Sunday at 8:30 pm. This was my regular time to talk on the phone with Marilyn. I did the calling and, I’ll admit, most of the talking. She did most of the listening, answering my questions, asking a few and sharing with me what we called her experience, strength and hope.
Nearly every week, month after month, for many years, I had this special time on the phone with Marilyn – my spiritual mentor and my dear friend, who died on August 15 after a courageous battle with cancer.
Sometimes Marilyn’s husband Paul would answer the phone before she could, and that’s when I first encountered that gentle humor of his that Marilyn loved. Before we met in person, Paul thought I sounded younger than I actually am. He asked me about it one time, to which I replied, “Paul, this spring chicken has sprung.” Paul teased me about that, and afterwards he would announce when I called, “Marilyn, the Sprung Chicken is on the phone.” It became a running joke among the three of us.
Marilyn and I were unalike in a number of ways. Yet, it was the few big things we shared that made our relationship one of the most special friendships of my life. We both were seeking more physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being in our lives. We both believed that this simple connection – one person talking honestly with another – was one of the ways that we could experience understanding and healing.
It was such a simple thing, this talking every Sunday at 8:30 pm. And, it was also an incredibly generous thing on Marilyn’s part. It is one of the most remarkable gifts of unselfish love I have ever received from another person.
There is a prayer that Marilyn and I both knew and have recited together before. It goes like this:
I put my hand in yours,
and together we can do
what we could never do alone.
No longer is there a sense of hopelessness,
no longer must we each depend upon
our own unsteady willpower.
We are all together now,
reaching out our hands
for power and strength greater than ours,
and as we join hands,
we find love and understanding
beyond our wildest dreams.
Marilyn gave me her hand, her heart and her friendship on Sunday evenings and so many times in between. I’m filled with sadness that she is gone . . . and filled with gratitude that I knew her. I hope to have learned something from Marilyn’s strength, her courage and her willingness to listen.
I loved her. She will be deeply missed.
Rev. Terry Davis