I won't even try to describe how wonderful she was as a mother to my friend and his sister. I'll leave it to her family who wrote the extended obituary in the link:
Yes, she will be missed terribly. But as I reflect on her life tonight, I know that she lives on in two important ways:
First, her character lives in everyone that took time to let her into their lives. God has put each of us on earth to make a difference, and each of us will change the lives of those around us, for better or worse. For Karen Elyea, it was so much for the better. Her husband, son, daughter, grandchildren, and yes, friends (like me) are different and better people because we knew her.
Second, she literally will live forever. This is the hope that was brought to fruition by Jesus when he died and rose from the dead. Death is the enemy; don't let anyone try to tell you otherwise. It is not just a peaceful means to pass into eternity. But it is a defeated enemy. When Jesus was resurrected, death lost its power and we no longer need to fear it.
So when we say goodbye to Karen at her service tomorrow, we can and will be sad. But we will also be flooded with hope, the hope that comes because Jesus lives. Not only is she in God's presence now, but one day she will rise like him and participate in the coming together of heaven and earth for eternity. And so will we, if we put our faith in Jesus.
And that makes all the difference.