Monday, March 15, 2010

Debbi Lang Hampton, My Dear Sister and Friend

Deborah Lang Hampton
March 3, 1952-March 6, 2010

I left the radiologist's office in a fog after my mammogram and breast ultrasound, feeling like I'd just been punched in the gut. It was Friday, March 12, 2010.

My sister-in-law, Debbi, had just been buried on Monday after losing her 15 1/2 year battle with metastatic breast cancer on Saturday, March 6, 2010. My heart was filled with overwhelming grief but also awe for the manner in which Debbi faced her struggles and endured more than most ever could with such amazing grace, despite the length of her illness and all she suffered and lost.

Debbi's focus however, was not so much on her losses due to the ravages of this horrific disease and what it seemed to steal but on all she believed she learned and gained. Her pursuit was in being a blessing, how she might encourage and help others through life's challenges and in living a life that counts. Beyond a doubt, Debbi has left quite a legacy, touching the hearts of all she came in contact with, causing us to face the testing and trials of life, and even death with hope, joy, strength and dignity, helping us see from a different perspective.

Always the optimist, with a quick wit and a will as tough as nails, Debbi embraced life and never sat back just waiting for it to happen; she made it happen and lived everyday. She accepted what was dealt her, sought and found meaning, asking how it was she might be used to fulfill her destiny and to walk beside others to help them shape and fulfill their own.

She reminded me in some ways of her mother, my precious and dearly loved mother-in-law, who never complained, and in fact, even in her worst moments, when asked how she was doing, would usually put a positive spin on things, not wanting to burden others. It wasn't until the last few days of Debbi's life that we even knew she was so near the end.

I met Debbi when her brother, Jeff and I began dating in 1972 and from almost that point on had a special connection and counted her my sister. I treasured the times we had together especially as I got a little older. Though Debbi moved to Tennessee in 1978, we always seemed to pick up where we left off when she visited Baltimore or when we went down there. Our relationship was comfortable and rich as sisters and friends.

We oftentimes shared late into the evening and early morning hours the depths of our hearts, our love for the Lord and absolute trust and dependence upon Him in all things. These were some of my favorite times spent with Debbi and some of the most important and meaningful times in my life that I will never forget and for which I will always be grateful.

I can hear Debbi's pure and beautiful voice still, singing my request of, "Amazing Grace" or "Song of Bernadette", which she dubbed, "our song". She said it always made her think of me; very special, indeed, bringing tears to my eyes today, even as it has each time I've heard it over the years and remembered my friend. Please click the link to listen.

Debbi has left behind the love of her life, husband, Steve, who so lovingly cared for her, often putting his own health at risk for the sake of his beloved. What a friendship and love they shared and such a beautiful picture of marriage they painted; unconditional and never-ending love. May God bless him for all the joy and laughter he brought into her life, his selflessness and all he gave to help see Debbi through. He helped preserve as much normalcy to life as was possible, as they relished all the good times and weathered together every storm with hope, all the while remaining steadfast in their commitment to one another and to family.

To Debbi's daughter, Hollin and all of Debbi's extended family and friends who helped and supported her in ways I may never know, I pray blessing, strength and a special nearness to the living God. May you be held close in His comforting and loving arms, lifted up and filled with all hope and joy in Him as you trust and continue to walk in His most perfect will, remembering sweet Debbi and the gift of God that was given us, if only for a brief moment in time.

In these days of grief, Jeff and I are comforted as we remember Debbi and the life and love we were so privileged to share and in the knowledge that she was surrounded and uplifted by so many who loved her as she departed this life. Though oftentimes separated by so many miles, distance could never separate our hearts nor fade the memories we made, which we hold so near and dear.

I now await the doctor's call to schedule my appointment for a breast biopsy and its outcome, recalling Debbi's courage and faith, all the while leaning confidently in the arms of my heavenly Father, finding solace in Him whose intention for each one of us is only good no matter the picture of our circumstances. My hope is in Him through the Lord Jesus Christ, who loves me and gave Himself for me.

The storms of life, especially of late for Jeff and I have seemed to come in like a flood but our eyes are focused heavenward to our Source and Strength, our life and breath and to the One who is our glory and the lifter of our heads.

Psalm 3 -
Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, "There is no help for him in God." But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone; You have broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongs to the Lord. Your blessing is upon Your people.

Thank you, Debbi, for your friendship, love and for sharing your life with us humbly and honestly and freely giving so much. Not all is learned to the fullest extent during the lifetime of those we have known and loved but echoes within even after their passing. I take pleasure in the knowledge that Debbi's life will continue to speak and teach us some of life's most valuable lessons as we join in the melodies she sang, so sweet to the soul. You will live in my heart forever, my dear sister and friend.To visit Debbi's Blog :

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