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Each month on Truly Madly Sassy, I like to feature someone who has been an inspiration to me and this month’s post is a sad one at best. Kaye Warren, an old friend from Mississippi, was supposed to be writing this in her own words, but as you’ll soon see, God had other plans for her.
I met Kaye when I was diagnosed with lupus in 1998. Kaye was a member of the support group that I joined to learn more about the disease. She always had a sweetness about her: mild-mannered, kind-hearted, and if anybody in this world had a servant’s heart, it was surely her. She loved doing things for others and never failed to have a word of encouragement for those who were fortunate enough to know her.
Kaye was diagnosed with lupus at the age of 22 and her prognosis was no longer than five years.
As it turns out, that prognosis was wrong and she spent decades encouraging others with the same illness. I never saw her have a bad day, and if she did, she didn’t show it. She was always positive, steadfast in her faith, and extended love and grace to everyone she came in contact with. Having said that, it probably won’t surprise you to know that Kaye was a nurse who loved her work. She received the “Second Mile Award” from Baptist Hospital for exceptional patient care and it was well deserved. She was also a volunteer for the Cleveland Clinic and counseled heart valve replacement patients. Kaye made such a difference in the lives of so many simply because she had a heart for helping others.
After I relocated to Tennessee from Mississippi in 2005, I lost track of Kaye for several years. But thankfully, the world of facebook eventually reconnected us.
When I inquired about her health, she gave me the run down, but would always say “God has been so good to me!” — and that wasn’t a cliche at all because she really, truly meant it. We talked about her pets (she loved them so much!), how the death of her parents was still difficult for her, and how wonderful her brother Lynn was for taking care of her when she needed extra support.
Kaye was delighted when I asked her to be this month’s inspirational woman and told me she had started writing a book of short stories about finding hope in times of adversity.
She said she’d always wanted to do it, but that it hadn’t fallen together so easily for her. Once it did, though, the words just flowed and she couldn’t stop writing. She told me as soon as she could manage it, she’d write a post for Truly Madly Sassy about the very thing she was writing short stories about. I hope that those stories are readily accessible and can someday be published in her memory; I’m sure they’re very good and I know she had a gift for writing.
Kaye became ill a few days after we talked about her writing for the blog.
She hadn’t been feeling well for months and was between the hospital and rehab multiple times. I told her that she had always been such an inspiration to me because she never threw pity-parties. She said she’d had a few meltdowns herself and reminded me that it was called being ‘human’. She also reminisced about the time that Jody and I had come to see her at the hospital when we still lived in Mississippi. Turns out that she still had the mug we had given her which was filled with candy and flowers. It’s bittersweet for me to think about that time now; after all, I still had so much to learn from her…we all had so much to learn from her.
The last conversation I had with Kaye was on June 28th. She had been transferred to a facility for extensive rehab.
While I’m sure she was discouraged, she posted only encouraging, uplifting things on facebook. I inquired via messenger asking how she was feeling. I told her I wished I lived closer because I would love to come see her. A little while later, she sent me this message:
“I’ve been quite ill, but I’ve survived and soooo happy and thankful to be back in rehab. Long way to go, but I’m here. Any good about me is of our Lord, not me. I feel blessed to have walked those lupus paths and maybe be of some encouragement to someone else. GOD has been good to me. I, too, would love to spend time with you. We weren’t together all that much way-back-when, but I truly did enjoy being around you. I don’t think I’ll be able to get your piece written for you any time soon, but will when I can. I love you and wish you well with all.”
Kaye’s Facebook posts stopped showing up in my newsfeed a few of days after that.
I went to her page to see if she’d posted any updates on her health. What I wasn’t prepared to see was a post from Lynn saying that she’d had to be airlifted back to a hospital in Jackson on July 3rd for surgery; she was so critically ill that she died in the SICU around 10:15 pm that evening. I had not seen Kaye in years, but sadness filled my heart knowing that there would be no more kind words, no more encouraging posts, and no more messages from Kaye about the stories she had been writing.
When I went back to read that final message that Kaye had sent me and re-read the last sentence, I wondered if she somehow knew that her sweet, precious life was soon going to end.
I’ve heard it said that we can sense it when life is coming to a close. She was a nurse, so it wouldn’t surprise me if she suspected. After all those years in the profession, she certainly knew what to look for.
As to what Kaye’s two greatest disappointments in life might have been, it was conveyed to me that it was probably the inability of the Lupus Foundation of Mississippi to continue to sustain itself after she became physically unable to meet its leadership demands and her not having the time to complete her beloved book.
Since her passing, her friends have written many loving sentiments on her facebook timeline about how much they’ll miss her, how encouraged they always felt by her, and how they admired her for fighting so hard to continue to live. It is a loss; a great loss, indeed.
Kaye, thank you for always encouraging me when I had bad days and for posting such uplifting things on social media. You’ve always been such an inspiration not just to me, but to others as well. You’ve taught me so much about carrying on with life in the face of adversity and I’m sad that you’re not here anymore. You’re finally at peace and rejoicing in the place you’ve always known would be your final destination, so I know how selfish I’m being to wish you were still here. For those who are left behind, it is extremely sad; but for you, sweet friend, it is an incredible celebration. You truly were an angel on earth and I will never, ever forget you.
Kaye’s favorite song in the last few days of her life. Thank you, Lynn, for sharing.
Til next time, stay sassy.
If you knew Kaye, please feel free to share your favorite memories of her in the comment section below.