Settle in folks, the bloggy blog revival post is gonna take a minute.
This morning I got a text that my friend Linda had died (Tuesday morning). We knew it was coming. She found out she had cancer last year and fought like only she could. I anticipated the text for the last 4 days… but it still has hit me hard. The hard only comes because of the good. Here is the story of Linda in my life.
When I moved to Opelika in 2002 I started attending a church called Cornerstone and worked at the hospital. I was assigned as one of my units the oncology units. The girl who had covered it told me how great a doctor she was, I remember being so intimidated by her. She had it together and knew what she wanted. As I got to know her as a physician I knew she cared about her patients. She wasn’t afraid to tell them the truth and make a referral for hospice when it was time.
We monthly had what they called Cancer Conference- a free lunch and discussion of interesting and difficult cases. Linda always spoke of her patients as people and you could tell when caring and finding a course of action seemed difficult. She spoke of research and drugs listing reasons why they may or may not work. She would mention upcoming interventions that she had read about. She studied and worked to know everything she could about the diseases she helped people fight. Linda always wanted the best for them. Not only for physical well being, but for their emotions, mind and home life. The life outside of the disease.
I ended up in Life Group with Linda and Kermit. I remember when I got my house them coming one day with a beautiful lovely chicken sandwich in hand. The braves games in the insufferable heat. Lunch at random places Kermit had found in Atlanta. Kermit and Linda’s routine of an imaginary grenade He would throw out the car window. He would hold up his hand, she would pull the imaginary pin, he would throw it out the window at the target in view. They would both do their smirky smiles. Her laughter, eye rolls, and stories about whatever thing Kermit was doing she thought ridiculous, but we knew she absolutely loved.
Meals with Linda at Mandarian House back before Auburn got great and fabulous places like Acre and so many others. I think the last time we ate together at Mandarian was a weekend I worked, she and I both planning to meet up after our rounding and finishing up at the hospital. I remember her laugh and smile over my Chinese and her fancy food I knew nothing about that the cooks made with a smile on the sushi side of the restaurant.
I remember going to see Chronicles of Narnia at the movie theater with Kermit and Linda. As we walked out of the theater she said something along the lines of “I just don’t get it.” Meaning- I just don’t understand why everyone thinks that movie is so great and loved it. We discussed the parallel of Aslan and Christ, but in the end I didn’t have her convinced it was an amazing set of stories. LOTR and Star Wars has remained her movie jam. Haha
One fourth of July Kermit and Linda ended up at my parents for dinner before fireworks in Auburn. My parents had invited over someone from their church to join us, thinking maybe he might be someone I could be interested in. As we hung out in the living room before dinner we saw the gentleman coming down the drive and I remember Linda saying “oh Andi. No. no. no.” as she shook her head and we all laughed. He was not what we would say in my southern vernacular “a looker.” He was nice and quiet, not quite prepared for the crew of folks gathered around the dinner table. She was right. Nope. Haha
I was so grateful to get to watch the story of Spencer’s adoption play out. All the myriad of paperwork required and the stress and time, but in the end arrived such a gift in Spencer. His party that first time with a packed house of people while he just did his thing . He did not seem to care about the people who really just wanted to pick him up and squeeze him, oblivious to how excited we all were that day to meet him.
There was a difficult time in Linda’s life when she was faced with a decision to possibly leave the community. I won’t speak of details in this space, but I remember reaching out to her, trying to find the words to encourage her how I KNEW that the Lord had her here and his plan wasn’t for her to move. Thankfully she let me come over and I remember sitting on the couch talking to her about it. I remember being sure that staying was the answer…selfishly I wanted it to be the answer. She let me pray for her- on that couch; Not knowing what to do but to take her to the Lord.
Thankfully she stayed. Her office was in the hospital, so I could swing down and say hey. To just harass her for a moment as she signed paperwork or again checked my ear for an ear infection. I remember when Kermit surprised her with a new lamp for her office- a home depot lamp repurposed with a homemade lampshade with photos of UNC basketball. I still think of that lamp, the way she loved UNC and Kermit loved her so creatively. Plus I just liked the lamp.
