Breast cancer, Cancer, Faith, Inspiration, Survivor, Zaza's Hope

Welcome Home

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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 ❤️

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12 thoughts on “Welcome Home

  1. Sheri Ford Reynolds says:

    Lori,
    Such a sweet testiment! My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you and your family during this time. Sending strength, love and peace for the days ahead! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pat Ivey says:

    Thank you Lori. I so enjoyed your words. I too have many of those notes. I found myself reading them over and noticing the words underlined twice. She was such a good friend and encourage. We all will miss her. Love and prayers to you. Pat

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lori – your words are beautiful and a great tribute. I didn’t know Leta but I feel I do now! She obviously left a lasting impression on all that knew her. I lost my husband a year ago from renal cancer – he still makes me want to be a better person just as he did when he was here. Your words reminded me of that – so you are continuing Leta’s legacy of encouragement. Thank you. As I said I did not know her, but I do feel she would be very proud of you. Much love and prayers to you and your family during this difficult time.
    Sincerely,
    Karen Leigh

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Leah Sellars says:

    Yes I am one of the lucky ones, she always called me Girlfriend and I did the same to her, your words are awesome, please continue doing the notes , I loved her and her family so much. I use to drive that school bus to her house and strip tobacco until I had to leave go take kids home from school and yes we told lots of stories, she is smiling and looking down on us from above she is the biggest star that is shinning, thank you again for doing this

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jeanne Pigg says:

    Beautiful tribute. My mom lost her battle with breast and ovarian cancer over 8 years ago. So glad you are a survivor. Although it’s hard to let go of our love ones, it’s great to know that they are just at Home waiting for us

    Liked by 1 person

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