How do I explain an unusual pain that pierces the heart of losing someone whose voice has become important to your story? Yet, it’s someone you’ve never met in person. Someone you could’ve lingered over coffee with. Someone who gets your thoughts. Someone who puts words to aches you can barely look at much less represent in beautiful words. I’ve been thinking a lot. The woman who authored a book I spotlighted here passed away not long ago. The absence of her voice has hit me. Her husband has decided to pick up her story from where she had to leave it. I’m grateful as he’s a voice needed in this cancer world. But it also left me a little angsty. Why. What are these uneasy feelings? I’ve sat with this unanswered edgeyness for several weeks.

In the middle of this pondering I was brought into another’s story that was important in my processing of cancer, Kara Tippetts. To be honest I’d drifted from her blog after she had passed. Why? Was it the new voices attempting to fill that space? I’d also done so when Holley Kitchen passed- although in that case, it had really become someone else’s story chronicled through her space. So I wasn’t sure I was up for this newly released recap of her story.

Kara’s team created a film on this season of her story. That last chapter. It was hard and honest. Her evident strengths of relator and empathy were so tangible as so many gathered around her to encourage her as well as be encouraged by her. She drew people in with her humor as well as her faith and honesty in walking this final chapter in love and grace. I had sat alone with my box of Kleenex as I’d read her books. I knew her story. On paper. But halfway through this filmed biography, I was struck to my core. She articulated something I’d been wrestling with so desperately and a part of me was almost feeling uncertain about looking at its roots. When she said, “I’m not afraid of dying” “But I don’t want to leave this place.” “Like a father asking his daughter to leave the party early and she’s throwing a fit.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t want to look at the space my life resides in empty or filled by others and other things. I want to believe my place in this world matters. Not in a selfish narcissistic way. In a heart way. Realistically I know life moves on. But it’s hard to know that after someone no longer occupies their “space” things fill in around it and absorb it into something new. It stung to realize this pressing upon my heart. But it is also a little easier to recognize it for what it is. I will occupy my space well. Leave imprints. To be present today. Intentional. Part of that is to move through the grief of losing important voices in my life and to offer to be that voice to others. I will offer a perspective from where I sit, on my experiences. If there is anything I can clarify or encourage you in- let me know.

You are not alone. The space you occupy matters. It has weight and value to it. It is important. Make it beautiful. Find those voices that encourage you and remind you of the beauty even in the broken and hard spaces. I am truly grateful to these women and their generosity in encouraging my heart and the imprints left behind.

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