Three years ago yesterday (yesterday in Cameroon at
least), Anita died after a short and painful struggle with lung
On the bus ride from Yaoundé to Bamenda, I listened
to the audiobook of Lynne Twist’s "Unleashing the Soul of Money." Near the end,
she guided listeners through a few exercises, one of which was to list 10-20
"gifts and blessings at the core of your happiness and joy." The very first
thing that came to me was to have known and loved and been in relationship with
Anita for 17 years. At the end of the exercise I looked back and thought, "oh
that’s odd, maybe I did this wrong, ’cause that’s something in the past, not the
present." But then I realized that, for me, it is still true. The thing I am
most proud of in my life, the gift and blessing that continues to bring me
happiness and joy, is my relationship with Anita. Not that I think I did such a
stellar job or anything. The only great thing I did was to recognize the gift
that God was giving me and dive into it totally, fully, completely, for better
It was such an immense privilege and blessing to know
this woman dearly and intimately. She grew younger and lighter and more playful
and more full of her spirit with every passing year. Her integrity and passion
were a tremendous gift to the planet and to everyone who knew her and worked
with her. She made a difference wherever she was. She was smart, both
intellectually and in a common-sense sort of way. She loved beauty and was
fully expressed when she was creating it — particularly when she was
co-creating with and for others. She was very grounded, rooted in the earth, and
her second career as a garden designer and gardener allowed her to be grounded
and creative and practical and beautiful and play in the dirt!
And I got to love her and care for her and live with
her and work with her and create with her for almost 17 years. For that I am
more grateful than for anything else in my life so far.
Her death was the most painful thing I have ever
experienced and, yet, I am immensely grateful for that also. It strengthened my
faith in ways I never would have expected. I learned so much about myself, life,
death, love, and God. And I think the grieving process I went through was, in
the end, deeply healing for me on many levels.
So on the anniversary of her death, I honor Anita G.
Barfield — passionate advocate for social change, loyal friend, loving wife,
cool mother, inspired artist, faithful servant and so much more.