There are times when words evade me, and there are other times when writing is healing and therapeutic.
It’s been 18 days since a phone call that changed my life forever,
that my dear friend Ruth Glick Leatherman woke up in Heaven.
For her, it is joy unspeakable. For her family and those who loved her, it is an ache so deep.
This is a tribute to her, and the beautiful legacy she left us.

// photo courtesy of the Glick family //

Dear Ruth,

“O love of God! How rich and pure, how measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure, the saints and angels song!”

This was the quote you wrote on your blog after the death of your first baby in your womb. This was the heartbeat by which you lived – to know and proclaim the love of God. This is what we remember you as, a lover of God, first of all.

It’s been a little over two weeks since I got the phone call from your sister with a choked voice, “She didn’t wake up this morning.”

I can’t even describe what went through me when I heard those words. Complete shock. Disbelief. “It can’t possibly be true!” Hoping against hope that I could just pick up the phone and talk to you and dismiss this nightmare I had just entered.  Instead I began mourning from somewhere so deep inside that I didn’t even know existed. But it still seems like you can’t be gone.

How could this happen? I was just with you 2 1/2 weeks before. You ran a 10K just two weeks before. You ran a marathon last spring. I called you when Ruby was 2 or 3 weeks old and Mark answered, “She’s out running.”  When I got a hold of you the next time I gave you a hard time for running far before doctor’s okay, both teasing you and yet with great admiration. You were the picture of health and determination. I am sure that even you had no idea of the mitral valve prolapse that caused your heart to stop that morning.

// brunch that Ruth hosted for my sisters, Liz, and me, just 2.5 weeks prior.
never in a million years would’ve i known this was the last time together. //

There are few people I’ve met that have been more ALIVE than you. You simply radiated life and vitality of body, and you are one of the most vivacious and fun-loving people I know. How you must have been absolutely delighted as you awoke in Heaven, and I know you are are now experiencing Life more fully than ever before. I can picture you now, head thrown back, laughing contagiously. Or speaking earnestly with wide expressive eyes as you talk with Corrie ten Boom, or scooping up little Emma, the little baby who died in your womb, and just delighting over her as you walk through Heaven. I can imagine you immersed in music, thrilling in something you deeply wanted to pursue while you were here.

What Joy you must know. And how it makes those of us left behind long to experience what you already know.
It makes Heaven seem all the more real; not a mystical idea of someday, but Real, right now.
At this very moment you are more Alive than you ever were on earth.
How homesick I am for that Real home, for that Reality that is far bigger than this earthly reality.

There are so many people who speak of you since you’re gone, how you were so alive, so passionate for God, such a great mother, a faithful loving wife, a friend who treasured the people around her, how you took meals to people, the gifts you gave, and on and on and on. And it’s true. It’s all true. Sometimes people say things to try to make the people left behind feel better, and other times people say things because they can’t help it, because of the impact someone made. And the latter is true. No, we don’t idolize you, but we remember your life and the incredible woman of God that you were, and we can’t help but talk about that. I’m in awe of what an impact one life has made on so many. Your one life.

There are reminders of you everywhere. Even though we lived nearly a thousand miles apart, you are still all over my home. In my living room grows the “friendship plant” you gave me, divided from your own plant, when I moved to Georgia six year ago. I walk in my closet, and there hangs a skirt you gave me for my birthday. In my drawer are the pajamas you gave. On my kitchen window sill sits the hand cream you made last fall. In my purse is your homemade lip balm. On my desk is the Willow Tree friendship plaque you gave before we moved away, because we were forever friends, you and I.  In my cupboard is the bottle of vanilla extract, the make-it-yourself kind that you were so excited about. Hudson’s pacifiers and ribbon holders – you gave them. The tea kettle on my stove is from you and Aliza.

And then there are the matching things we had, shamelessly bought so we’d have one like each other. A skirt and pajamas that you gave and bought the same for yourself. I saw your navy and white striped shoes with the red bow and just had to buy some like it.  We bought matching black trench coats at Gap years ago and still wear them.  You saw my diaper bag from Pottery Barn Kids and loved it and bought one for your baby, and a matching fleece blanket from Baby Gap. And all these name-brand things we bought for a song – we loved quality but we were always hunting a bargain. We had the tradition for years of going shopping together the day after Christmas, and when I pull out my Christmas decor this year it’ll all be things I bought when with you.

