The time that follows death is a disorienting kind of haze. We trudge through muddy waters, watching incredulously as the world still spins, accepting reality slowly, and ultimately – hopefully – finding a way to extend the spirit of a loved one lost.

I recently lost a friend and mentor, Auline, who warmly welcomed me into the military spouse community eleven years ago. As if with a staff in hand, she shepherded me through the expansive, rolling hills of military life. Respected and loved, she was the one everyone aspired to be… or at least to be near. If you walked into a room full of people, you went to sit next to Auline… if you could find a chair… because everyone was seated near her.  But, there was room. She always had room for you at her table and in her heart.

Auline demonstrated incredible love and humility. With her husband, she ministered to the less fortunate and, adding to their biological kids, they adopted and fostered nearly a dozen children. Every decision, every action, was an attempt to create a loving, welcoming place for others, as if by bringing others to her, she could share the fierce love they so deserved and craved. It’s amazing how much she had to give.

She would probably pass off any attempt to put her on a pedestal with a humorous remark that perfectly blended what is humble and kind with what is saucy and irreverent. Auline could make a grown man blush. She joked that she wasn’t very well behaved. We’d laugh in these moments, agree in part, but mostly appreciate how she refused to color inside the lines. Life is too short to take too seriously, after all. Continue reading


Giving life back with interest

“For me, my life is like a loan given from God, and I will give this life back, but with interest.”  – Andy Wimmer, from the documentary Happy

In the documentary Happy, Andy Wimmer reflects on his work volunteering at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Sick and Dying Destitutes in Calcutta, India.  For going on two decades, he has helped people who were literally too weak or too sick to handle their most basic needs.  He’s shown them love and eased their burdens.  Simply giving a dying boy food to eat, he says, was a “small enlightenment,” and his perspective on his life’s duty was changed forever.    Continue reading