In our holiday series "The Gift of Generosity," the Herald-Leader is inviting readers and writers to share stories of how they were helped during a time of need. Perhaps it will inspire you to give of yourself this holiday season. This is the fourth and final segment of our series.
My daughter Jackie and I had just reached the stage when mothers and adult daughters can be friends, after going through the struggles and strains of her teenage years and young adulthood.
She was a young woman who loved life. She laughed a lot, and people of all ages were attracted to her wonderful, joyous personality and contagious enthusiasm. She married a young man who immediately became part of our family circle. We enjoyed sharing occasional meals together and spent many evenings eating popcorn and playing cards or board games.
Jackie loved to help others, and she was working on a master of social work degree so she could do that more effectively. She and Todd were youth group leaders at church. The teens were drawn to both of them because of their openness and loving personalities.
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It was frightening and heart-wrenching when Jackie was diagnosed with melanoma. She died 14 months later, just before Christmas in 1999. She was 29 years old.
After the shock of her illness and death began to lessen and days turned into months, I began to wonder whether, as time passed by, anyone would remember that she had lived among us and blessed our lives. One of my fears was that her 29 years of life on this earth would be forgotten. Did her life have any meaning to anyone? People go on with their busy lives after a while, and life goes on.
I received an answer to my question when Jackie's birthday arrived the first year she was gone.
A card came in the mail from a person I had not communicated with in a long time. Even though we live in the same town, our paths never crossed. Yet, she sent a card that said simply, "Remembering Jackie." I was deeply touched by that simple act of remembering.
The next year another card arrived, and another the year after that. I have been receiving a card every year for 10 years now. What a blessing it is to know that someone still remembers Jackie and takes the time to let me know that she truly has not been forgotten.
It is not a complicated or expensive endeavor to touch another person. This friend probably does not realize how deeply she has touched me and how her thoughtfulness has brought comfort and healing to me year after year. By the simple act of sending a card she has helped remind me that I don't have to be afraid.
Jackie has not been forgotten.