There are so many things I could share about how she affected my life. When I think of Wednesday I always think of Linda. It was my day I prayed for her specially. It was her day off. Kermit always did what he could to guard that day and make sure she enjoyed it. I would see her come by CFA for lunch on Wed and I always smiled, knowing she got a small reprieve that day from the work she poured her life into. I always asked what she was up to that day- some trip to Atlanta or some other adventure with Kermit.
I think of how the Ugandan children’s choir performed at my church. I wasn’t there that night, but I heard so many talk about how wonderful it was. Kermit and I ran into each other at church later that week and he told me “We are going to go to Uganda and do a medical trip.” That statement was the beginning of conversation that lead to a partnership with a community in Buloba. Child sponsorship, a community well with fresh free water for the community, a church, a medical clinic at the now local Bible University down the street. All of that was not just our church, but part of a partnership we got to be a part of. Because Linda and Kermit had a passion for people and big vision and dreams.
I wish I could remember the last time I saw Linda. The last time I hugged her. I believe it was stopping by EAMC when the cancer center was still down at the end of the building. I had come in for some medical testing on leave from Honduras. I always made my way down that hall to see her smile and hug her neck. Added bonus was the other friends I had grown to know over my time at EAMC.
Since that day we have often texted about UNC basketball, Auburn football, or random things such as an adventure Kermit had been on or how Spencer has grown into a grown up. My last text to her was simply to tell her I loved her and I was praying for her.
Her support over the years has always been faithful. She didn’t say a whole lot, but I knew that she would do what she could to encourage me and help whatever crazy thing the Lord was leading me into next. Every trip I have ever been on and my living in Honduras she and Kermit were part of my support team. She would say things about how great it was and I would always reply in the fashion of something along the lines of not as amazing as what you do every day. Somehow I even ended up with a North Carolina license plate to adorn my US map I have made. Her name will always be in the legend next to it that lists those who contributed license plates for their states.
A couple of years ago I went to the beach and woke up with my eyelid swollen. I reached out to my doc in Alabama about it. I thought I had a blocked tear duct. I found out he wasn’t in and the Nurse Practioner I knew in Ohio couldn’t call anything in to Florida. So I texted Linda. A little while later she asked for a photo. As soon as she saw it she said “You have shingles!” We had a discussion where I listed all the reasons why it wasn’t shingles. She called in a couple of things for me to Walgreens and I was on the mend.
Until the trip home a couple of days later. My head was itching, the side of my face hurt… putting everything together the next day I realized she was right. I had shingles. I should have known from symptoms that started almost a week and a half earlier. I didn’t know. But Linda Farmer, the smartest woman I have known in the medical field knew. Just from a photo of my swollen eyelid (the shingle spot was on the inside). She was always right. She was just that smart.
My first purchase after I post this today will be a UNC basketball shirt. I have always liked blue, but never owned anything legitimately Carolina blue. I will wear it and think of her waiting for us in Heaven. I will be reminded to love people well. To give and live like Linda. Thankful to know that today was not the end of Linda’s life. That she will be as Kermit said “waiting for us at Heaven’s gate.” I cannot wait to hug her and laugh with her again.
My prayers remain with those who she loved most- Kermit and Spencer. For the missing her that begins today. May the Holy Spirit speak to their hearts as only He can. As Kermit has said "Please don't be sad or sorry for us. Be sad for those that never knew her impact. Be sad for the patients that will never be touched or treated by her. We are all the special ones. We knew her. We loved her. One person even got to marry her." So we are thankful and we pray for Kermit and Spencer that the Holy Spirit would lead them.
She was the biggest, fiercest, small South Korean woman I have ever met. I dare say that I will ever meet. She leaves a void in the world that is unique and I know I am not alone in saying I will miss her. I have been eternally changed because of her part of my life. I have been eternally challenged to live life differently because of her investment in my life and the lives of those she worked with and served.
I thank the Lord for the life of Linda. I will miss looking for her when I am back in Auburn. I am already anticipating seeing her in eternity. Thankful to know that day is coming.
Hug your people today.
Be like HiM.
And somehow this is the only photo I have with Linda. She probably hated it. LOL