What do you do when it’s too late?
Cristi Buffenbarger and I were about all there was when we lived in Bolingbrook, Illinois.
We lived across the lawn from each other when our children were little. Ben was three when we moved in, her Stephen was two, Brad was one and her Suzie was a baby.
She came over and held Brad in cold water when he was running a fever while I was reading to Ben and Carl was working and I was desperate. I babysat for her and she babysat for me. We spent hours together, laughing and talking. We were kindred. Neither of us had a car, both of us loved to laugh, and hardly the day went by that we weren’t together, outside in the summer, inside in the winter. She was so funny, so kind, so dear to my heart.
She was raised in Chicago, I was raised in Utah, and we had much to share.
One day, I borrowed a thermometer and broke it. She told me not to worry because she had another, but I replaced it anyway. She thought that was a remarkably honorable thing to do. It was really nothing, but a long story made short, she investigated the Church and became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- a Mormon.
It’s hard to relate how much I love her.
Yesterday I went on Facebook to wish her a Happy Birthday and things were strange there. People said they’d miss her. Then someone said she’d make a great missionary in the Celestial Kingdom. I Googled her name and there was her obituary. She’d died on June 10 of this year after a three-year battle with breast cancer. I’d known she was sick. But I thought she’d beaten it. I’d not talked to her in so long. I am crying.
She’d not even had a funeral. She was cremated. If I’d only known I’d have been back there before she died. Why didn’t I know? She’d been divorced for so long and her children wouldn’t remember me so who would have told me? I guess it would have been her, but was she too sick? I should have stayed closer. I should have done something. I should have known somehow. Maybe she thought that would be too much to ask for me to come see her. It wouldn't have been. No way. Not for Cristi.
God give us strength. God preserve our love. God fill the in blanks. God, thank you for those we love and still have in our midst. God help us.