I knew her just as a voice on the phone, but I'll miss Beverly

August 27, 1999

I lost a friend this week whose face I never got to see.

Her name was Beverly Rinehart and she was waiting for a lung transplant.

We had been given each others names by several mutual friends last fall.

We spoke on the phone many times and arranged several meetings, but they all fell through because one of us would be feeling ill.

She had the calmest, gentlest voice.

She believed in God and Jesus. Strongly.

She was on oxygen and often struggled to breathe.

She did not want to die, but she knew she might.

She was the mother of two boys and two girls. Two married and two at home.

Before she had to stop, Bev was a teacher, mostly at Springfield Middle. She taught students who wanted to learn English, who spoke only other languages. She was extremely well loved by her students, their families and her co-workers.


Two weeks ago when Bevs daughter, Julie, called me to say that her mother was on a ventilator, lying in Intensive Care, sedated and not doing well at all, I was so scared. I knew exactly how Beverly felt in that bed, wondering upon waking if today would be better or worse, if today would be the day.

I knew she was thinking about her children more than anything else. I knew she was looking back at her life, loving everyone, even those who had hurt her. Her heart loved life and rejoiced in her blessings even as she felt herself leaving.

Last week, as my brain was full of thoughts of her, furiously praying that she would be strengthened long enough to get her transplant, I sat down on Thursday to write my column.

I decided to read for the first time, the 200 pages of notes I had written while in ICU on a ventilator of my own for six weeks after my transplant. It was way too much for me. I had to call Bob Maginnis and cancel the column.

On Friday, I tangled with a huge dump truck who was signaling a right turn, but because my brain decided he was turning left, I tried to pass him on the right. My car was totaled, deaths breath was in my face, but I didnt receive a scratch while hanging on for dear life.

Several angels were immediately present. Mr. Mills, the poor truck driver, Trooper Barnes, Mr. Mellott, and Dave Nycum, a man from my church who happened to be following me. Blessings to each of you and to all my friends who helped me later.

I am fine, but I want to stay home and be quiet.

Now, this week, Bev has passed over the rainbow into the arms of the angels and my heart just breaks for her family. I wanted her to make it to transplant. I wanted to help her through it.

She was 7th on Johns Hopkins list when she died. 7th. She would have had to wait only a few more weeks or months.

If she had been listed sooner, or if all of the families who lost people this year had donated their loved ones organs, Bev might still be alive.

I know that death is part of life. I know people get sick and sometimes they die. But organ failure is something we can help. In our deaths, each of us can actually save lives, just like a doctor or a fireman. Imagine that.

How can anyone whose loved one is gone, not save another family from suffering what theyve just suffered?

Bevs family followed her wishes to donate pieces of the beautiful shell that carried her soul. Mine will be doing the same thing someday. Will yours?

But all of this frustrated sadness isnt really the story.

What really counts is Bevs life.

Each life is a whole, no matter how short or long, and Bev lived a great one.

She was an exceptionally creative and kind teacher.

She was a devoted wife and mother for many years. When her son, Michael was in a terrible accident several years ago, and great adversity hit her family, she carried her children through it.

She had the deepest faith that she was being held in Gods arms, and she reflected that faith.

She wasnt afraid to love.

To her four beautiful children, I say this. I lost my mom six years ago, but still feel her with me when I need her the most, like the other day when I was smashing through my accident.

When I was dying after my transplant, exactly the same way your mom died, I cried for my mom to help me, and I saw her in a dream. She was in her bathrobe in a rocking chair with a patchwork quilt over her legs, on the front porch of a rickety Appalachian cabin high on a peaceful mountain among cool green peaks. She was gazing at a rose swirled sunset while quietly smiling and rocking, listening to the evening.

The sight of her calmed me and made me see in my deepest heart that no matter what happened, everything would be well. Life, here and after, was good.

Nothing can separate you from your mothers love. Forever.

Live as she taught you. Love each other. You are, each of you, her blessing of the world.

Denise Troxell welcomes letters. Her mailing address is P.O. Box 683, Sharpsburg, Md., 21782.

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