The phone call came yesterday afternoon. The one I knew would eventually come but somehow had fooled myself into thinking it was still a way's away.
Martha Jo Wafer Byers was an amazing person.
She was a true redhead. The last few years she spent most of the time without hair because of her chemo, but when she had hair, it was glorious. I could always tell when she was at the needlework shop when I pulled on the parking lot. Her car tag read "JOJORED". She, to my knowledge, never wore a wig. A do rag was her cup of tea.
Jo loved to stitch. And she did beautiful work. The one piece that stand out in my mind was the Christmas stocking she made for her stepson, James. And even if she felt bad, she was at Tuesday night stitching.
Jo has a sister named Pat. I've actually known Pat longer than Jo. They not only were sisters, but best friends. Where one was, the other was somewhere nearby. I never had a sister. Brother either, for that matter. That type of love passed me by and for that I'm so sorry. Pat is numb right now, but in the weeks to come she will face a life without Jo, as we all will. But the love of a sister must be so special. I see it in my two granddaughters.
Jo was a fighter. Even when the breast cancer occurred and re-occurred, even when it spread to her bones, she kept going. And this week it entered her brain with a vengeance. She was gone so soon. For that I think I'm grateful. I don't think she would have liked to linger as she would have been. Jo was healed yesterday. For the rest of us, especially Pat, we have just begun to hurt, much less be healed.
There is a good side to this story. Jo was a Christian and that means that one day we'll be sitting in some one's mansion, in Heaven, laughing and stitching. This time with the finest linen and solid gold thread. And Jo will have her red hair back. And Pat will be with her sister. All the pain will be gone: the suffering kind and the missing kind.
I have been stitching on a pink bear this week. With a purple hat with pink ribbons on it. It is to be a donation to Stitching For A Cure. I was going to write an "in honor" of Jo on the jacket. Then I thought it would become an "in memory of". I've changed my mind. It will stay as I planned. Jo is still alive in her family and friends. It's sitting in the chair facing me, waiting to be finished.
So, Jo, fly now. There's so much to see in Heaven, so I know the stitching will be put aside for a while. Enjoy yourself. You're free now.