I loved how we’d go to each other’s houses, and were as comfortable as family. “Do you have anything to eat?” you’d ask as you’d raid my refrigerator, and we’d both laugh. Or we’d go looking through each other’s closets and exclaim over clothing and wonder where the other bought it so that we could buy one too.

// Mark & Ruth
Esther, Isaac, Ruby //

// both pictures courtesy of Hannah Martin, sister to Ruth //

I always had a running list of things to talk about with you, and when we lived close by we’d talk non-stop when we were together. When we lived far apart we talked on the phone but our conversations were never finished – it was always “it was sooo fun to catch up, but next time we’ll talk more!” And I find myself, almost daily, thinking of things I still want to tell you.

You were the friend that called and left the best, longest voice mails.
Even my husband would know it was you calling because
1) the voice mails were so long, and 2) I’d always laugh when I’d listen to them.

 I remember when we first met, I was 14 and you were 15. I thought you were so fun and popular and life-of-the-party and thought it impossible to ever be friends with someone so cool.  You and Bek still ribbed me years later about that bright pink dress with the puffed sleeves that I wore that first Sunday to visit your church, and we would just howl with laughter. You were the one with the infectious laugh, and if people didn’t know what you were laughing about they’d feel like they were missing out. That’s the kind of person you were. You were the friend that knew me better than anyone else outside of my family, and somehow, you still liked me.

// in the beginning. goodness, how time has changed us! :) //

My growing up years have you all over them. Some hard times, but mostly good times, and the good times made better for working through the hard.  You became like a sister to me, and you knew as much about my family as my family did. J The old Bronco you used to drive, the beautiful farm where you grew up, my parents’ house – so many precious memories are there. We laughed until we cried many times. We taught Sunday School together to a little kids’ class and you were the one with the great ideas and I was the one that said, “Oh yeah! That’s awesome!” and I’d just help.

We talked about our futures together, and wondered who in the world we’d marry,
and we prayed together about that.
You went to Russia for a year and I missed you terribly.

We met wonderful godly men and fell in love. We were passionate about God and purity and making the right decision in marriage, and were jealous over each other. We were in each other’s weddings and rejoiced in the other’s love, and stood by each other in the marriage we made until ‘death do us part.’ We talked about hard times in our marriages and felt for each other, but always always pressed each other to Jesus, and to our spouse. It was never just about us; it was about the forever covenant we made to our marriages and about helping each other stand strong in that commitment. And not just honoring the covenant, but about making our marriages the best that they could be. We weren’t satisfied with just mediocre; we wanted the fullest measure we could give them.

// my wedding //

// part of the small group we were in together
me, Ruth, Bek, Aliza //

// one of the best summers ever, involving lots of time together.
we both lived in Pennsylvania at the same time for a year after we were married. //

You called me one day with tears in your voice and told me you lost the baby you were carrying, and I cried with you. And then we carried three babies full term, pregnant together all three times, and loved to talk pregnancy and aches and pains and thrills of new life forming. We talked of our precious children and swapped stories and laughed at each other’s kids and asked advice and treasured the days when our children were old enough to play together. We hoped our children would become good friends too, the way we were, and we thought there was a good chance because you and I were going to be little old ladies together, loving God and life and being crazy together.

You were such a fun mom, and you so adored your children. And you were so intentional about being a mother. You weren’t satisfied to simply raise children – you wanted to raise children who feared the Lord, who were taught of Jesus, who learned to love the Savior that you did. You didn’t want behavior modification; you wanted their hearts to experience Christ. And so you taught them about Jesus.

Since you’re gone I once helped tuck your precious kids in bed and I listened to them sing the songs you taught them. Esther said, “I know a song! I want to sing it by myself!” And the evening of the calling hours she sang this song, “Savior, You can move the mountains… My God is mighty to save… Forever, Author of Salvation…He rose and conquered the grave, Jesus conquered the grave…” They know, Ruth. They know you loved them. They know that Jesus loves them. They know that God is a Big God. You and Mark taught them.

