heavenI did a double take at the text message on my phone, shocked really, by the words I was reading. My mind immediately coasted back to the day she showed me her cell phone. There wasn’t one time I’ve ever seen or talked to Donna and she wasn’t kind and uplifting; one of those energetic and pleasant people who brightens everyone’s day with her presence.

I met her at the gym a couple of years back and discovered the source of her bright personality… we have the same Father… I always wonder when I meet brothers and sisters that seem to shine a little brighter and carry themselves a little higher if they aren’t a little closer to God?

You know the ones; they face the same difficulties, but don’t let it affect their attitude or share their foul mood on those around them like a bad virus. I like to call them “the encouraging ones.” That’s a good way to describe Donna… not perfect, but forgiven and willing to share her heart on and with others.

While struggling with the loss of her mom, Donna started to lose her voice. Over the course of the last year, it got progressively worse while she was working with doctors to help diagnose the mysterious turn of events. Donna continued to work hard in her business as well as the gym, even though her voice began to fade to a whisper. Over the next year Donna lost her voice altogether, but not her smile and heart. She would eventually be diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and her only form of communication was her typing on her cell phone.

When I saw her in November, Donna still shared her genuine smile and pointed to her feeding tube that lumped out slightly from her gym clothes, but it didn’t keep her from working hard. I let Donna know I was praying for her as were a number of people she knew from the gym. She just smiled in appreciation and nodded.

When I saw Donna in December she looked well and excited to be in the gym, “How are you?” I asked. She smiled her patented smile, but the sides of her mouth didn’t reach their normal elevation… Donna’s brown eyes began to fill with tears as she studied mine for a moment. She began to type out her response on her cell phone.

Donna wiped the tears from both eyes with the back of her index finger and held out her phone, “heaven” is all it said… I fought back my own tears and nodded in understanding, “You’re in God’s hands, Donna… I’m praying for you.” She nodded kindly again in appreciation and reached out and patted me on the shoulder to show her appreciation…

That was the last time I saw or talked to Donna… My friend who’d been reaching out to Donna sent me the text, “Have sad news for you. Donna died this morning…” My eyes filled like Donna’s… I know she knew the Truth and is in an infinitely better place than we are now, but I grieve for the fallen world and the reality of life and death in it.

The choices we make while here follow us into eternity and the gift of free will comes at a price. May the ones who knew Donna remember the supernatural confidence she had while staring death in the face… a trial all of us will get to take our turn with. To my brothers and sisters… I’m tellin’ ya…

You’re gonna love Donna…