Posted by: karanoel | February 21, 2021

Loved and missed

I first met Dianne 10 years ago – about one hot second after I’d started dating her son. She wasn’t about to let our relationship get going in earnest without flying across the country to check me out for herself. Nope, that boy wasn’t going to get hurt again on her watch. I can’t say I wasn’t intimidated by the idea of her visit, despite John’s reassurances, but it turns out there was no need to worry because it was the start of a very special friendship with this unique and remarkable woman full of southern charm, the love of Jesus and good-humored teasing.

The next time I saw her was a few months later when my son, Cole, and I headed to Florida with John and his daughter, Madi, to meet the rest of the family and then embark on a 10-hour road trip to New Orleans with both of John’s parents. Panic set in after I’d committed to this adventure, especially since I hadn’t even met his dad, Bob, yet. But once again, there was no need to worry. Dianne had already made me feel welcome and Bob, who was also full of Jesus, (very corny) humor and his own (much quieter) charm – was quick to follow. The thing that struck me most was how Cole was embraced by the family, as though he, like Madison, had been there from the start.

It was an answer to a many-years-long prayer. Not just to find a man who could fill the tall order of soulmate, but a wonderful family to go with him; one that Cole and I could slip right into and be embraced by. Good golly, did God ever answer that prayer with John and the Luker family. But Dianne was unmistakably at the center of that family. She was like the sun, holding her family firmly in orbit as she effortlessly, vibrantly warmed each one. But it didn’t stop at the boundaries of her household. That warmth extended to every single person I ever saw her meet, drawing them close as though they were family; as if there were no one she’d rather be with. 

I’m pretty certain, though, her favorite people of all were kids. She valued them highly, just like the Jesus she served so faithfully, spending a couple decades as a (favorite) fourth grade teacher, several more as a Sunday school teacher and entering her greatest joy as a grandmother. Every visit, she seemed happiest when she was with our kids, delighting in conversation and laughter with the older ones and endless crafts with Chase that appeared daily out of her suitcase as if from a wondrous magic hat. She made a habit of firmly shooing John and I away on errands and dates to ensure she got time with them to herself. We never complained.

During our visits together – when John and the kids were at work & school or otherwise engaged –  Dianne and I fell into an easy rhythm, spending hours talking, laughing, shopping or just being, with a treasured transparency that grew over the years. I admired her strength; how she wholeheartedly endeavored to raise such amazing boys; how faithfully she served her family, friends and church; how she forged through hard things like breast cancer, the loss of her husband and the endless health issues that harassed her. I loved how quick she was to laugh, how generous she was with her heart and everything in her hands, and how often she told me how grateful she was for me – I mean, like every single conversation we had. I can only hope I expressed my gratitude for her as clearly… that she knew how very much I valued her presence in my life and what an answer to prayer and dear friend she was to me.

When she passed away last month after a bad accident that led to an open heart surgery and then a blood clot, my heart felt a hole bigger than any I’ve experienced apart from Cole. The tears have come freely and often, halting this post many times over these past weeks. They are a testament to how very special she was and how deeply I loved her. But my sadness is tempered by the joy I have in knowing that she has been reunited with her very-missed husband, is living in a body that is free from suffering and that I will get to see her again.

So for now, I will carry on here, leaning ever more closely into the Jesus she loved and the lessons she taught me, asking God to weave them into me and bring His needed embrace to this world.

I love you, Dianne, and will be forever grateful for the gift you were – and always will be – to me.


Responses

  1. Kara:

    Another wonderful and tender blog. I feel for you and your great loss. I am leaving for Orange County on Monday for a memorial service for my younger sister Esther, who died of Parkingson’s. Sure I’ll be seeing Kenn and Joannie. Join us if it works for you. I see a lot of different writers. You rank way up there. God has given you the gift to be deeply personal without being mushy. Keep doing your stuff. I hope your readership grow.

    Paul

    >

    • Paul, I am so sorry about your sister. Such a loss. I am so grateful for the hope of heaven. Thank you always for your encouragement. I would love to see you while you are here. Kara


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