It is with a heavy heart that I write this today. Many of you may remember reading my December post titled: "My 2014 Inspiration Awards," in which I gave the Courage Award to my friend, Katie Elliot. Katie, as you might recall, has been fighting cancer for several years with a dignity and joyful grace well beyond her years. Just in the last few weeks, she took a turn for the worst and, sadly, passed away yesterday morning. She was eighteen years old. Several days ago, she and I exchanged emails and, in one of them, she indicated to me that her time here on earth was rapidly ending yet, as always, her main concern was for others and how they would handle her loss:
"We don't know how much time exactly I have left,
but we know that it's winding down pretty quick for me.
I'm not scared, I know where I'm headed, but prayers
of comfort for my family…are so appreciated."
That's how Katie dealt with her challenges…with a beautiful smile and a God-given peace about the situation. She was far more concerned with how those around her would face the inevitable than how she would meet death when it arrived. Right until the end, she savored every moment she had with those who meant the most to her. Even in her final days on this earth, she was living life to the fullest: she was thrilled that her beloved Seattle Seahawks were heading back to the Super Bowl, and she told me that she hoped they would "win the Bowl for me!" In fact, she was even working on writing a post for me that I planned on sharing with all of you at some point. Obviously, that wasn't meant to be. Still, I felt it was worth sharing today that Katie taught me so much about life and what it means to treasure every day and live it to the fullest. None of us know how much time we have in this world, and how much better would it be to face our death, knowing that we lived a worthy life…most importantly, that we lived a God-honoring life. Katie loved Jesus with all her heart and knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she had a far greater destiny in front of her than anything this life could give her here. Her attitude was a real challenge to me and something that I want to bear in mind in the years ahead. Don't wait to take opportunities to love people; don't waste your chances to enjoy the many blessings God has given to you; don't be afraid of taking chances on things that are challenging and hard but, in the end, produce character that leads to a more exemplary life; don't hold out until the last minute to get right with God…because that "last minute" could be right now. Someone the other day asked me why I chose to grow my friendship with Katie, knowing that we didn't have much time left together. All I could answer was the following, "In the words of the old saying,
'tis better to have loved and lost
than never to have loved at all."
Sometimes you miss out on the beautiful things in life because you are afraid to lose. I don't want to be that kind of person, and I am grateful that I knew Katie…even for a short time. I know my life will never be the same and that I will continue to think of her in more ways than one. This Sunday, as the Seahawks take the field in the Super Bowl, I will smile and say, "Win one for Katie." And I will thank God that He allowed me the pleasure of knowing this amazing young woman. Katie, you were a sweetheart, and you will be deeply missed. I love you.