On Monday I got a phone call from a friend with terrible news. Kerri Drees, a beloved Christian radio personality in our community had passed away unexpectedly due to surgery complications. She was only 47 years old.
Kerri was the kind of person you only had to be around for five minutes to know you would never forget her. Her positive bubbly personality was contagious. I can’t count how many mornings I listened to her on the radio and something she said touched my heart, made me laugh, or got me through a tough moment. At her prayer service the evening of her passing, two things were mentioned over and over. Kerri loved people, and Kerri loved Jesus Christ.
The last time I talked to Kerri was at the radio station where she worked. I was there for an interview about Our Crossroads and Kerri wanted to hear all about it. You would of thought she was the one doing my interview. When she talked to people she gave them her full attention, she really made you feel special. I told her some of the unknown details of my story and she listened intently. She told me how proud she was of me and what I was doing with my writing, and with my life. I remember she told me I should get my own radio show someday and her eyes were dancing with excitement. I could tell that she really believed in me.
That really meant a lot to me.
She stayed a little longer, joking and laughing with me and the host of the show. Then she said she had meant to leave two hours before but had got caught up in projects. She put on her coat, told me how proud she was of me again and wished me luck. Then she gave me a huge hug. It wasn’t one of those awkward, half-hearted type of hugs. This was a caring, genuine, straight up bear hug. It made me feel loved.
A few months later, I would sit at her memorial service hearing loved one after loved one talking about how much they were going to miss her hugs. They talked about how much she loved people, especially broken people. They talked about how she loved people with the love of Jesus. One beautiful woman in a wheelchair said: “She never made me feel like I was in a wheelchair. She just saw me.”
Nobody knows why things like this happen. I would be lying if I said I didn’t ask God why He had allowed this to happen to Kerri. She was filled with so much light for the Lord. It seemed she had so much more to do, so many more people to touch, so many more Kerri-hugs to give away.
But we can’t think like that. God has reasons for things that we will never understand in this lifetime. To trust Him, means to trust in His will for things too. For whatever reason, God had decided that Kerri had ran the race well and wanted her to come back home to Him. Somebody said at the prayer service that Kerri wanted to meet Jesus Christ more than anybody else. She had gone to sleep on Monday and woken up in her Savior’s arms.
Imagine the bear hug she gave to Him!
Rest in peace, Kerri. And thank you for the hug.