Today, I (along with hundreds of others) celebrate the life of Krista Jean Maffia.
I met Krista two years ago after a baby shower. Young, vibrant, beautiful with thick curly hair bouncing, she rushed into the restaurant and joined our group. The first thing I noticed was her smile. It lit up her face and the room. She oozed zest. Even in her sleep-deprived delirium, she was awash in the glow of newborn baby love – her third daughter’s birth still a fresh and beautiful memory.
I don’t remember the specific timeline, but I know it was shortly after that lunch date that Krista found out she was sick. Her friends grieved. I grieved and I didn’t even know her. I did the only thing I could – pray. My kids added Krista to their prayer list and every night they prayed for Krista’s healing. Each time I ran, I prayed for Krista’s healing. When I saw her curly-topped, innocent daughter’s face peering at me from the bus, I prayed for Krista’s healing. We prayed and prayed and prayed some more.
Six months later I ran into Krista at a craft fair. I didn’t recognize her, but she recognized me. She greeted me warmly – like an old friend – and graciously reintroduced herself when I stood there with an empty stare on my face. As soon as she said her name I blurted out, “Oh Krista. It’s so good to see you again. I’ve been praying for you.” She smiled that smile – the one that lights up a room – and said, “I know you have.” We talked about how she was feeling and what her needs were. She offered to let me start bringing meals.
For a period of time, I became the Monday Meal Lady. I looked forward to my interactions with Krista, brief as they were. Sometimes she was at appointments and I’d leave my meal on the front step in the cooler. Sometimes she was resting and I’d check in with her mom on how she was feeling and how we could pray. But sometimes she was up for visiting and I loved those days. She’d tell me her daughters’ latest accomplishments and always apologize for a “messy house.” I loved that her home was lived-in – signs of life and love everywhere. Sometimes we’d pray together, especially before big doctor appointments.
Krista was generous. I had a friend about to deliver twins as a single mom. She needed baby supplies so I put a request out on Facebook. Krista was one of the first to respond and she gave generously all of the things Micaela had just outgrown. In spite of her own pain and her own battle against cancer, Krista wanted to give back to someone else in need. I was so touched by that.
Intensely private, I got the impression that Krista struggled with living out such a personal pain on a public platform. Who can blame her? We all resonated with her story. We all wanted to do something –ANYTHING - to help. So we cooked. Cleaned. Played with her kids. Garage saled. Car washed. Some of it was helpful. Some of it was fuss, but it kept our hands busy and hearts feeling purposeful. Krista sacrificed her privacy so we could join with her as she bravely battled this relentless cancer. Thank you Krista for that.
This spring, we braved the wet weather to watch our girls learn how to play softball. Even when she felt terrible, Krista was quick to flash that beautiful smile. She didn’t seem to mind the cold or the boredom of watching 6 year olds “play” softball. She was just happy to see her girl out on the field. Krista and I both grew up playing softball and we vowed to play together when she got better.
The rain and cold came early this fall. With it came a big health scare. Krista was admitted to the hospital and we wondered if she’d come home. Miraculously, she defied the odds and came home a few days later. She was determined to beat her cancer in spite of what the doctors said.
The rain continued. I broke down and bought rain boots. They were so cute I thought they were status-worthy on Facebook. I knew Krista was feeling better when she made this comment, “I’ve lived in Oregon 35 years and I’ve never owned a pair of rain boots.” After a little bit of playful banter, we both decided she needed her own pair. So we went shopping together. I’d text her a picture of each possible option. She’d text back her opinion. We both knew the winner when we saw them.
She wasn’t feeling up for company when I dropped them off, so I didn’t get to give her one last hug, but she got to wear her new rain boots to her doctor appointment the next day. And after that, the rain stopped. We all enjoyed a few weeks of beautiful, dry, warm fall weather. I shelved my rain boots. I think Krista did too.
I was at the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport on October 31st returning from a week in Haiti when I found out Krista was no longer suffering. Curt gingerly asked, “Have you been on Facebook? Did you hear about Krista?” My stomach lurched and I almost dropped my frozen yogurt. How could it be? It didn’t seem possible. Krista wanted so badly to beat the odds. We all wanted so badly for her to beat the odds. I couldn’t process the emotion.
The next morning, I ran to clear my head. I prayed but this time I didn’t pray for Krista’s healing. Her battle with cancer is done. I prayed instead for her husband. Her daughters. Her family and her close friends. As soon as I saw Krista’s house, the tears flowed freely. It’s such a loss. Such a huge void. I miss you Krista.
Today is my 37th birthday. It’s also the day of Krista’s memorial – the day when we all corporately celebrate her life and her legacy. I’ll start my day by going for a long run with my running buddy. As always, I will pray for Krista’s family as we run. My son’s 5th grade football team had an undefeated season. Today, they play in the championship game in a stadium with a turf field. It’s the real deal. Of course his game falls at the same time of Krista’s memorial service. I debated for a long time which event I should go to. Ultimately, I chose Grant’s game. I know Krista would make the same choice too. Her kids and her husband were her light and her life.
So my friend, Krista, I celebrate your life today by embracing what today offers. Health. Family. Sports. Competition. Grit. Life. Laughter. Potential Heartbreak. Love. I celebrate who you were and are. You will never be forgotten. We will rally together to take care of Cassio and your girls. They will never forget you either. Thank you for the friendship you offered and for the life you lived. You were an inspiration to hundreds. I miss you.
|Photo by J. Carmon Photography|