laugh, yes you CERTAINLY did! I was thinking about that earlier, smiling just a little. The woman truly opened up the door to laughter for me again. I know she did this for others too. Laughter is such good medicine and I believe she prescribed it in heavy doses. I smile now when I think of her. Right now, I'm smiling.
One of the reasons she was so trusted as a counselor, was because she was authentic. Authenticity was all she knew. There were no pretenses. She was Mrs. Sue. The end. She made no apology for who she was but then again, she didn't need to. I told my friend Keri a few minutes after she went to heaven that I thought Mrs. Sue probably fits in there more than she did here. She was a little weird for this earth. Was she perfect? No way. She'd tell you that in about 2 seconds. Again, she knew she didn't have to be. That knowledge is powerful when seeking a holy life. Your weakness is just made perfect . . . Well, you know.
She was my family
After I moved to college, there was a season where I was only in contact with my mom. That's it. No other family members. Most because of my lack of gumption (that would follow after counseling of course!) and three because of extenuating circumstances. I soon would know family community again but for that short season, I was almost alone on this earth. There were many who stepped into the role of family in that needed time. Mrs. Sue was one of them. She became the Grandmother I had not been allowed to have. She became the mom for the 6 days a week that mine couldn't be. She became the sisters, that I missed so desperately. Mrs. Sue knows all my secrets and to heaven they have all been taken. Not just because she was my counselor but also because she was family and one of my dearest friends . . .
She was one of my very best friends
Oh, how I miss her right now. Already and she's only been gone from this earth for mere hours. She knows my secrets, yes. She was a light in a dark time, yes. She LOVED. me for who I was, no matter what state I was in. And then there's my love for her . . . Oh goodness, I could go on and on.
I love the way her eyes twinkled
Her smile was ravishing and her make-up almost always perfect, which made me chuckle through many conversations involving tears. Her love for people was astounding and her need to champion them, inspiring. Her arms were beautiful. She hugged so well. Her thoughts so intelligent. No one could have thought as far reaching into the mind of a person, without throwing a curve ball of judgment as she could. The way that she was gifted in her communication was just plain ridiculous. She could tell a person that they were prideful and somehow keep them in their chair for another hour, as they poured their heart out to her in their need. Not many can do that, even counselors. She was a gift. Bottom line. The woman was a saint. Yes, I looked up to her. Can you tell? Haha.
Her talks were enlightening, encouraging, uplifting, bewildering, challenging, and all together lovely to enjoy. I loved her. I love her.
She was my mentor
I want to be stinkin' just like her! Well, my own form of her anyway (she would be frustrated to hear me want to repeat who she was . . . She didn't think overly highly of herself, just highly enough to be confident in sharing her life with others, knowing Christ had redeemed her). When I didn't know what to do, she gave me options, when I told her I wasn't ready, she mentioned sweetly that I was already doing it and didn't know. After I offered excuses for my poor behavior, one look told me she had already moved on and so should I. She lent me an ear and then told me where to go to find the answer. . . She sent me to Jesus. Always. She prayed with me and those are the sweetest times.
If I can attempt to live as half of the woman that she was on this earth, I have achieved much. Unfortunately, attempting to achieve greatness was not what she did so therefore I have already fallen short. She would just tell me to live "called out" and to not give up on loving, living, laughing, dreaming, praying, being, and seeing what God's will was as I walked in light of His steps.
I will miss her
I've never experienced loss so closely before, as I mentioned at the top of this post. I feel as if my lungs have been sucked of all their air. I feel helplessly lost in my heart's pounding rhythm. I have concerned myself with the feeling that I might unravel upon her death. Like my victories shall crumble as her life passes on to the next eternal. This is unrealistic considering my knowledge that God used Mrs. Sue as an instrument of His power and that HE will remain in me. I know this. I still felt the fear. That fear has passed with her. Seriously though, I feel odd and shaky and I have wondered what I might do tomorrow in light of her passing so many times tonight that my head can't stand the thought even once more. Nothing seems worthy of the honor in which I wish to bestow her. My grief has brought me to two places. This blog post. And my dance. I will dance for her. Tomorrow, I will pick myself out of the bed oh so early to take Malli to school and then I will dance. I will throw what I could do before work aside and I will choreograph SOMETHING in her honor. It's the best gift I have to give.
The end of my post will be my words of Gratefulness to God for Mrs. Sue Gilbert. Forgive me for my lack of eloquence in this post. It's raw. My heart is raw. If you chose to read it anyway, all the way to here, you may just feel raw too. Just in case you are wondering, I was able to spend time with her in July, look her in the eyes as we exchanged meaningful, lasting words, and then enjoyed phone calls since then, including one with her only a few days ago where we did much the same thing. I am blessed. There was warning. Some never get that and so I am thankful once again for something else in this sad night. A little more time.
"God! My heart hurts so badly. I can't believe she's gone. Selfishly, I just want her here. BUT GOD . . . You wanted her with You. And that was the best plan. She's with you now. She's happy. She's healthy. She sees Your face. She's worshiping you as only she could. She's walking the streets of gold. She's received her crown. She's feasting! Maybe her favorite part! Haha! God how could I ever thank you enough for blessing my life with being a part of hers. A very small part. You ordained our meeting 5 years before you would take her home. I almost missed her but not really, it was all part of Your plan. Thank you. I love her so much. I'm crying because I won't see her or hear her voice for possibly a long time and that makes me sad. BUT GOD . . . I will see her again. Thank You for that too. May my life be a reflection of Who You are by way of living out her example to me. May the words she spoke into my ears continue to reverberate. May my desire to bring to fruition all of the dreams we discussed be renewed by every passing day. May you accomplish in me all of the things she believed in me. She saw what Your plan for me is and even though she may not have known that she wouldn't see it accomplished with earthly eyes, she knew that you finish what You start and that this was only the beginning of the story that is yet to be told. Keep writing and I'll keep telling and I don't know if you do this but if so, tell my Mrs. Sue that I'm proud of her. I miss her and that I can't wait to see her again. I'll make her proud as I make You proud. That's all she ever wanted of me. To see more and more of You in me. I love you God and I can't wait to see how this story ends. You are good. Amen."
Special condolences to the Gilbert & Camps, along with other close friends and family. My heart is with you now.
To Mrs. Sue . . .
A wobbly smile and a BIG "See ya later."
You are LOVED. by me, forever and always.