I learned some things over the years from Alisa and my life has been touched by her amazing spirit.
Kindness Is Essential
I became friends with Alisa and her (soon to be) husband Josh in high school. Alisa was one of the "popular kids" in school. But it wasn't because she was a star athlete or the smartest student in the grade. It was because of her kindness toward everyone. Everyone! Being popular, Alisa never saw herself as better than anyone else. She was as gracious and kind to the loners as she was to the star quarterback. I admired how she was a friend to the friendless.
Alisa was happiest when she was with her family. She cherished her husband and three sons and found true joy in being a wife and mother. She didn't take time with them for granted and took advantage of her time with them. I love THIS blog post she wrote about her family.
Hope Is Essential
I was inspired and at times downright surprised at Alisa's hope and faith. She had setback after setback after setback. I can't help but imagine how discouraged I would have felt in her shoes. Maybe she did indeed feel some of that discouragement. But after each setback she always seemed to resolve to be strong and put her hope in the belief that the next treatment would work better, or tomorrow would be better. Even when her life was clouded by storms, she had the hope that the rain would be followed by a rainbow.
Gratitude Is Essential
Go read Alisa's blog HERE. You'll see how even amidst the most trying of times she was still able to feel gratitude for all her blessings. Her example is a reminder to me of everything I have to be thankful for.
Around a month ago I heard this voice in my heart telling me I needed to go visit Alisa. Through reading her blog and a few emails I knew her time on Earth was short. Things worked out and I was so fortunate to spend some time with Alisa and her family. She was so thoughtful and even had a little gift bag for me when I arrived. (Seriously? Who, when they are struggling with pain and nausea and illness...thinks about getting a gift bag for a visitor? I had to smile that the things she gave me were almost exactly the same things I brought for her and her family.)
Alisa talked about the kindness that people have shown her and her family. She talked about how even though there is a lot of bad in the world, there is so, so much good. She said she's seen it. She has felt it. She has felt it. I will always remember that visit. I am so thankful I listened to that voice in my heart.
(Side note: Alisa is the reason we now have a poodle as a member of our family.)
I can't help but think of Alisa arriving in heaven this morning. I can see her standing face to face with Jesus. I can see him smiling and hugging her and telling her how brave and strong and courageous she was despite all her challenges. I can see him saying how proud he is of her.
We will miss you Alisa. Thank you for the kindness you showed and the example that you were. I will try to be more like you. Heaven is lucky to have you.