My high school coach, Rennaye O’Hair, went to Heaven on February 18, 2015. My heart is heavy, but it really shouldn’t be. She was a strong Christian. She gets to be pain free, cancer free, and death free. She gets to live eternally where the Lord has prepared her a place.
I first met her when I was 12 years old and in 7th grade at Travis Jr. High. She was my art teacher. At twelve, I knew she was a special lady. I learned that more every day once I got into high school (Palo Duro High). She was my physical education teacher and coached me for three years in soccer.
I am finding it difficult to type this up. My throat tightens with sadness, and I’m afraid to swallow because I’ll cry. Again. More.
Coach and I had our moments. She was always on my side when appropriate, and she was always not when I wasn’t appropriate. It took me a very long time to understand that she was trying to build me up into a responsible, functioning adult. I’m grateful for that, now. She was for all of her “kids,” and all of her “kids” were for her. Some of my fondest memories of Coach were spending time with her after school doing Jane Fonda workouts. She would have everyone there rolling with laughter. I spent many days with her during the summer as she worked at school gyms. We would sit and talk, crack open sunflower seeds, do word puzzles, quizzes, and games together, and she would encourage me as I would workout on exercise equipment.
I would see her every now and then once I graduated from high school. That would make my day. More recently, I had seen her at Lowe’s working. She had retired from teaching many years ago. She was her upbeat, joke-making self. It did my heart good to see her and briefly chat. Most recently, I was made aware that this strong, vibrant woman was lying in hospice due to a vicious, unrelenting monster with sharpened fangs and claws. Stage-four cancer.
Some friends and I went to visit her together. She had fallen asleep but woke up while we were there. My friends and I cried as coach spoke to us. She was positive about her prognosis. She KNEW God would heal her. I didn’t have that same faith. We talked to her a little. I related a message from another friend who couldn’t make it to her bedside. I told her that my friend said, “Tell her I love her.” She faintly spoke that she loved her, too. We held hands, and she told me that she loved me, too. ……… Through tears, I told her, “I love you, too.” My friends and I left, each of us kissing her forehead as we walked out.
I visited her solo several days later. She hugged me multiple times. I got to meet her son and his very sweet girlfriend. That would be the last time I saw her and spoke to her face-to-face.
I was able to tell her some things through a Facebook message a couple of days before she passed. Things I believed I needed her to know before she passed. So, three days ago, I received a text telling me the inevitable, heartbreaking news. I cried and cried. Then, I cried some more. She was right about God healing her. She is completely healed. I cannot imagine the celebration as she entered Heaven.
I am so grateful I was blessed with those last conversations with her. Those last hugs. I will see her, again. Until then, the selfish part of me will mourn her departure from this earth. The knowing Christian part of me will continue to smile because I know the truth. And The Truth. I’m so grateful that we all have that opportunity to have eternal life. I hope that those I love will open their hearts and accept Christ as their Savior. I just want to bug all of you in Heaven when it is time. 😉
So, Coach, I will attend your funeral today to celebrate your life. It’s been one of my greatest blessings knowing you. Thank you for growing me up. Thank you for the proverbial swift kicks to the butt when I needed them. Thank you for the laughter and hugs when I needed them, too.
See ya later.
P.S. Save me some sunflower seeds.