We girls have been mourning the loss of our much loved Diann Hunt. Honestly, though I knew it would be hard to lose her, I didn’t know just HOW hard it would be until we were faced with it. This has hit me as hard as the loss of my brother Randy and as badly as the loss of my grandparents. She truly was a sister to me in every way imaginable.
This picture is of us signing the contract for Secretly Smitten and Smitten Book Club (due out in a couple of weeks.)
I thought I would post the eulogy I did at her funeral. There were some differences if you were actually AT her funeral since I ad libbed some. :) But here it is:
Sometimes a soul comes along who shines Jesus’ love so brightly that everyone is drawn into her orbit. The first moment I met her, I knew she was someone very special. She was the sister I never had, and she impacted my life in so many ways—just as she has all of you gathered here to honor her.
Diann would be so embarrassed at all this attention. ☺ She was never one to want to be in the limelight. She’d be hiding a bathroom stall or sitting way back there.
I met Di when I attended a talk given by my editor at Barbour at the time. Di had been taking a writing class and had just gotten her first book contract for a novella. I really liked her, then saw her again a few days later at a Robin Lee Hatcher booksigning. We were standing in line and I heard this laugh. You couldn’t hear her laugh and not want to be with her. I said, “is that MY Diann Hunt?” She turned around and her face lit up (her face could light up like no one else’s) and we gabbed all evening. From that moment on, we were like sisters. It was almost miraculous. I kept telling my other two besties, Denise Hunter and Kristin Billerbeck, they would love her too. When she came to a writers conference with me for the first time and they met her, the four of us were a special unit, each complimenting the whole.
But how could anyone not love her? We were like moths fluttering around her light, drawn by her spirit and her love.
When I think back of the years of our friendship, one memory stands out because it was so prophetic though we didn’t know it. We were at an early ACFW conference and several other authors were gathering in our room to chat. She was talking to Jim on the phone, and her eyes went wide when she saw Robin Lee Hatcher and Francine Rivers. She whispered, “I have to go, Jim. There are famous people in the room.”
How true that was, except that the famous person was Di. God had plans to use her for his great glory. Her books touched many people, and her new Hallmark movie For Better or For Worse will reach even more. But it was her spirit shining through everything she did that touched so many. The hardships of life never dimmed her spirit or her belief in other people and her trust in God. Everyone who met her along her writing journey were stuck by her sweet spirit and contagious laughter. We joked about the Proverbs 31 woman. She strove to follow the example there, but the one thing she didn’t even try for was the whole dignity thing. And we all loved her for the way she loved us and made us laugh.
Thousands of people have watched her journey through this valley and been encouraged to hold fast to faith in spite of whatever circumstances befall. We’ve seen the way she praised God in spite of pain and sickness. We’ve noticed how she pointed to her savior when most of us would have whined and complained about our terrible lot in life. Di has blazed a trail for us, showing us how to face adversity with grace. Her courage sustained us when our hearts quailed at what she was enduring. I’m sure Satan thought he could quell her spirit and her love for God, but he never succeeded.
The book that really launched her was Hot Flashes and Cold Cream because she allowed so much of herself into that book. There’s a quote at the very end of the novel that sums up Di’s philosophy. “I will live this life that God has given me with gusto, not wasting a single moment but using it as He intended. And when my journey here is over, I plan to skid into Glory with a smile on my face, a Bible in one hand, a chocolate truffle in the other, and I will yell at the top of my lungs: ‘Daddy, I’m home.’”
So I will close with Di’s own words about how to live. She posted this recently on Facebook in a week when I knew she was having a real struggle.
Stop! Right where you are. What do you see? Taste? Feel? Smell? Hear? Root yourself in this very moment. Memorize it. Life is made up of these. Don't be so consumed by the past or with the future that you are blinded to your moment. Right now. The one you're given by Almighty God to make a difference. Go out and live for Jesus today, my friends! I mean REALLY live!! You can do it! Start now. Ready. Set. Go!
I don’t know what you intend to do with her challenge, but I’m going to follow her example. Paul said Follow me as I follow Christ. Di would never be so presumptuous as to suggest that, but I’m going to follow the trail she’s laid out. She clutched every day with zeal for Jesus and squeezed more joy out of the mundane than anyone I’ve ever met.
And I’m going to do the same.