She walked in joy

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By Jessica Brodie

When I was a kid, I thought my Aunt Marsha was the epitome of cool. She was young, professional, sharp, and savvy. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up, always telling these fabulous stories, working at a downtown high-rise, and driving my zippy little car to and fro, gabbing with friends and all-out rocking life.

Marsha and I had the same complexion and same golden highlights, and she had all these amazing things—a gold buckle ring! A real guitar! Great perfume! I even trained myself to fashion my handwritten “m” and “n” letters the same way she wrote hers, and still write them that way to this day. She loved music and dancing and people, and I will hands-down never forget the summer we all—my mom, my little sis, and I—got to live in Aunt Marsha’s sunny, festive apartment in South Florida.

Just like that, I went from eight years old to forty-three. Just like that, she ended up on the west coast while I navigated the east, having babies, growing my own career, slipping farther away.

And just like that, she’s gone, passed away just this month at the age of sixty-seven.

Now, instead of hearing her laughter on the other end of the phone, I have to close my eyes and remember the sounds of my childhood, picture my carefree, smart, vibrant aunt showing us all how it was done, living her joy with a capital J and a swoop on the end.

I know death is a part of life. I know our souls live on in heaven, and I know the promises we stand upon—an eternity of jubilance with our Father God.

Still, it hurts when people we love are gone too soon, too unexpectedly. Even though we know our time is short and finite, we often live our lives as if we’ll always have another chance for a quick text or call, another chance for an “I love you,” another chance to take that long-awaited trip together or have that deep talk we’ve been meaning to. I know that’s what I did. I never got to say goodbye to my sweet, fun, fierce aunt—never got to tell her how much she meant to me.

I pray she knows. I know she knows.

But oh, it’s so hard.

Today, as I look back on a life shaped by my beautiful, never-met-a-stranger aunt, the one word I keep coming back to is joy. Forget “cool”—Marsha epitomized joy! Her laugh, her contagious smile, her love for life. In her later years, her health was poor, but still she laughed. Her family lived a thousand miles away and she couldn’t easily travel, but still she managed to call and be a part of Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. She never missed a birthday. She had so much love it just poured out of her, uncontainable.

And the way she loved my uncle Mike, her husband! They were each other’s everything, and they loved with a fierce, all-in, all-consuming fullness that takes my breath away. It will always be an inspiration.

We honor my Aunt Marsha when we follow her lead: when we love others fiercely and with all we are. When we choose laughter over tears. When we seize fun in the little, everyday moments just because.

We honor Marsha we walk in joy… just like she did.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy…” (James 1:22)

In loving memory of my aunt, Marsha Bryant Korotaeff, July 26, 1951, to Sept. 22, 2018.

Your turn: Have you lost someone you love? How have you coped with grief?

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