For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— if indeed, when we have taken it off, we will not be found naked.~ 2 Corinthians 5:1-5
If life is a full term pregnancy processing us for birth into the afterlife, then I met Charlene B. Ware during her third trimester. Life is its own master course and we all become the product of our beliefs, choices, and actions while running our own great race.
When I met Charlene, she was nearing the end of several stages. Retirement was approaching, her second marriage was unraveling, and the West would soon be calling. Charlene was transitioning fully into her third trimester of life with all cylinders on change. So, I was blessed to meet a woman in the prime of her life who was embracing the unknown with joyful anticipation. She had been married, had divorced, and raised two children while working full-time.
Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.~ 2 Corinthians 5:6-9
When I make friends, I tend to befriend the whole family on some level. I met Cherre during my college internship twenty-three years ago. Shortly after she introduced me to her Mama, Charlene. I don’t remember a lot of our first conversation details, but I do remember her warmth, welcome, familiarity and a whole bunch of shared laughter. When we met, I was nearing the end of my first trimester of life and was gifted with a bird’s-eye view of Ms. Charlene as she was entering her home stretch.
Being able to witness her fearless, vivacious approach to life has been a beautiful experience. Nearly twenty years ago, Ms. Charlene spread her wings in preparation of exploring freedom – life after work, life after divorce and a technical empty nest, life as a full-time grandma, and life as a pensioned retiree in the Valley of the Sun. I met her when joy came easy, and laughter was free flowing. That’s how I know her. This is how she is remembered.
In the society we are formed in, life offers only three widely accepted stages for women: daughter, wife, mother. Though variations abound, they are rarely respected or appreciated. Women who don’t hit and hold all three marks are seen as lacking. This shortsightedness can prevent us from embracing our true selves and growing into our promise. Fortunately, some brave souls can free their minds and unchain their souls from societal conventions and allow their eternal light to manifest in their mortal lives.
The young woman who left home chose to hold on to close relationships throughout her life. Ms. Charlene’s sense of personal liberation allowed her to choose love and marriage again yet still not be broken by its heavy yoke. The self-knowledge and awareness needed to live her best life guided her. Not only did she decide to live in a completely different environment from her first and second trimesters, her secret to thriving as a transplant in the desert was being within close proximity of the true loves of her life, Napoleon and Cherre.
Love and relationship are the ties that bind all the stages of Charlene’s life together. You don’t get to live such a vibrantly full life without committing wholeheartedly to your choices and their harvests. This willingness to embrace life, come what may, made room for the people she met along way – friends who were embraced like family, neighbors who were embraced as friends, and of course the family she loved as extensions of herself.
She departed how she lived: surrounded and embraced by the love of her children.
If we truly believe that what we bind on earth will bind us in heaven then Charlene B Ware prepared her whole life for her life beyond (Matthew 18:18). May she rest well in the embrace of her Creator.
For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.~ 2 Corinthians 5:14-15