This is a picture of my friend Anita Schick. It was taken in 2007, but it represents what she looked like at the time of her passing on August 21, 2009.
Her maiden name was Parker and so, by a twist of fate, we sat next to each other in nearly every class at the beginning of 7th grade at Mission Junior High. Most teachers had us seated by alphabetical order of last name at the beginning of the school year to make it easier for them to learn our names and take roll… and you can’t fit many names between Pagel and Parker.
We shared many classes and other activities together (band, musicals, etc) until we graduated high school in the spring of 1989.
What a smile! And what a joyful and steady friend to have in a time where things often seem much more complicated and important than they really are.
I’ve heard of some other friends from high school who have already passed before their time. I’m that age now. We don’t get invitations to friends’ weddings and baby announcements any more… but we do attend more funerals for friends and family and get invitations to friends’ children’s weddings and their baby announcements.
I hear that we were expected to live for about 70 years… but I know that means that for every friend who leaves at around 40 there will be one who sticks around until 100.
So many of Anita’s friends from high school wanted to reconnect with Anita, especially because of our 20th reunion in 2009. We were unsuccessful… but there’s already been some glimpses of a silver lining.
Greg Schick married Anita on August 20, 1994.
On August 27, 2009 Greg wrote…
Man, if I’m not in the valley of the shadow of death right now, then I don’t know where I am…
I didn’t know Greg before Anita’s passing. I’m not sure any of Anita’s high school friends did although there probably were some. I know that Greg didn’t know much about us… the many Anita Parker friends and fans who suddenly appeared in his life upon hearing of his personal tragedy.
The silver lining I spoke of?
As for me… making a connection with Greg and resolving to connect with people ASAP and not put it off. The reconnecting with high school friends via Facebook and in-real-life (Bunco anyone?) has been a very rich experience… I was very pleasantly surprised by this.
The silver lining for Greg? Not as simple and I certainly don’t want to speak on his behalf… but this is how I see it…
He’s been writing about Anita’s life, business, bible, kids, music, and more at his blog called Anita’s Love.
It is a heartbreaking account of a life cut too short… and I appreciate Greg sharing his grief with us. It seems that it has helped him to connect with people from a time of Anita’s life that he didn’t know much about (junior and senior high) and I know that reading Greg’s posts has helped all of us who longed to reconnect with Anita and wondered who she had become, who she had blessed, who she had helped, and who loved her now.
Through Greg’s writing, our questions are answered. And the silver lining begins to appear…
When Greg posted some of Anita’s achievements, he started by saying…
A list of achievements cannot possibly describe in enough detail a person’s life. However, I thought this could provide a framework of where she went through her life. Please note that other than her husband and kids, she would rarely mention any of these things. She was always much more concerned with people than things she might have done in the past.
And if I could just draw attention to what Greg wrote after listing out Anita’s many notable accomplishments…
Please excuse a husband to brag on his wife. However, I will quote from her bible notes in the book of Ezra to what she and I believe: “It is not personal achievement, but personal commitment to live for God, that is important.”
And there’s Greg’s silver lining… a personal commitment to live for God. At least it seems this way to me.
I have to say… and this may surprise many of you… I don’t really understand what it means to “live for God”. Sometimes I’m pretty sure I’m doing it… sometimes I’m pretty sure I’m not… but most of the time I’m just doing my best and hoping for the best.
But each time I read Greg’s blog about Anita’s life and love, I feel like I “get it” just a little bit more… what it means to “live for God”.
That doesn’t mean any of this has been anything but a slog through the valley of the shadow of death for Greg… but there… even in that valley… God is with Greg… with us. God is for us.
Greg’s recent post, after a period of silence on the blog, entitled It’s Not About Me seems to be written by a man who either sees the skies brightening after the storm or who feels safe in the protective shield of God’s “wings” while the storm lingers. I don’t know which and I suspect it is both. You really need to read his words and I encourage you to click over now or after reading this post… it will just take a few minutes.
I didn’t always think of my Christian walk in this way… but for me, the only way it really makes sense is to think of it as a journey… and specifically a pilgrimage. Along the road… we’ll probably visit a vast variety of adventures… some dark and scary… some bright and beautiful… most in between.
I’m glad for the time I walked the journey with Anita.
I’m glad to see Greg walking on… continuing his journey… hand-in-hand with his kids… with a hip-hop soundtrack blasting in all the languages of the world as they ease on down the road… living for God and showing others how to live for God, too.