There is so much on my heart to share about Mindy; it's hard to know where to begin....
Mindy was such a sweetheart. I don't mean that in the trite way. She really had a sweet, sweet heart. She was gentle and kind, and she loved her whole family, from her grandparents to her cousins and their children.
Mindy was quiet and laid back, but she wasn't shy. I've heard over and over the last few days that Mindy could light up a room, and that is true. It was her dazzling smile, which I always felt was especially for me. Each time I came to Rick's for a family gathering, I rounded the corner to the kitchen to find Mindy at the stove, trying out a new recipe that I knew would be delicious. Her whole face would light up because she was delighted to see me. I felt like the guest of honor no matter how many people were there. And I suspect we all felt that way.
She had a dry, irreverent sense of humor like her father, and she could always make me laugh. I loved to listen to their banter.
Oh how she loved dogs. I've never seen someone who loved them more. I'm not a dog person, but the love she lavished on her two Dachshunds made me wish that I were. Howie and Chloe were her joy.
|Mindy and Howie|
From a very young age, Mindy loved travel. She's a big part of so many of my best family vacation memories. She camped with us, went to San Antonio with us, and flew to Canada with us twice. Having her along added so much joy for us because that girl just really knew how to have fun. She loved any kind of outdoor activity, and I had the privilege of watching her learn to water ski, wake board, rock climb, and snowboard. She wasn't exactly fearless; she was certainly nervous. But she didn't let fear stop her from having fun, and whatever it was, she was confident that she could do it.
|Probably my favorite picture of Mindy - |
Sledding with Uncle Bill in Vancouver
I wish I had time to tell you all the stories stored up in my heart. I'd like to share one silly one that maybe no one else knows. Mindy posted this comment on a blog entry I'd written about running a country convenience store back when she was a very small girl (about 9):
Oh man do I remember those burgers, they were to die for! My memories of Mitchell and I staying out there with y'all are vague but one really sticks out in my mind. When he would bully me or give me a hard time, I would write it all down so that I could tell my parents when we got back and they could punish him for all of the horrible things: "Mitchell hit my arm", "Mitchell called me stupid 2 times", "Mitchell told me to to shut up!". Lol I think by the time I got home I was so excited to see my parents that I forgot all about it.
I'm happy to say that she and Mitchell worked through their differences and have been dear friends for years now.
My favorite recent memory of Mindy is the pasta cooking lesson we attended with Rick in December 2012.
|Rick, Me, Mindy|
|Family Pasta Night at Rick's|
Family Friend David in the Back
It had been less than a month since Bill and I separated, and I was hurting terribly. Mindy was a normal, busy college student, and it was the Christmas season, yet she made time to spend a whole Tuesday evening with her aunt. Laughing with her and Rick was medicine for my torn heart.
Mindy and I developed a closer bond over the next couple of years. She was compassionate and kind, always concerned for me. She didn't necessarily say a lot, but she had a way of drawing me out. She was a great listener, and a cheerleader for me as my heart began to mend and I started enjoying life again.
We loved to talk about cooking and about eating. She shared my love for vegetarian meals, and we liked to swap recipes.
Mindy was a strong, determined young lady. She had some struggles with college, and it took her some time to find the right direction. But she stuck with it for seven years and finally achieved her goal this past spring. I was more proud of her than I could have been if she had breezed through it in four years.
I don't know how we can bear losing our sweet Mindy, but of course we must. Rick shared his concern last night that because Mindy was the glue that brought the family together, that we might drift apart. Mindy was the one who thought up activities and arranged them. She was the one who organized the cancer walks.
|Me, Rick, Diane, Mindy - Undy 5000|
We agreed that this was Mindy's legacy. She loved family. I think it was because of the ordeal of Rick's colon cancer in her mid teens. She visited him every day after school, and she sat with him during every infusion. She never forgot what it was like to almost lose her daddy, and she never took any of her family for granted.
Last night we vowed to honor Mindy's memory by making our family time a priority from this point on. Right now we need each other desperately, but truly we always need each other.
These last few days have been a good start. The love binding us together has been palpable. We've hugged each other tighter, and much longer--way beyond the usual quick squeeze. We've added kisses to the hugs. We've rubbed backs and squeezed shoulders. We've said, "I love you so much."
In the middle of her own loss, Diane has comforted her nieces and nephews, speaking words of affirmation and hope.
|Diane with Susie, Allyson, and Halle|
I see the same strength in her that held her family together during Rick's illness. Here is what Mindy said about that in a comment on one of my blog entries titled Circle of Strength:
I love that you wrote this. I vividly remember that day.
I never really stopped to think about just how much of a Mama Bear that my mom was during that time but you described it perfectly. She was (and still is) definitely the rock in our family. When my dad was suffering, I was falling apart and Mitchell was shutting down, she kept herself and us together.
Diane is still a Mama Bear, but I pray she will realize now that she doesn't have to be strong. She is surrounded by people who love her, and we are still a Circle of Strength. I've never been more thankful for the love of my family. This is surely a treasure in the darkness. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5)
Mindy, we are so thankful that we had 25 beautiful years with you. You touched our lives deeply and we will never forget you.