Thinking about our own deaths is not something we sit around and do a lot in our culture. It’s not coffee shop talk or a recommended way to start a team meeting. But yesterday I attended the funeral of a 39-year-old woman, Laure: a mother of five, devoted wife, captivating music teacher, and a dear friend to many. My husband married Laure and her husband, Joey, and had the honor of officiating Laure’s funeral. I’ve been to many funerals, but this one impacted me deeply.
What made this funeral distinct to me wasn’t that she died of cancer– although as many of you have experienced, watching a loved one suffer through this disease is so very hard. It wasn’t even that she died so young. What stood out to me about this funeral had less to do with Laure’s tragic death, and more to do with her extraordinary life.When my life ends and I don't get to add one more chapter, or moment, what will be said of me? Click To Tweet
When my life ends and I don’t get to add one more chapter, one more action, one more moment, what will be said of me? Laure’s funeral was one of the most beautiful tributes to a life well lived that I have ever experienced. This young woman who died way too young lived her life so full, rich, and well. Laure’s funeral challenged me to step back and think about the end to better influence how I’m living in the now.
Here are 5 things said about Laure today that I pray will be said about me:
1. Her faith was real. Laure lived and died with an unwavering faith in God. Nearly every story included some example of how Laure weaved the gospel into everyday life. From her lesson plans at school to the music programs she directed, Jesus was front and center in her life. It’s easy to have faith when things are going well, but to have an unwavering faith knowing you are going to die is a rock-solid faith. She believed the gospel was true, and she knew that death was not the end but a new beginning.
2. She loved deeply. Laure loved her husband, loved her children, loved her students, loved her extended family, and loved her friends. Everyone talked about her love for people. She was very expressive in her love of others. She loved big, wide, and deep. The room was full of people who had been impacted by how Laure loved.This young woman who died way too young, lived her life so full, rich, and well. Click To Tweet
3. She was aggressive in serving those in need. Stories were told of how she would take packages to the homeless, how she would keep food, blankets and supplies in her car to give to others in need, and how she would be on the watch for students at her school who didn’t have food or clothes. She fearlessly helped the poor. She was a defender of the weak and needy.
4. She was courageous. I loved the story shared of how she wanted to play the drums in the middle school band and the teacher said that playing the drums was for boys. With courage she insisted on playing, and she did. She ended up majoring in percussion in college and became an accomplished percussionist, using her gifts as a middle school teacher and musician. That same unwavering courage led her to stand strong, with her eyes fixed on Christ, and she battled cancer and ultimately faced her own death.
5. She gave the gift of laughter. There was a buzz of laughter at this funeral. At first it seemed a little strange, but I soon picked up that everywhere people were talking about memories of Laure and the laughter she brought to life. Her brother and sister shared the pranks she pulled often, and there were even stories of the laughter she gave as she battled the results of cancer. As peopled talked of her, there was a smile that went with each story. What a gift to be able to laugh even as you face the end of your life. That is a gift only Jesus can bring.
Proverbs 31 says it best and Rodney shared this passage in the service:
“Who can find a capable wife? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her and he will not lack anything good. . . Her hands reach out to the poor, and she extends her hands to the needy. . . Strength and honor are her clothing and she can laugh at the time to come. . . Her sons rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also praises her: ‘Many women are capable, but you surpass them all!’ Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. Give her the reward of her labor and let her works praise her at the city gate.”
Today, we are all writing the story that will be told of our lives. May the story of Laure compel all of us to live and love well.