Sometimes, it's hard to find the right words for what you're feeling. This is my feeble attempt.
In the early hours of this morning, Krista Ralston Oakes passed away. She has suffered for the past five years with a brain tumor. Her initial prognosis was not good and it's a miracle (and a testament to her fighting nature) that she lived as long as she did. She was taken to the hospital this morning because she was having trouble breathing and doctors found blood clots in both her lungs. She leaves behind her husband of 22 years, Jared, and their beautiful adopted children Jacob, 9, and Emma, 5.
I didn't know Krista extremely well and we weren't very close, or anything like that. But she and her husband have always been very dear to my heart. My family has known them for 20 years. She and her husband were my primary teachers when I was 7 or 8 and left a lasting impact. The only primary teachers I remember from my youth are the Oakeses and the Powells. Krista and my mother were very, very close and my mom used to give me frequent updates on Krista's condition. And while Krista and I didn't speak often, our trips home to visit loved ones in The Woodlands always seemed to coincide and I loved catching up and seeing how her family has grown.
I don't know that I feel very sad for Krista. In a way, it's more a sense of relief - after so much trial and suffering, Krista is released from her the pains of her body and goes to join our Father in Heaven. But my heart breaks for her loved ones - for Jared and the loss of the love of his life and for her two precious children who have just lost one of the best mothers the world has ever known. And I can't help but feel that all of us - the rest of the world - have suffered a great loss because the shining light of this incredible woman is gone.
A few weeks ago, Krista wrote a blog post reflecting on her diagnosis five years ago. She wrote of how the first thing she did after she got the call was drop to her knees in prayer and she described the immeasurable feeling of peace that came over her. She wrote:
"I was taught long ago that there are counterfeits for everything except the peace that is the hallmark sign of the Holy Ghost. Within the presence of that peace it is impossible for fear and doubt to abide. There are many good feelings and emotions, and I've experienced those, too. Feelings of love and relief and joy and hope and wonder, and so on. But when there is spirit-to-spirit communication with the Lord through the Holy Ghost, it is unmistakably and undeniably set apart from these other feelings, and it becomes the only reliable source of confirmed truth. My greatest desire is to live long enough to help my children learn to access and recognize this for themselves."
Krista will be deeply, deeply missed. The world was a better place because she was in it and a little darker today as her light leaves us.
*Note: Krista was also an accomplished and magnificent writer, sharing her trials and experiences and lessons learned for the benefit of others. You can read more of her words at these places:
An article she wrote last week (about the meaning of Christmas - so amazing).
Her book, Fertile in our Faith, about her struggle with infertility