Tuesday, September 13, 2005


The email this morning had "Oregon Breezes" in the From line and my first thought was, "Oh, good, a message from Cynthia!" and then, just as quickly, I thought, "It can’t be from Cynthia; she died yesterday."

It was actually from her son, a brief note informing us of her death.

Yesterday morning, in the shower, I was talking to God about this. "Please, let her live. Please, isn’t there some way?" And that afternoon I heard she was gone.

Cynthia and I first met when we were both 19-year-old teachers at Lake Creek Mennonite School. She came from Estacada, Oregon, up in the mountains, and I came from Minnesota. That year we were thrust together—boarding in the same little house, riding in the same car, even sleeping in the same bed.

We were complete opposites. She was responsible, proper, angular, musical, settled, and scheduled. I was irresponsible, impulsive, plump, unmusical, and silly.

We boarded in Jason and Marilyn Schrock’s little house and ate our suppers with their family. Cynthia made sure she and I did the dishes every night. I persuaded her to try on Marilyn’s maternity clothes and the three of us had hilarious photo sessions.

She could be abrasive and blunt. I could be manipulative and silent. She thought I was too liberal. I thought she was completely close-minded. Like two fourth-graders who are best friends after a fight, we finally aired our grievances and sorted them out, and then we were friends. She was the braver one who made the first move to make peace.

Cynthia had a couple of serious crushes before Jonathan knocked on her door, and then I had the fun of watching their courtship from the sidelines. Jason and Marilyn’s kids and I persecuted them terribly, such as setting alarm clocks and timers under the living room chairs and couches the night they were going to have a nice visit there after church.

By the time she got married, I was dating, and she gave me more practical marriage and honeymoon advice than all the books put together.

We sent each other baby announcements and other updates over the years. We hugged and talked when we met. We were still opposites; we were still friends. A chance blunt phrase of hers could annoy me to distraction. And then she would send me a note like the one I’ve never thrown away: "You’ve made many a day," she wrote. I knew she meant it.

Cancer killed Marilyn Schrock in 1984, and cancer took Cynthia yesterday, so two of our gleesome threesome clowning around in maternity clothes are gone.

If Cynthia has her way, she and I will do dishes together at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Quote of the Day:
"Death is swallowed up in victory."
--I Corinthians 15:54


  1. That was a beautiful tribute, Dorcas. Good friends are a treasure, and so are good memories. May God bless and strengthen you in your grief.

  2. You gave me goosebumps!!Excellent tribute--my mind has gone over all the memories of the past also--its still a little hard for me to comprehend.

  3. Dorcas, your article on Cynthia echoed many of the same memories going through my mind. How well I remember the days of the teachers inhabiting the "shanty." I also think of the enjoyable times with you and Cynthia around our table and in and out of our house. When Marilyn succumbed to cancer, you were both so supportive. It seemed Marilyn was young - 3 days short of 40. Now this seemingly really young mother of 6 days shy of 43 has taken the same journey.
    Marilyn and I enjoyed watching Jonathan and Cynthia's blossoming relationship, and now that is past. Of course we were just as excited when a certain Paul Smucker began to call!
    Time and change waits on no one!
    - Jason Schrock

  4. I have written my own thougths on Cynthias death but I'm afraid they are not so noble as yours. I have so many memories but for some reason I'm too stressed to relive them. I dont know if stressed is the right word. Maybe it's sad or maybe I'm too afraid to really face it yet.

    I chuckle when you mention her blunt ways. As young girls that caused many an arguement between her and I. I too am blunt and two blunt people just knock heads a lot. But she was loved and now sorely missed. I suppsoe I will see you at the funeral. It might be nice to meet you up close nad personal.

  5. Dorcas, I echo my son Paul Y.'s thoughts. The loss of a friend is always hard. Good friends have a way of surpassing time and distance and are a rare treasure that is mined over a considerable span of time.

    May God's comforting Spirit be with Cynthia's family and with you during this time of grief.

  6. Cynthia is gone????? but you only just told me she had cancer and i was doing the walk on sunday and planning to walk and pray for her recovery....... so now instead i will pray that jonathan and his family will somehow make it thru these days of adjustment and change and emptiness of a wonderful sweet family member. i always enjoyed visiting with her and listening to her wisdom and seeeing her very ready smile. i am sure my mom said to her Why Cynthia, what are you doing here? and proceded to show her to someone they both knew.........

  7. my thoughts are with you in the coming weeks. especially having just lost a close friend of my own from younger years recently (ruth anne). such a jolt. anyway, peace to you. jennifer (burkholder) byler

  8. Thank you everyone, you are all so kind.

  9. As a husband who has almost lost my wife to cancer, I know a little of the grief you face. I could say many things but the only one that really matters is this,
    I wish you to feel the open arms of our heavenly Father to hold you tight and cry with you. I also wish you the anticipation of looking forward to the time when you shall see her again as you surely shall since you are both destined for His arms!