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Friday, June 15, 2012

Remembering Cheryl Beckett

I was looking through old photos tonight and I came across one that I love of myself and a bunch of my colleagues & friends from ECHO from 2003.  We were all going to a nice dinner or something (I forget now), so we are all dressed up--which is fun as we were all working in hands on sustainable agriculture and spent most of our time working in the dirt, so getting dressed up was a rarity.  This is the picture (don't I look healthy and good (in the back all the way to the right is me--my hair was long then)).  

Next to me in the back row is my old friend and former housemate at ECHO--Cheryl Beckett.  As much joy as this picture brings, it also brings pain.  Cheryl went on to work with children and women refugees who were displaced by the fighting in Afghanistan.  For a number of years she worked in some very dangerous places, giving her heart and her care to the women and children who needed it so much.  In 2010 while working in the hill country of Afghanistan, Cheryl and her team of aide workers were gunned down by the Taliban.  All were killed.  I did not know any of the other members of her team, but if they were anything like Cheryl...well, the world lost some amazing people that day.  I am sure the world loses amazing people everyday, but that day, I knew one of the greatest people to have blessed the earth in my lifetime.

For some reason one story about Cheryl that comes to mind was a morning when we were getting ready to head to the main part of the farm complex, and I was in my bathroom at one end of the house, and I hear this piercing scream from the other end of the house, so I run over to Cheryl's room and she is wrapped in her towel having jumped out of the shower, and is laughing very hard at herself.  A frog had gotten in (which was very, very common--frogs and lizards were always finding ways into the house) but she had not noticed a large frog which was up near the shower head, and it had startled her enough to create a scene (she was not normally scared of frogs or anything at all, it was just the unexpected presence that shocked her).  I took the frog out for her, and she finished her shower, but for some reason, that moment, the laughter in her voice after having a scare, the amazing person that she was--just  that smile, that joy--That was Cheryl.  There are so many other, more flattering sotries I could tella bout her, but for some reason when I think of that morning, I can hear her laugh and just remember her joy and her strength. 

I think of that story perhaps because the other night Josiah crawled into my bed complaining of frogs in his room.  I though he must have been dreaming, but low and behold the next morning, there was a frog hopping around in his room!  So those frogs made me think of Cheryl and her frog.  And then tonight when I came across this picture, I just have been reflecting on Cheryl, and on so many other amazing people that have walked on this journey of life with me--some for longer than others. 

Cheryl was the kindest, most genuine, and truly giving person that I know.  She was fun, she was serious, she was forgiving, she could see the silver lining even when she was saddened or angered by someone or something--and was a laughter through the tears person.  I remember so many things about Cheryl, She always knew when someone needed a hug or  listening ear, and was already willing to give either or both.  She was dedicated to her work, always up and ready to go out the door.  She was dedicated to her faith, and did not just talk about love, forgiveness, giving of yourself, but lived it...nay, embodied it.  She was down to earth, kind--so, so kind, and real, genuine, honest about who she was.  I have seen her happy and sad, forgiving and angry, upset and gracious.  I missed Cheryl before her early death as our lives grew apart when I left ECHO and later adopted the kids and she headed off to other parts of the world, but she was always close to my heart.  I would have loved to see her one more time, one last time, to thank her for all that she taught me about being Love and Light in the world. 

So here I am still awake at 2:30am (I have having a bout of insomnia lately anyway), and what am I doing?  I am reflecting on Cheryl Beckett--her strength, her courage, her love, her laughter, her heart, her spirit, her incredible hugs, and her amazing smile.  My life has greater meaning because for a time, I worked, walked, and lived with one of the strongest and most blessed gifts that God put on this earth.  I was blessed by in peace my friend, and I look forward to seeing you again someday.

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