// pregnant with our oldest children, due within two weeks of each other //


// Shelly Nissley, Ruth, and myself. We’ve been pregnant together three times. //

You pressed me to God in beautiful ways. We could talk about anything under the sun, vent to each other when we needed to, cry about hard things in our lives, laugh about inside jokes, and every single time I’d come away I was inspired to more of Jesus. We told each other we’d pray for each other, and we did. Our talks could be fun or serious, but they would always press to Jesus whether in words or simply the spirit of your life. You were so hungry for God, always wanting more of Jesus, and that was our deepest bond. That was the foundation of who you were.

But suddenly, you’re gone.  And what I feel is a strange combination of trust and agony.  Agony because I do not know how to do life without you here. How can life ever be sweet again? How can it hurt so badly that you’re not here? Sometimes the tears fall like rain. Sometimes it seems the tears can’t be found. But the ache is always there. It hurts so deeply because what we had was so so precious. And I’m not even your husband, your children, your sisters and brothers and mom and dad… I’m just a friend, one of many of your friends, and it hurts so much. I can’t even imagine what they must feel, how much they must miss you.

And yet I do not doubt God’s ways, and I believe with all my heart that He makes no mistakes. I don’t understand at all, but I do trust. I believe that He IS Big Enough to care for your husband and your precious precious children even with you gone, even though it breaks my heart that you’re not in their home anymore. It is because of Him that we enjoyed such a close, precious friendship for so many years. Without Jesus those friendships and relationships don’t happen. It is to Him that you surrendered your life many years ago, and the fruit you bore was of the rarest beauty.

It was the Jesus in you that impacted so many people, and often without you trying or even realizing how impacting it was. It was the Jesus in you that gave you such a great attitude about life and other people, and rarely can I remember you down in the dumps. It was the Jesus in you that loved so well – loved your Mark, your three beautiful children, your sisters and brothers and parents and family, your friends, the people you met. It was the Jesus in you that gave you such a soft heart toward the things of God, that instilled in your children the love of God.

And it is to Jesus that we owe the assurance – not just the hope, but assurance –  that this is only the Beginning for you. For us, as your sister Liz said, our time remaining is only a dot in the line of eternity. Yes, we hurt, we hurt terribly. But in light of eternity we will be with you soon. And this is not the end for us, although it sure can feel that way some days. Somehow you still live on, in your husband and beautiful children, in your beautiful sisters and family, even in the friendship you formed. We are better people, I am a better person, for knowing you.

Late in July of this year you wrote, “Pondering the thought that we are not made for this world of heart ache and pain.
It’s one of those moments when I wonder how long must we wait for the return of our Savior?”

And I know again that you are so happy, you are in a world that knows no heart ache, no pain.
You didn’t need to wait long, dear Ruth.

You gave me the words of this song after I lost my grandfather and aunt within a short time, and tears rose when I found them again now:

Homesick

You’re in a better place, I’ve heard a thousand times. And at least a thousand times I’ve rejoiced for you.
But the reason why I’m broken the reason why I cry. Is how long must I wait to be with you.
I close my eyes and I see your face. If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place.
Lord won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow. I’ve never been more homesick than now.
Help me Lord because I don’t understand your ways. The reason why I wonder if I’ll ever know.
But even if You showed me the hurt would be the same. Because Im still here so far away from home.
In Christ there are no goodbyes. In Christ there is no end. So I’ll hold onto Jesus with all that I have. To see you again.

Words and Music by: Bart Millard
Sung by: MercyMe

And it’s not goodbye. It’s just a see-you-later. Because this isn’t the end.
This is only the Beginning.

All my love,
clarita

p.s. I hope our houses are next door in Heaven. We’ll have so much to catch up on.

// my sister Claudia and Ruth this summer.
they are so much alike, and being with these two at the same time was unforgettable. //

// pregnant with our 3rd babies. you at 40 weeks, me at 20 //

// forever friends //

edited to add:

Besides prayers and intercession for the precious Leatherman and Glick families,
which are invaluable in themselves,
this is another way you are able to help:

 Calvary Monument Bible Church, and Marks employer , Earl R Martin, Inc.
have created a fund for the Leatherman family
so that Mark is able spend more time with his children, which is his great concern.

