During my time at Hopaco, I had the opportunity to meet some amazing and wonderful people. One of these was a girl from accounting named Jamie.
Jamie moved to America, and specifically Hawaii, when she was still a young girl. Her accent betrayed foreign roots, but her heart and spirt were 100% aloha. She attended Iolani and graduated from the University of Hawaii. I remember Jamie telling me about having to clean the cafeteria during her free period as a way to partially "payback" her scholarship. Some other students would taunt them about their "low income" status. Because Jamie was very naive and innocent, she couldn't quite understand why she was being teased.
Even as a well educated adult, there was something "child like" about Jamie's outlook. I never heard her say anything negative or get angry and upset. There was a sadness to her too, as she was unhappily married at the time. Her ex-husband worked long hours and Jamie was often home alone and lonely.
A few months before I left Hopaco, Jamie had gone though some major life changes, including a divorce and finding someone who truly brought a smile to her face. Kelly was a fellow associate at Hopaco and a really good guy. Their love for each other was evident and I felt happy for the both of them.
At my wedding, Jamie let me know that her and Kelly would be tying the knot. She asked if I would be willing to photograph the wedding (I told her of course).
Little less than a year had passed when I got a call from a former co-worker who told me that Jamie was in the hospital. She had been diagnosed with cancer. After the surgery to partially remove her stomach, I visited Jamie in her room. She was in good spirits, and looked forward to planning her wedding. Even though she was in pain and discomfort, Jamie's smile lit up the place like a lighthouse on a dark, rainy night.
I remember coming home after the visit and telling Sue the good news. Based on her experiences in the medical field, my wife told me not to be overly optimistic about Jamie full recovery from this terrible disease. Because of her age (late 20's), Sue felt that the cancer must have been overly aggressive and recurrence was a strong possibility.
A month later, I was notified that Jamie was back in medical care. I immediately went to the hospital, but this visit was vastly different from the first one. Her eyes were glazed, the skin very pale, and she barely recognized me. I saw that same look on my grandmother a few years back when she was in the last stages of cancer. It was the look of death. My dear friend whispered something to the nurse, who told me Jamie wanted me to leave.
Sometime the following week, in the early morning hours, between sleep and semi-consciousness, I saw a figure standing at the foot of my bed. It told me that Jamie had passed away. I felt an incredible sadness, until the ringing of my cell phone jarred me awake. Picking up the phone, I felt a sigh of relief as the caller ID showed Jamie's name. I answered...quickly blurting out her name. There was a short silence, and a male's voice answered. It was Kelly. He wanted to let me know that Jamie had passed away this morning. He knew we were good friends and had wanted to let me know. I was stunned, but managed to thank him for his kindness and consideration.
I hung up and thought about my friend, who was taken from this world at such a young age. I'm a terrible witness for Christ, but Jamie was one of the few that I could approach openly about my faith. She was on the bench about whether or not she believed in God. I invited her to church on several occasions, but was never taken up on the offer. Jamie told me that she did give God a try at one time, praying to Him, but eventually giving up. I asked her why and she told me she asked for certain things (a home, a car, a happy marriage), but the prayers were never answered. I smiled and replied, "No, is an answer too".
I often wonder who or what that figure was that warned me about Jamie's death. I believe it was an angel, but can't be 100% certain. I do know the timing between the cryptic message and the phone call was too close for it to be a coincidence.
Down the road, I've lost loved ones and good friends. Those losses, of course, were tough to take and they cross my mind every now and then. But Jamie's death has stayed with me heavily throughout the years. Partly because she was so young, partly because of her innocent and sweet spirit. I often wonder if I did enough to help open the door to a relationship with Christ. And I guess I won't know until the final end. As a Christian, I've been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, but it's no exaggeration when I say that Jamie rang rings around me in terms of being a kind, decent and honorable person.
I'm not sure what possessed me to write this eulogy to my friend, other than to say that I miss Jamie and hope I'll be able to see that smile again one day...