Cathy and Shirley


I was drinking some late night decaf served up in the cup pictured here when a message from a friend arrived on Facebook.  Two friends had recently passed away. I was so sorry to hear this news, two ladies who made special contributions to my life.

The coffee cup was given to me by Cathy Garrison. She picked it up at a Starbucks on some trip several years ago. I think about her every time I use it. It was striking to me that I was drinking out of it when I heard she was no longer with us. I met Cathy after Hurricane Katrina. Some thoughtful group of people had come to minister to the victims. They asked for the name of someone who was sick. We sent them to one house, but no one was home. So they went to a nearby house and met Cathy and Bud. Cathy was a cancer survivor who was not feeling her best, but her spirits were lifted when they gave her a home made quilt. It wasn’t long before Cathy was at our church building asking what kind of people brought quilts to strangers … and that was the beginning of a long and wonderful friendship. Cathy gave herself to the relief effort even though her home was heavily damaged. Eventually Bud and Cathy both were baptized in to Christ. Beautiful people. She was quite a Facebook encourager, often posting hilarious pictures and sweet encouragements to others. Also very private … and I never knew she was sick. Cathy could identify with us because she lost a son, too.

Shirley Willard was a Realtor that worked for several years to sell our home in Pascagoula. She was never able to do so … truthfully the housing market bottomed out all across the country during that time and in post-Katrina Pascagoula there were lots of homes cheaper than ours. Shirley was our Realtor because she was an aunt of our next door neighbor friend, Roger. Although she was an award-winning Realtor, that’s not why I remember her. She was a woman of prayer … praying with us about the house. But it was on that day when our lives changed forever … when John Robert died … that she came (along with many others) to our house. I don’t remember a lot about that day but I do remember that when Shirley gave me a hug she whispered a prayer into my ear … asking the Father to send his greatest comfort and presence. No, I don’t remember the words, just the gist.

Two women who had their own losses … a son … a husband. Both were women of God who loved the Lord. Both were survivors and used their experiences to encourage other. They both blessed my life. Shirley died early Christmas morning, and Cathy died the next day.

In the presence of God they are no longer in pain, but their absence stings. Prayers for both families continue. Thanks for reading my reflections on the loss of these two special friends. JD

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