My children and I had had our vacation plans made months before we flew from Arctic Canada to Winnipeg, Manitoba. After spending a couple of nights there, we proceeded to drive to Virginia, USA to meet with friends I had met online.
We enjoyed ourselves immensely, driving through states whose lines we had never crossed. I was having a field day highlighting my atlas to show the new routes I'd driven, sizing up other states I'd take my family to visit during future summer vacations.
We had gotten back to Arctic Canada in the summer of 2005 having had one of the best vacations. A few weeks later, I saw a comment on my website from Bernice Branford Lewis, whom I've affectionately called Mama Lewis for several years.
Essentially, Mama Lewis and I were introduced because of a poem I had written several years ago. She had been searching for something online to share with her Sunday School class and came across my poem, which you can read below.
The secret place
in which I dwell
My heart doth swell.
It's my refuge.
I can safely trust
The One who keeps me
Without a fuss.
Because He hides me
Beneath His wing,
I can rejoice
My soul's at peace,
Though I shed a tear.
I am not afraid...
My Lord is here.
Copyright 2004 Norma Budden
She was filled with energy and it came through in her e-mails. I could picture her with raised hands, cheering me on as I'd take on another challenge and tackle it. It didn't matter what the nature of that challenge was; it could have pertained to my writing career, my day job, my family or anything else. Her ears were always open and her suggestions always sound and grounded in the Bible.
It wasn't so long ago that she told me she was having trouble breathing. I was worried but she blamed it on all the food she had partaken of during the Christmas season. I'm not sure whether she got checked by a doctor; she didn't say.
My children and I had hoped to see her again this coming summer but, alas, it is no longer possible. January 17, 2014, I prepared myself for the worst - yet hoped for a miracle - when a mutual friend, Brian White, informed me that Mama Lewis had been admitted to the hospital.
Having survived her share of hardships and heartaches, she - who came out a survivor, who helped others as a way of life - transitioned from this life unto the next on January 18, 2014.
I can only presume that God chose to take her for a reason. It seems she had carried out her purpose for being with us and now rests with God and His host of angels.
I always knew the day would come when Bernice Branford Lewis and I would have to part company. I had hoped it would be years from now but I thank God for the eight years I enjoyed having her as part of my life.
We never set foot in a classroom together yet she was one of my greatest teachers, greatest cheerleaders, greatest sources of inspiration and one of the greatest friends a person could hope to have.
She knew I loved her and that's what's most important. I won't live with regret for not having told her how much I cared about her. She passed on knowing I treasured the ground she walked on.
In fact, once I created a tribute page to show her how I felt. She loved it but could never figure out how to leave a comment so she let me know in an e-mail. If you'd like to visit this tribute, please visit Who is Bernice Branford Lewis?
I'll miss you, Mama Lewis, but you shall never be forgotten.