A few months after her diagnosis, I read something she had written about being healed. Not understanding exactly what she meant, while visiting one day, I said, “How exciting! You’re healed!”
With a big smile, she said, “Either way, I’m healed. Whether here or in heaven. It is God’s will for me to be healed. He will heal me one way or the other.”
I couldn’t argue with that reasoning. She was right. And as long as possible, I contended with belief that she would be healed here on earth. God’s plans were different.
Everyone called her Annie, but I just called her Ann. On the first day of nursing school, we introduced ourselves and sat together. I asked, “What’s your name?”
She grinned, “Ann. And yours?”
Teasing, I said, “You might need something to write with.” Then I answered, “I’m Rivera. Is your name like Anne of Green Gables, with an E?”
With her infamous giggle, she said, “Nope, just Ann, no E.” And the rest? Well, it’s history! For the next twenty years we shared beautiful friendship. When I got married, eighteen years ago, she was one of my honorary bridesmaids. At some points, when I lived in California and she was here in NC, we would go for several months without talking. When we would finally catch up again, it was as if we had just talked yesterday.
I loved my Ann, always will. Some of my most precious and memorable times with her were while driving back and forth to Duke Medical Center during her illness. I will treasure those conversations forever. She made me smile, and blessed me with words of wisdom that will run deep in the river of my soul for a lifetime.
Ann loved like Jesus. Admittedly, one of her favorite sayings was “bless her heart,” but she never judged anyone. She didn’t tell people how to live, she demonstrated it. She never married or had children, but everybody loved Ann. Her family, especially her mama and daddy, were her priority. She was a nurse/missionary/sister/daughter/aunt/friend/and Annie to many.
Recently, I was teaching a class about leading in love. Ann was my example. As I sat by her bedside during her last days, her quiet confidence and gentle caring for others was evident. Worship music, prayer, and the sound of familiar and loved voices calmed her. How she had loved others echoed through the room. Stories and love poured in. Friends called and visited from all through the years and all over the world.
It’s a beautiful scene right now in heaven as one of God’s true beauties has been welcomed home. Face to face with Love Himself, I imagine my Ann dancing with Him. I will miss her sweet laugh and so many other things, no doubt. But I celebrate her heavenly entrance! Jesus is saying, “Annie, how beautiful you are my darling. Well done. You loved well.”
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” ~1 Corinthians 13:12-13