I’ll See You Again, Alice!
Through the course of her life, Alice touched the lives of the many people she came into contact with. What do we do now that she’s gone?
On Feb. 29, 2012, Alice died. Many people did not know Alice. If you went to Vinton County High School in the last 30 or 40 years, however, you would know her very well. In a world of 7 billion people, there was only one Alice.
For more than 40 years she was the secretary at the high school. At the high school, it was said that Alice ran the school; the principal just took care of the public stuff. After four years at the high school, I have become convinced that there was a lot of truth in that statement. Few people, if any, have impacted our small little county like Alice has.
A portrait of Alice
It is beyond my capability to fully portray Alice as she really was. She wasn’t intimidating to look at—just a little over five feet tall and skinny as a rail. Yet Alice ran the school and had more stamina than some of the high schoolers she loyally served for most of her adult life.
I first met Alice my freshman year and quickly grew to admire her the same way the rest of the school did. I had gone to the office (no, it was not because of discipline issues). I didn’t know her or the school well at the time, so I called her “Ms. Taylor.” I gave her a few papers and explained what I was there for. She just wrote something down and handed the papers back to me, saying, “Here you go, hon. By the way, the name’s Alice.”
That was Alice. As her health steadily worsened, she fought as hard as she could to keep her job. After a visit to the hospital, she would still show up for work, saying that she could do her job. She couldn’t even walk without assistance, but she would show up and try to do the job she had done for so many years.
The last time I saw her, one of the custodians was taking her down the hallway in a wheelchair. That was Alice.
The day she died a friend of mine told my class that Alice had informed him during our freshmen year, “I’m going to be working here until they pull my cold body from this chair!” That was basically what happened.
The next time I see Alice
When we heard about Alice’s death, I didn’t know what to say. I don’t think anybody else did either. I think my teacher said it best: “Everything else just doesn’t seem important right now.”
Soon, we were all looking back on experiences we had with her and laughing at the memories. No one mentioned any of her failings, probably because I think she convinced us that she didn’t have any.
After the death of a dearly loved friend and helper and amid the pain of those around you, what can you do? What can comfort us and help ease the pain?
God has revealed an awesome truth that helped to ease my hurt and put Alice’s death in a more bearable light. I don’t see her in the pain that she had in the end. But I don’t picture her in heaven bossing everyone around either, as one of my friends speculated. I know that she is dead and buried.
Now, that doesn’t sound very encouraging, and I will admit that by itself it isn’t. However, I don’t see her burial as the end. There will come a time when Alice will be resurrected and won’t have the pain she knew in the end. She will be among many of the people she knew who died before her.
Finally, she will see a world much different from the world that we live in—the only world that she knew. She will see a world that will actually have peace. She will see a world where the high school students she loved so much don’t kill themselves in foolish wrecks or ruin their lives with bad choices.
This is the world that the Bible describes in Revelation 20-22 and Isaiah 11. This is the world where God will wipe away every tear and death will no longer be a threat (Revelation 21:4).
I hope that I will be there to help her understand what has taken place. I plan to be there to help her grasp the perfect plan God is working out and to teach her how God expects us to live. In this way, I hope to finally be able to repay her for the many ways that she has helped me and countless other students before me (Isaiah 30:20-21; Revelation 5:10).
That is how I now see Alice. She may not be behind her desk like she was for so many years, but she is still in the hearts of many. I have her example of humility, service and dedication to guide me now; and I have God’s truth to show me how to live.
I will miss Alice, yet I know what will happen to her. She will rise again and see a world much better than the one she left. I know, without a doubt, that I will see Alice again!
For more on the future hope revealed in the Bible, see our article on the “Resurrections.”