Hello dear friends,
I have decided to share with you a few of the details and special moments about my close friend Eileen Huffman, because so many of you have called and e-mailed me with concern for her family, wondering how the funeral services were, etc.
Feel free to pass this along to anyone in the Mary Kay family, or outside of it, if you believe someone would like to read this message.
If you care to read Eileen’s caringbridge website to understand more fully the journey she and her family have been on, the website address is www.caringbridge.org/visit/eileenhuffman. I believe that it will remain up for a few more days.
WHERE DO I BEGIN, and HOW do I begin sharing about the last days and hours of this magnificent woman? Those of you who know her will identify with my struggle to adequately convey the life and impact that Eileen has had upon the world.
I was blessed to meet Eileen thirteen years ago at our neighborhood swimming pool. I was with my husband Jeff and our young sons, and Eileen and her husband Scott were there with their then two year old daughter Courtney. Eileen was seven months pregnant with their second child Jessica, and Scott was a professional pole-vaulter preparing for the 1996 Summer Olympics.
I remember asking Jeff, “who does she remind you of?” And we both said almost in unison, “Kathy Helou.” (Kathy is a Senior National Sales Director in our company, a woman of great spiritual stature and influence). Eileen soon became my customer, and within a short time I offered her the Mary Kay business opportunity. Within 24 hours of hearing the business plan she was a Diamond star consultant, and became a Sales Director within the year.
Nearly six years ago her mother passed away from pancreatic cancer; seventeen days later, Eileen was diagnosed with breast cancer. By now she and Scott had little Timothy, their third child.
She had a mastectomy, and the doctors assured her that there was no metastasis and that she was cancer free. For two years she thankfully celebrated life and presumed as we all did, that this was just a “blip” in her life never to re-occur.
A little over two years later she had pain in her abdomen. Tests revealed that the cancer had spread to her liver and her bones. I remember Eileen calling me with the news; those are the kind of moments that are forever etched in one’s mind. I remember her saying over and over, “how I wish it were yesterday, when life seemed so simple and so carefree.”
And so began her journey of chemotherapy, radiation and the long, protracted process with which many of you are so painfully familiar. I will not belabor the description of her journey, but suffice to say that SINCE HER DIAGNOSIS with liver cancer and with nearly NON-STOP therapy since the liver cancer diagnosis, she earned FOUR MARY KAY TOP DIRECTOR TRIPS! As of December 1st she had led her unit to the NUMBER ONE position in the STATE OF KANSAS and was RANKED NUMBER EIGHT in the DIAMOND SEMINAR!
Many of you saw her at Seminar 2009 and would agree with me that she had never looked more radiant, healthy and beautiful. The picture in this e-mail was in fact taken in July.
As some of you know from her caring bridge website, in September her health began to spiral downward, and she passed on to Heaven on December 1st. Scott’s birthday was November 30th.
The services were here in our hometown of Lawrence, Kansas at the church were our families worship together. The visitation was on friday evening and an estimated 600 people attended. We believe there were over 750 in attendance for the actual funeral service the next day.
I need to tell you that Eileen looked ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!! She was carefully tended by three of her closest friends (all Mary Kay consultants) who did her makeup and dressed her in a very pretty casual outfit which she loved and had planned to wear on the Rome trip. I stopped into the mortuary to provide support to these dear women; what a precious experience it was to see them so lovingly tending to her. I shall be forever grateful to Susie, Susan and Gina for this gift! Also her dear friend Barb who provided so much support. My mother said to me later, "Priscilla, I am eighty-three years old and have been to literally hundreds of funerals, and I have NEVER seen anyone SO beautiful in their casket.” Eileen was so glad that she still had her own beautiful hair and was not wearing a wig when she passed away.
Her casket was gorgeous: off-white with gold accents and lovely pink roses.
The service will be available on-line soon, as well as a video montage from photos throughout her life. Scott spoke at the service, and it is definitely worth listening to when it becomes available.
I believe for many of us the most powerful and moving part of the day was the graveside service. Eileen’s body was laid to rest in a private cemetery about five miles from the Huffman home. It is in a meadow surrounded by trees and lovely farmsteads.