Please direct your tax deductible gifts of love to

Calvary Monument Bible Church
1660 Mine Road
Paradise, PA 17562

Please earmark ‘Leatherman Family Fund’

61 thoughts on “To Ruth {A Tribute}

  1. babybug329

    This is a beautiful tribute to your friend. I’m sorry for your loss, she sounds like a wonderful friend. Cherish all the time you’ve had with her, and the special connection between you two. *hugs*

    Reply

  2. Anonymous

    I am from your hometown but i know i’m a stranger to u. I’ve also “stalked” your beautiful blog for awhile : )I had heard from a friend that u and Ruth were very close and after reading your tribute to her today, i see its true. My heart aches for you and i just wanted to take some time to wish u God’s comfort and peace in a time so painful!! hugs!

    Reply

  3. aSeriesofFortunateEvents

    I just love you Clarita. What can I say that you don’t already know? What cay I say that would help ease the grief? Not a thing. I do know this though, the passing of your friend has inspired me to be more intentional in my mothering, in the words I say to my children and the things I do. I need to love on them as much as I can while I can and teach them the truths that I know.

    After I heard, I have thought SO much about you and prayed for you and her family. I also took the time to tell my best friend since childhood that I love her.

    Much much love to you, sweet lady.

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  4. WasabiBek

    Beautiful Clarita! I think of you so often… think of Ruth so often. It does seem like it can’t be true. I hurt for you, for Mark, for her children. It all seems so wrong. I LOVE YOU!!! I’m so glad we are friends!!!! So enjoyed our long chat the other day… we need to make that happen more often. You are not forgotten friend.

    {Hugs}

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  5. richlyblest

    This is beautiful, Clarita! What an amazing woman she must have been! You mentioned about her being more ALIVE than anyone you knew, which is so ironic because I am reading a book right now about living ALIVE- which is something that I struggle to do, instead hiding behind high walls to “protect” myself, afraid to be the person I am meant to be, and this tribute to Ruth is SO INSPIRING to me. Hugs and lots of love as you continue to deal with the grief of parting with a best friend.

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  6. wj3km

    So very sorry for this huge loss, this terribly painful sorrow! Ruth looks like your sister, even like you in some ways :) She radiates life, vitality, joy – may we all be so selfless, so giving, intent on affecting those we come in contact with in a positive, uplifting way. I cried as I read this – I cannot imagine how your heart must ache…I’m sorry and will pray for you, for her husband and children.

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  7. WasabiBek

    Oh, and sorry about giving you a hard time about the bright pink dress. Funny how I can remember it even now…:) You were beautiful then just like you are now!! And THANK you for picking up your phone and taking time to talk this afternoon. It meant the world. Love you girl!!! We’re not home yet…

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  8. Elizabethmarie_1

    Oh Clarita. You made me cry. What a special friend Ruth had, what a very special friend.
    Even now…even after she is gone from here, your friendship is a testimony. Your post, your letter points us to Jesus. You writing about her life makes me want to draw nearer to God. I’m so sorry you lost your friend. I can’t stop thinking of her children, her husband. On an earthly note it seems so tragic, but on an eternal note…like her sister said, it’s just a dot compared to eternity…and you will see her again.

    {Hugs} to you.
    xoxo

    Reply

  9. oneblessedwoman

    OMW this is so beautiful. I just wanted to curl up and cry, but I also wanted to drive to your house and hug you. The pain of death is so big and hard and yet in the midst of it all you wrote this beautiful tribute to a beautiful friend and friendship. Wow how blessed you are to have had a friend so dear to you. My heart still aches and weeps with you, and i am still praying for you. Praying that God just keeps His arms wrapped tight around you. And one more thing, count it a blessing straight from God that she left you with NO QUESTIONS of her destination.

    Reply

  10. inanorchard

    I didn’t know your friend Ruth but after reading this beautiful post I feel like do. How she brought happiness to those around her :) Oh Clarita I’m so sorry! So sorry for the ache in your heart. You’ve been in my prayers and will continue to be. Love you!

