“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:16)
The first time I saw Kai, she was sitting in my front yard hugging my dog. I had just pulled into my driveway and there she was. She stood up, smiled, and waved. She introduced herself as my new neighbor while she continued to pet my black Lab, Harley. I liked her immediately but didn’t know then what an impact she would have on my life.
Soon we were not only neighbors but good friends as well. When Kai greeted you with her high pitched voice you always felt like the most special person in the world. The deliveryman, the repairman, the other neighbors, and anyone who came to her door was treated like family.
Kai had four cats but when a stray beagle was injured by a bear, she adopted the dog and nursed her back to health. Whenever my sons, daughter, and I visited her she would welcome us in with a smile, sit us down, and cut us a piece of cake. When she found out I loved Hawaiin shirts she gave me a beautiful one that still hangs in my closet today. She was always helping others, giving to others, and encouraging others. She always had a wise bit of advice, a kind word, and a gentle hug for everyone. No matter who you were you always left her house feeling a little better and a little happier.
All of the time I was getting to know Kai, though, she was dying. She had told me that first day I met her that she was “terminal”. She was battling several health problems at once and was slowly losing the fight. She and her husband, Sean, owned their own cleaning business, but after a while Kai was too weak to work there anymore.
During the last months of her life she grew weaker and had to spend most of her time in bed. Finally, on a cold, dark, Winter’s day her body gave out and she died in her home. She was only in her fifties and had left us far too soon. The day she passed I walked back to my house, closed the door to my bedroom, and cried. She had touched my life so much in the brief time I knew her. I had become a better person because of her and I knew others had as well. I still miss her today.
Desiderus Erasmus once wrote: “Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.” That is what Kai did. She gave her light. She shared her love. And this world was so much brighter because she was in it.
Kai taught me something too: We are all “terminal.” But it is never too late to give your light. It is never too late to love without fear and touch others with your kindness. This short life here is God’s gift to you. Make how you live it your gift to God.
By: Joseph J. Mazzella