She requested to be buried in a way which was unfamiliar to many of the people attending. The church which owns and tends this particular cemetery is the Old Order German Baptist church. Their manner of dress is similar to the Amish, and the way in which they care for their loved ones who have departed is to actually lower the casket into the grave, and cover it with earth until the process is completed.
It was a very beautiful and moving experience to see Scott begin this process along with a few other men, and then gradually there was a line of loved ones, including many Mary Kay consultants, directors and two or three Nationals taking part in this sacred moment. Each one who wanted to participate would take a shovel of earth and cover the coffin. Beautiful hymns were sung throughout the process until Eileen’s body was gently and securely buried. As one of her friends later said, "we just needed to tuck her in."
WOW. Scott and Eileen’s children were naturally present during this beautiful service and received much loving support and comfort from their friends and family. I estimate that around 150 people were present at the graveside service.
And now we are all beginning the process of adjusting to life without our precious friend, sister and comrade.
Please pray for Scott and the children, as well as extended family who are ALL so dear!! Especially for Eileen’s sweet father, who has lost his wife, daughter and is dealing with terminal cancer himself.
I request prayers for her beautiful unit and offspring sales directors (she has four first-line). I am now the steward of Eileen’s well-trained and WELL-LOVED unit of over two hundred active consultants, along with my own unit of a similar size.
Pray that I will be a capable leader of these dear women whom Eileen has placed in my care. I need strength and wisdom, and God’s leading. I know that He will be faithful to help me.
In closing I will share with you all some of Eileen’s last wishes and prayers specifically for her unit: I had a precious hour with Eileen ten days before she died.
One of the statements that she made to me was the following: "I want you all to be OBEDIENT AND FAITHFUL, and WILLING TO GO ON IN the MIDST OF ADVERSITY….." to her unit, she said, "I ASK THAT YOU LOVE ME ENOUGH TO KEEP ON GOING……TO PULL TOGETHER TO BECOME A MILLION DOLLAR MOVEMENT AND A NATIONAL AREA WITH PRISCILLA’S UNIT AND FUTURE AREA…."
In Eileen’s caringbridge website dated January 2009, she writes, " Psalm 34:18: ‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and SAVES those who are crushed in spirit’….she went on to say "THAT can feel like a spiritual HUG for me at many times!"
She tells us “IF your are reading this entry TODAY God has preserved you for ANOTHER DAY to HONOR Him. We are to put our energy into the ‘right’ things and this will Glorify Him. WHOA, does that convict me regularly. Each day He allows me to continue to LIVE, pick up my kiddos from school, see another birthday or milestone, jump on the trampoline, WORK, go to church and Bible study, etc….. I should be honoring Him BACK with what PLEASES Him.”
She goes on to say, ”OHHH, somedays I wish I could have learned these things without all the suffering, fear, anxiety, pain, sadness and disappointments but IT IS WHAT IS IS, and Praise God, I continue to LEARN and GROW…..
"OK,this really is the last thing….WHAT IS IT in life you’ve been afraid to do or try? I am CHALLENGING each of you to not only STICK your face in the sun and claim what a GLORIOUS DAY it is to be ALIVE, but to also DO something you’ve feared, step out on FAITH and the exhilaration you will feel will let you KNOW YOU ARE ALIVE!!!"
Well said, Eileen.
Thank you, friend who is reading this long letter! I pray that it will be an encouragement to you and a challenge to us all to “STICK OUR FACES INTO THE SUN, to avoid UNNECESSARY DRAMA (Eileen’s favorite motto) and BE OBEDIENT, FAITHFUL and THANKFUL!!!
Thank you for your prayers. I also want to thank those of you who have left messages on her Caring Bridge website, provided meals and money for the family, for the UNTOLD NUMBER of those of you who offered support, tears, hugs, prayers for this dear family…….for those of you who came to the services. I know that many of you came from very far distances at significant expense, time and energy. What a BLESSING that was for us all, especially for Scott and his family!
Thank you, dear friend!!
arms around you with love and gratitude,
Priscilla McPheeters, Circle of Excellence Exec. Sen. Cadillac Sales Director