Vickie Sue Robinson Good is gone. She left us last Thursday.
I was with her just a few days before, on Easter Sunday. I knew that she would be leaving soon, but I was shocked to get the call on Thursday morning. “Too soon!”
I can’t get myself to say that she died. It’s not that I need euphemisms—I need time. I can’t believe that Vickie is gone. She had the most amazing energy, a unique vitality, a magnificent presence. Her spirit was contagious. She brought us to our feet on so many Sunday mornings. She moved us to emotional-spiritual heights.
Four years ago she struggled through the battle of her life—a battle for her life. She made it. She survived the cancer. Then she turned the beat around on stage in her one-woman off-Broadway autobiographical sketch. It was a magnificent performance, and an inspiration. A lasting gift.
She asked me to come to see her on Easter. She had been home from the hospital for a few days, confined to bed, dependent on oxygen. She was alert. She knew, in that knowing place, that her Easter was at hand, that it would soon be necessary for her to let go of life on this plane of existence. She asked me about my Easter sermon, “Christ is Risen.”
I told her that I had used the story of the two followers of Jesus who were despondent as they walked the seven-mile road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. When Jesus came to them and walked with them, the story says, “Their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” When they got to the house in Emmaus they invited this stranger to join them for dinner, and when they broke bread together, the story says, “Their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.”
This, of course, is a reference to what he had told them, earlier: “As you have done it to one of the least of these my brethren you’ve done it to me.”
I suggested that the Christ concept is our potential for compassion—our capacity to open our hearts, to love. The Christmas story says, “The Prince of Peace is born in us,” and the Easter story says that though Jesus the man died, Christ (Love) lives on and can be seen when our spiritual eyes are opened. We realize that the love we have felt for another, and the love that they gave to us, lives on.
The spirit that was in Vickie Sue will live on. Her voice was recorded, of course, and I’ve been listening as I drive from here to there, going about the business of living these days. But I carry something deeper than the voice—it’s the light in her smiling eyes, the soul-spirit that was so visible, so real, so infectious. The loss is sharply painful. The gift she gave will be unwrapped in the years ahead.