Remembering Maris Lee, One Year Later

Al and Maris, partying it up.

Al and Maris, partying it up.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of a very special family member’s passing. I still remember clearly my mother’s phone call to break the bad and unexpected news. When I heard the phone ring and saw who was calling in the wee hours of the morning, I knew it had to be awful. I just never thought it would be about Maris, who hadn’t even been sick; I’d just visited with her less than two months prior and she was her usual sparkly, put-together and upbeat self.

But weeks prior to receiving the news from my mom that “Maris was dying”, some minor health issues which had been left untreated combined to wreak havoc on her internal organs. By the time she’d finally agreed to go to the hospital, it was already too late; Maris was in progressive organ failure.

My mother’s first call warning me that the end was near for her was following by another about two hours later, informing me that Maris had passed away. A bright light in our lives had gone out.

And last year’s Christmas gatherings involved planning wake and funeral arrangements, comforting each other and supporting my cousin Al, to whom I am eternally grateful for bringing Maris into the family before I was even born. As I wrote last year in my post, Memories of Maris Lee:

Maris kissing Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, 1972.

Maris kissing Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, 1972.

Maris became a member of our family when she married Al (our oldest cousin on my dad’s side) in a ceremony that featured my then 6 year-old brother Paul as ring-bearer. And while the word “cousin” is an accurate descriptor of her relationship to my siblings and me, it is wholly inadequate. Because for us, Maris was a second mom, a big sister and a best friend — all rolled into one beautiful, amazing and radiant package.

The old expression about lighting up a room could have been coined with Maris in mind because the moment she entered a doorway, she electrified the atmosphere with her unbridled exuberance, infectious laughter, remarkable love of life and genuine interest in everyone in attendance. She exuded a special kind of energy, rooted in her deep devotion to her Christian faith, unshakeable belief in the Lord and her dedication to His commands and His people.

And that’s where we all take comfort: in knowing through faith that Maris is enjoying the blessings of heaven because she was such a good servant of God on earth.

Rest in Peace, Mar. We miss and love you but will always be thankful for the gift of your presence and know that someday, we will see you again. God bless.

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