Yvonne with me, Ann Tatlock, and Deborah Greene Harvey. She’s holding her novel, Hearts that Survive, a fabulous story set on the Titanic.

I’m writing this to try and get it through my head that she’s gone.

The first time I met Yvonne Lehman I was a hopeful writer with a manuscript in my pocket and no clue what I was doing. I volunteered to be a greeter at the Asheville Christian Writers Conference. I was in the lobby at one of the inn’s at The Cove when a petite blonde blew in teetering on high heels. She had all kinds of luggage and it was raining. I took one look at those shoes and offered to park her car for her.

She handed me the keys and just like that, we were friends.

I’ve known her for more than a decade and assumed she had another couple of decades in her. She invited me to join a writer’s group meeting at her house where I got to know others at different stages in the writing journey. When I launched my first novel with a bean supper and square dance she was out there dosey-doeing in her heels. I became one of her ducklings, following in her wake, grateful for the protection of her wings and the path she’d paved.

Fifty-nine books in print. I think we’d better do a recount. Surely there’s one more on her hard drive! She was a ground breaker, a glass ceiling shatterer, and a pushy broad. To know her was to love her. To open your heart to her was to be encouraged and challenged in the very best way. She poured herself into writers and I’m blessed to have been one of them.

She left this world last Friday after 85 years of having an absolutely fabulous time (interspersed with overcoming some really tough times). I’m pretty sure her obituary is the only way I was ever going to learn her age . . .

And now I can’t help but picture her standing at the foot of the throne with sparkly, rhinestone-encrusted high heels peeking out from under her heavenly robes. She’s hugging Jesus and saying, “It’s so good to see you, sugar. Now let me tell you about some writers I know who could use a little encouragement . . .”

Revelation 21:4 – “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”