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Peri “Overcomer” Thomas

periSometimes a friend walks into your life whose love changes you forever.  That friend, for me, is Peri Thomas.

It all started back in September with a knock at my back door.

It’s my new friend and neighbor, Peri.  I motion her in.  Since our kids (and we) have been in and out of each other’s houses all day long since they moved in 4 houses down the street in June, she really didn’t need to knock.

The cherubs are upstairs, engaged in dueling plastic sword battles.  I welcome the skirmishes.  Even 10-year old Clayton, her sweetheart with down syndrome, has asked to come play and lays on the floor happily tapping matchbox cars together.

Peri and I stand by the table, talking of kids and school and church.  Then, she announces the inconceivable:  “I think my cancer is back.”

I can’t see for a moment, like my kitchen is spinning.  “What?  But it was…but we thought…”

“I know.”

“Oh, Peri!”  After fighting ovarian cancer for 3 years, she’s been in remission for just a few months.  I’m awash with sadness and fear and anger and compassion and all I can do is hug her.

And then it’s a whirlwind of oncology appointments and ER visits, emergency surgery and fervent prayers.  She comes home 30 pounds lighter and curls up in her bed.  I sit by her, hold her hand, pray, stroke her hair, feel helpless.

Thankfully, her kids still come in and out of my house, battling my young warriors with undaunted vigor.  I try to keep my kids from disturbing her peace.

One evening, I lie next to her.  “I heard a song today and thought of you.  It’s called, ‘Overcomer,’ by Mandisa.”

She finds it on her computer.  We listen together and weep.  Then she finds the video.  It’s about people fighting cancer.  I had no idea.

“I don’t feel like an overcomer right now,” Peri says.

“I know.  I’m sure you don’t.  But you are one!  I don’t think the song is just about being a physical overcomer, but a spiritual overcomer.  And you are a woman with an unshakable faith in Jesus, Peri.”

She smiles.  “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

And she is.  Toughened by hard life circumstances and softened by the love of Jesus Christ, Peri is a living, breathing example of an overcomer.

As I head out of her room that evening, she sends me off with her characteristic, “I love you!”  It’s funny how that feels right, even after only knowing her for a few months.  And I tell her I love her, too.  Because I do.

The same Man, the Great I am

The one who overcame death

Is living inside of You

So just hold tight, fix your eyes

On the one who holds your life

There’s nothing He can’t do

He’s telling You

You’re an overcomer

Stay in the fight ‘til the final round

You’re not going under

‘Cause God is holding you right now

You might be down for a moment

Feeling like it’s hopeless

That’s when He reminds You

That you’re an overcomer

You’re an overcomer

(To read more about Peri, see her Creative Tribute site at https://creativetribute.net/peri/?page_id=54.  There, you will find a link to her Caring Bridge site and her blog.)

8 thoughts on “Peri “Overcomer” Thomas”

  1. Peri is a long-time dear friend of mine from Memphis. I wanted to spend time today remembering her. I have lived in England for the last 2.5 years and am returning this summer. I have talked to her and kept up with how she is doing. I wanted to see her one more time. Thank you for the beautiful writings about her and her family. The video that you posted with her talking to her friend about the marathon and life let me see her just one more time. Thank you. I can hear her voice saying “I love you!” as I drive away from her house, just like you say in your post. What a special person she was to touch our lives. : ) steph

    1. Steph- I’m glad you found my blog to be able to “see” Peri again! She really was such a special person and it was an honor to get to be a part of the last few months of her life. I only wish I could have known her longer! I guess you have probably read my last post by now about her memorial service. I’m hoping someone taped it so faraway friends like you can hear all the incredible things people said about her generosity, her strength, and her faith. She was a bright light- and now her kids can go on to carry her light.
      Thank you for writing!

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