Sunday, August 17, 2008

Leaving Her Mark

"No love, no friendship, can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever."
- Francois Mocuriac

I'm blessed to have some incredible friendships. One person I don't see too often, but whose friendship I value greatly, is Connie Kennemer. Connie and I met thirty years ago. We were both pregnant with our boys at the same time, shared the joys of motherhood, and kept in touch periodically. Something just "clicked" with Connie and I when we met. Now we just pick up where we leave off even if it's been a couple years since we've seen each other.

Over time, Connie, whose smile and glowing countenance is contagious, has experienced some heartache. Multiple Sclerosis has been her constant companion for quite a few years unwelcome visitor upon someone who thrives on activities like playing the piano. Yet Connie has welcomed this illness, hesitantly, but with the confidence that her life still flourishes with opportunity and purpose. She has participated wholeheartedly with others who share the MS journey in the yearly MS walk in San Diego.

In recent years, Connie's adult son, Todd, her only child, suffered with mental illness. Todd took his life almost three years ago. Connie's grieving has compelled her along with her husband, Rex, to delve into a world most of us avoid. Rex volunteers with students who walk on the wild and dark side of life. Together, Rex and Connie comfort those who share their mourning and seek to educate all of us about what it's like to be so very close to a loved one who is plagued with mental illness.

She said to me today, "My life isn't what I thought it would be. It's not what I would have chosen, but it is good." The reason she can say this is because of God's love and His work in her life which gives her strength and courage to see beyond the difficult places. Each day she moves ahead in faith that God has a plan for her. A joyful contentment is a part of Connie's life along with the weariness. Joy prevails in her statement, doesn't it? Connie's serenity, perseverance and hope has left its mark on me.

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