My heart aches. Writing has been difficult. Sometimes life is sad. I always think that if I don’t have anything positive to say, that I shouldn’t say anything at all. God says it is time to write, so here I am.
I lost one of my cheerleaders last week. I like to think she is still watching and cheering but just from a different seat. My stepmom, Leta Gregory, went to Heaven after battling a rare renal cancer for a little over a year.
I met Leta when I was 12. She was my friend before she was family. During my teenage years, she was my youth group leader at church. She and I had a special bond. She had a way (as many of you who knew her would attest) of getting things out of you that you had no intention of sharing. She asked lots of questions because she cared. She quickly became my sounding board for my struggles as a teen. This relationship continued throughout my life.
Leta never met a stranger. She made others feel loved and special. She would know everything about you after your first introduction! When she was at Vanderbilt hospital a few weeks ago, she was playing matchmaker with the nurse and her nephew. She knew the nurse’s life story and basically had them married and with children. This is just how she was even when she was struggling herself. She gave us all a much needed laugh.
The last several years, I gave her notecards for Christmas because I knew how much she loved to write personal notes. I never stopped to think about what an impact those little cards with her words would mean to so many until over 1,000 people came through the funeral home. Many referenced that Leta’s notes of encouragement would never be forgotten. One said, “I will never forget receiving a note from Leta during a very dark time in my life when the only other people that seemed to be on my side were my immediate family…”
What a testimony! I never thought about how a few, kind and encouraging words could leave such an impression. There were countless stories just like this. It makes me want to be better. Are you encouraging others when they are down? Are you letting others know that mistakes happen and it is okay because Jesus loves them like Leta did for so many? She was a bright light in this dark world.
The pastor joked at the service that he was sure Leta already had a cute little sign hanging on the pearly gates. I think it probably says, “Welcome Home, Y’all”. She has straightened it and stood back and eyed it several times to make sure it is just right in true “Leta fashion”!
I’m going to miss her in so many ways. I will miss her decorating tips, making me eat when I am not hungry, nagging me about attending church among so many other things, all because she cared and loved me. Most of all, I will miss her encouragement. She always told me how proud of me she was.
As a cancer survivor myself, watching her fight fills me with so many emotions from overwhelming fear of this disease to gratitude for health and my life. This is on top of all the emotions associated with grief. I am leaning into God for peace and comfort that only He can give. I have assurance that I will see her again. She just got Home before us. Leta will be able to fill us in on all the answers she received to all the questions that she asked Jesus before we got there.
We love you, Nana! RIP ❤️