Friday, May 6, 2011

on life & death and a best friend's legacy..

My heart and mind have been heavy this week as I've considered and prayed and mourned the loss of a sweet girl I only met twice.

Even though I barely knew Mary, I've had the saddest, somehow beautiful, priveledge of walking through this tragedy with her closest friend, Claire...

Mary & Claire, 2006

Claire's words on their friendship and a life-giving, clean water legacy of these two friends:


A Tribute to a Legacy Leaver

What legacy are you going to leave? Several months back I asked that question on this blog, and I hope it was something you honestly wrestled with. Now I would like to share with you the story of the legacy of my dearest friend.

About five years ago, I was living in an apartment in Myrtle Beach. One day I was taking the water dog for a walk, and we met some new neighbors who had moved into the apartment below ours. Darcy thought Piper, their dog, was friendly, and I was impressed that Mary knew immediately who my male dog was named after. A few nights later, I went completely against my character and decided to take a risk on this potential friendship. I walked down to their apartment, knocked on the door, and asked if they'd like to hang out. From that moment on, Mary and I became practically inseparable. We only grew closer after Mary and her family moved to Savannah and then Alabama. I have had many great friends during my life but Mary was an especially precious gift. I can't remember a single fight we ever had. She always accepted me for who I am. She never hurt me. She taught me so much and helped me become more like who God wants me to be. And, I have never laughed as hard or been as happy as I was in her presence. Plus, I got her amazing and big hearted husband, Corey, and Darcy got his two best friends in the world, Piper and Bogie.

If you've followed this blog at all, you know Mary's name. Mary was the one sitting next to me at Catalyst when I heard God tell me to raise money for a well, fast for a month, and write this blog. When I turned to her and told her this, she immediately told me she believed in me and how could she help. I'd like to say that I would have gone forward with this project even if she had not been supportive but I know that would be a lie.

Mary didn't just support me in this project; she actively worked for its success. Every client she saw at her salon during those three months heard about the water project and the water situation in our world. She wore the charity:water bracelet every day and told whoever noticed it what it meant. She celebrated with me when donations were coming in, and she cried with me when they weren't. She encouraged me when people weren't supportive and questioned what I was doing. She listened to rough drafts of blog posts over the phone, and she let me talk out ideas I had with her. At the end of the campaign when it didn't look like the money was going to come in, she supported me in my big leap of faith and reminded me that she believed in me and in this project. My joy was her joy, my anger her anger, my tears her tears, and in the end, any success I can claim was also hers. I can honestly and without a doubt say that I could not have done what I did without her.

This past Sunday Mary was killed by a drunk driver at the age of 28. In one worlds destroying moment, Corey lost his beloved wife, a family lost their precious daughter, and I lost the Jonathan to my David. The last few days have been ones of deep pain and heart crushing brokenness.

I thought it only fitting that the well Mary worked so hard with me to build be built in her honor. So, yesterday I called charity:water and asked if this would be possible. And now, when our well is finished, there will be a plaque on it that reads "In Honor of Mary Whitfield."

Someday children will dance in the water of that well, the same children who are healthy and in school because of that clean water. Women will be safe from the dangers of walking miles to and from clean water sources. And, the economic situation of a community has the increased potential of improving because of access to clean water. I can think of no better tribute to one of the best people I ever known and one of the most precious people to my heart.

I won't see Mary again until she greets me at Heaven's gates but I find joy amidst all this pain in knowing that her legacy is continuing and the world is just that much better because of her. I see her smiling, joyful face in my mind and know that if I do nothing else in my life, I have done something to honor the best and truest friend I have ever had.

If you would like to contribute to Mary's growing legacy, please consider donating to charity:water at or an anti-drunk driving organization of your choice.

(You can view Claire's original post here.)

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