    Reply

  11. lonnasjoy

    Dear Clarita, My heart breaks for you. Your friendship is so beautiful. And even in her death Ruth this friend is an inspiration to all of us. To live life to the fullest, to enjoy every day we have here on earth and with our loved ones, and to make the most of it. Thank you for this post. Thank you for being vulnerable and opening your heart to us. I will be praying for you, and I don’t say that lightly. Hugs across the miles! LaDonna

    Reply

  12. Anonymous

    So beautiful and so sad. SO very sorry for this loss of a wonderful person and friend to you. I can’t imagine how you must feel. Thanks for being vulnerable and for trusting God in this. Truly beautiful!

    Reply

  13. foreveranoatneygirl_n2Hisown

    Omy. I just… Wow. There are no words. This was truly beautiful. The life she lived is inspirational at best. You were and still are so blessed to have had a friendship like this. Im so sad for you. So sad you have to be so far away as you deal with this deep hurt. Love you friend….

    Reply

  14. loaine

    A very moving,touching tribute.I don’t know Ruth but I think/pray of her husband and children so often.What a beautiful friendship you two had!Cherish the memories.Some sweet day you shall meet again!

    Reply

  15. ABAHM

    My heart goes out to you Clarita as I read this beautiful tribute to Ruth. May the Lord bring comfort to you and to her dear ones. What a beautiful woman of God and friend.

    Reply

  16. smilesbymiles

    Your words are so beautiful ………………. and what a beautiful life they reflect. I didn’t know her, but in your tribute, I feel as though I’ve been introduced to a woman who shows us all what it really means to be a woman of God. I’m so, so sorry for your loss. For her family. Her children. Her husband. The pain is mind boggling. Sending you a hug right now. I pray that Jesus will touch the ache inside you.

    Reply

  17. appalolly

    I read this tribute with such interest and also such sadness for you. The way you described your friend Ruth and your friendship with her was so very beautiful!!! It inspired me too, because I wonder if those around me see Jesus in me like that? I hurt for you! I can hardly imagine how you must feel. But your faith shines through loud and clear. And that is inspiring!

    Reply

  18. JustinaMc

    Beautiful! Beautiful! I know all to well the hurt and pain you are feeling. May you continue to find your strength in Christ and His promises, especially the promise of us seeing our loved ones again:)

    Reply

  19. redladybug18

    what a beautiful friendship! There really is nothing like those old friends that know you inside and out. I feel for you and I can’t imagine the pain you’re going through missing her. Some day when I grow up I want to be a friend like her

    Reply

  20. shellElynn

    I am so sorry for your loss…but what a beautiful tribute! What struck me most about the entire thing was the way I feel inspired by her, even though I never even knew her. Hearing about her thirst for Christ, and the light she shone to all those around her that pointed everyone to Him…I want that.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

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  21. SherriMonCheri

    Oh, Clarita, this is beautiful! Heartbreakingly beautiful. Friendships like you had with Ruth are so rare and so valuable. What a blessing she was in your life!

    God continue to give you strength and grace as you praise Him in this storm; as you give Him thanks (for Ruth, her life & your friendship) through this pain.

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  22. clearlyhis

    what heart wrenching beauty;
    Ruth…her testimony and legacy
    you & ruth…your friendship
    someday your sweet reunion and next door mansions in heaven!

    i keep thinking of her precious children. i’m sure ruth is telling God what they need…which He already knows, even better then we do!! =)

    tight hugs clarita.

    Reply

  23. flutemom

    i found your blog via dawn’s post on facebook. ruth was such a special person, and you have written such a beautiful tribute to a very dear friend. thank you for the pictures and the memories, and for sharing how she challenged you and encouraged you. we miss her so much.

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  24. down_onthefarm

    your words here clarita take my breath away. because friendship like that is so beautiful. and precious. and while i know that this is a lovely tribute to ruth…knowing you the short time that i have, you love Jesus, your husband and kids just like that. you both brought your unique individuality to your best friends forever friendship {bfff} to enjoy that length and depth… making the two of you quite a pair for sure. she was blessed to have your bfff too.

    as i was doing laundry and things this morning i kept coming back to read these words again. and look at your pictures. i am so sorry for this great loss on this planet…celebrating her joy with you yes. but asking Jesus…as He is surely holding ruth… to hold your heart too. her friends, family. oh her dear children. His touch being the connection until everyone’s together again…filling the space she left behind with much much grace. i love you.

