Monday, June 9, 2014

June is a favorite month for me.  Leads back even to my childhood.  Not certain why, but I would guess it is because it is my birthday month, and perhaps the start of summer and no school.  I actually liked the kids being off school but I am getting distracted.  My last entry was June 7,2013.  Here I am on June 9, 2014.  I must have some sort of creative clock that brings me to this much ignored blog.  I love writing actually---I just have had some tough stuff to write about and so I have not  been here..

I have had the privilege of being with a friend who was dying of cancer.  . I don't use the word "privilege" loosely---it truly is just that.  Almost a test as to what are your beliefs...and delighted that we could have long conversations about her passing to the eternal reward we talk about.  The one where "...all our tears will be washed away and turned to laughter" Is. 49---loosely paraphrased.  Strangely this friend had been out of my life for some time.  I would run into her at various places where art people hang out and always a promise of "we should get together" and both of us back to our busy lives.  I was on 'rqcone day and noted her posting regarding her first chemo therapy.  My heart sunk and I recalled I did not "get together."  It was almost embarrassing to ask her (via a private message) on Facebook what was going on.. She told me that she had been ill with a persistent cough (who had NOT been ill with a cough this past winter) and after a couple of rounds of an antibiotics without results,  the Dr. ran some more tests and found the dreaded cancer cells in the part of her lung that was left from an earlier surgery to remove most of that lung. She sounded very optimistic and was following the Dr. and other health field team assigned to her care.  I asked if I could come and see her and if she felt up to it, we could do some art.  She was delighted and we set a date.  I began to learn when she would feel up to doing some art...depending on where she was in her "chemo treatment".  She would be so ill following the chemo for about 15 days---till the poison worked out of her system---and it was nearly time for the next one.  The days got so crazy and I found myself  completely on her schedule.  I would not trade any of the time we spent together doing watercolor mostly, as that was her first love.  She took to it---like so many talented things she did and I believe with all my heart that God allowed her some extra days to just enjoy friends and family.  This was after she had made her mind up to discontinue all treatment.  The Dr. was quite certain they were getting no positive results from their course of treatment and agreed with the decision.  The difficulty was with her husband and him not wanting her to give up trying so God could provide a healing.  She had some difficult days---I am certain there were times, especially at night, when the fear of the unknown would sneak in and give her doubts.  Her faith was strong and she surrounded herself with Christian friends from her very small but active church. It was not an easy death---each day she was weaker and less able to breathe.  She faced each day with a smile and a determination to make pretty things.  Her birthday was coming and didn't we know that was to be a CELEBRATION.  And it was!  She had her hair done and a beautiful dress and make up and some sort of blinking light that announced to the world it was her birthday.  She sat on her couch and held court.  It was as if each of us knew that she wanted us to come to her so she could speak words to comfort us.  We shared a meal and spoke about all we had seen and grown from this experience with her . We each knew in our hearts that the time was drawing closer.  She had a particular glow about her that day that each of us carry in our memory bank of how beautiful the day was and the honored guest was enjoying every second.  Her weakened body cooperated and she was able to celebrate for most of the afternoon.  As we departed that day we knew something wonderful was going to happen.  For me, that was the day I knew she was ready to meet the God she loved and served most of her life.  There was no doubt that there was a place prepared for her.

I received the phone call when she had passed out of this life. We knew it was coming and yet we felt the most unexplained emptiness in the house and in our hearts. We shed tears and we said our goodbyes several times when we had been with her---but the memorial service was a beautiful reminder that the world would be a little sadder and empty with out her and her many gifts.  It was a joy to hear different sharing and stories and I realized like each of us---she was different things to different people.  However, she had that rare gift of making a person feel as thought they were the most important in her life.I am reminded of her in so many ways and I listen to her voice in my mind of some deep conversations and some rather silly ones where she would throw her head back and laugh the most beautiful laugh.  I give thanks for what she was in my life and  I pray for her family too.  With faith we all know that she is with the father she served and we know we will see her again---but in the early hours of a sleepless night or the sound of a song she loved or a certain smell of a strong coffee, she feels close and I know I have heard her voice telling me it is so beautiful---this place called heaven and to watch out for her daughter who she knew would struggle...and so she is present to me.. Rest in peace my friend until we meet again...

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