    Reply

  25. lin789

    Clarita, this tribute to your beautiful soul friend has just left me spellbound. Because reading about her and reading about your friendship just fills me with so much happy and so much sad. Some people search and search for a friendship like you two had. you passed on a special thing by just letting the world see her through your eyes. i loved it!! and i am SO SORRY that you two can’t keep calling each other on the phone,and that you can’t keep listening to long voice messages and buying matching clothes. so sorry…..hugs to you today.

    Reply

  26. grace_to_be

    i’m sure you never dreamed you would be writing a post like this…

    as i read my heart swung back and forth between a quiet celebration at the life of your sweet ruth and the overwhelming sadness of the unexpected. i didn’t know her, but feel i do a bit more now, through your beautiful words~ and i think to myself, “i want to be like that. like ruth.” full of life and love for God and others and leave such an impact that now, even in the darkest of times it is her faith inspiring those who loved her to also keep looking and clinging to Him.

    ya know, i’m really anxious to meet ruth in heaven someday. cannot wait! to sit down and talk with her personally. to let her know that her life went out such a testimony of His glory~

    and clarita.. thank you for sharing your heart, your pain, your beautiful friend with us~ i have been so, so touched by all this and have prayed often for her husband and precious little ones. may God continue to just wrap you all right up in His great big arms of grace.

    love you dear one.

    Reply

  27. MaeIBeSunny

    Such a BEAUTIFUL tribute to a dear friend. You could not have said it better……and i would LOVE to write more but words fail me. losing a best friend must be SO HARD!! hugs and lots of tears…

    Reply

  28. writersblock02

    Oh Clarita, I read this the other day and really I have no words to say, yet I want to say something, and need to say something.  This is so moving and beautiful.  My prayer is that somehow you will be comforted in the weeks and months that come.  I think the friendship you shared with Ruth is so encouraging and special.  I didnt know her at all, but I’ve been so blessed by what I hear about her life. Love you!
    Oh I also wanted to say, I think God will give you creative and special ways to speak into the lives of her children in a way that only a dear friend can.  You hold a special piece of the puzzle of her life that is invaluable to her children.

    Reply

  29. Anonymous

    Wow! Thats beautiful!!! It brought tears to my eyes. Thanks so much for writing the tribute! I remember being a 5 or 6 year old and her teaching SS when we went to church together way back :)!!!

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  30. jolenedawn

     I am sorry for your loss. May our heavenly Father hold you close!

    I am having a hard time writing how I am feeling after reading this beautiful tribute…it’s like a deep ache of sadness and yet I have been so inspired by your description of a life well lived.

    Reply

  31. Anonymous

    This touched me so much.  I have reread it several times and even more than that, your tribute to your precious friend has come to mind many, many times and been discussed in this home.  It’s led to great talks about eternity, living life eternally-minded since we never know when that last breath is going to be.  Just wanted you to know that your sharing with us about this special friendship with such a special person has left one of those lasting impressions on my heart.  Thank you!  I will be praying for you and the precious family Ruth has left behind.

    Reply

  32. Lenore

    I am so very sorry for the loss of your friend. What a beautiful tribute you wrote to her. When I saw where the church she attended was (Paradise, PA), I almost fell over. I live in Strasburg. Seven years ago, I lost my younger sister at age 42 due to mitral valve prolapse. She was in her neighborhood walking her dog. One of her neighbors found her. She was my best friend, my baby sister. I had given my life to Jesus about 3 years before she passed. I used to try to talk to her about Jesus, and she would shush me, didn’t want to hear it. She called me one night about 2 weeks before she passed, asking me to tell her about Jesus. I was so happy. I pray that she is waiting for me when I get to Heaven. Again, I am so very sorry.

    Reply

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Your message touched me deeply! The shock of losing someone so suddenly is so painful! And your best friend and sister. I’m so sorry for your loss! How very precious that you were able to share Jesus with her! How I hope she is waiting for you in Heaven! Today is Ruth’s birthday, and the grieving hits hard again… Blessings to you!

      Reply

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