Today I went to visit my dear friend. Her husband met me at the door, his eyes filling with tears. Though he tried to keep them in some managed to flow down his face anyway. He told me he thought his wife was not going to make it to Christmas. I had no words. He said she was just lying in bed all the time now and that she could not walk, would not eat, and that she could barely speak. I could tell he was also trying to prepare me for what I was about to see. No amount of preparation could have ever gotten me ready for what I saw today. My once tough and strong friend now looked so small and weak lying in her bed gasping for breath as she slept.
He woke her and told her I was there, she opened her eyes and looked at me her eyes lighting up for a brief second before she closed them again and went back to sleep. Her husband went to the store for a few groceries and I stayed with her. I am not sure why but for some reason I climbed in her bed and sat in it with her just watching her as she slept. She drifted in and out of consciousness and memories of the two young girls we used to be flowed through my head. Happy memories of us singing, sleepovers, Friday night skating rinks and dancing to Saturday Night Fever songs. As grown women we now always joke about when we are old ladies someday we will be still dancing to Staying Alive. As I watched her take each labored breath I wondered after each one if she would take another, or if maybe that breath was going to be her last. I find it ironic how Staying Alive takes on a whole new meaning today.
After a while she woke up and wanted to sit up, she was so weak she could not raise herself to sit up on her own. I could tell it was really hard for my independent willed friend to allow me to help her sit up. Once she was sitting I looked into her tired beautiful brown eyes and saw the eyes of my friend which were so full of determination and light a few short weeks ago had now grown dim. She looked at me and started speaking each word was an effort for her to speak. She said she had fought for 6 months and that she knew she was not going to make it and then she said that she was not ready to die yet. Her words ripped my heart out, I already knew she was going to die but was not prepared for her to say it to me. When I was faced with her voicing it out loud I was frozen, and had no words of comfort for her. I grasped for something anything but nothing came. I was silent because I didn’t know what to say. All I could do was reach out to her as I tried to hold back the tears that wanted so bad to just let burst forth. I just felt so unprepared for this moment and any words that came to my mouth just seemed so lame. This sort of thing does not come with instructions and I just wanted to be able to fix this, “I need the instructions” went through my mind. I kept silent while prayers were screaming in my head, prayers to God asking for the words but they just never came. All I could manage was just to sit there and hold her and pray with her. She knows Jesus and I know she will be in heaven with him soon and she knows she will be in heaven, yet she isn’t ready to go yet. She wants to stay on earth and see her grandkids grow up. She wants to be here for her kids and her husband. She doesn’t want to leave them yet. She has the most beautiful and perfect new home waiting for her to come move into yet she wants to stay in this home to take care of her family and live the life that she has here. What could I say to that? I am not sure anyone knows what to say to that. I sat with my friend feeling so broken hearted for her until she drifted back off to sleep. I watched her sleep a while longer and then I got up to go. Before I left I kissed her on the cheek and told her goodbye for now. As said goodbye she woke up for just a second and said, “I love you too,” and then she went right back to sleep. As I write this I wonder if that was our last conversation on earth and if next time I see her it will be in heaven. I still keep praying for that miracle that she lives, but could it be that the miracle is that we not live here on earth but that the miracle is that we live forever in heaven?
I pray that when God decides its time for her to come home that she will be at peace and joyfully step into her new life knowing that those she leaves behind will be okay.
I wish I would have had some great words of comfort for my friend today, but no matter how I look at it death from our earthly bodies still just somehow seems sad and there will be a hole in my life when she is gone. I will miss her tremendously when she goes but I really have a feeling she will not miss me. I think she will be pain free and so happy in heaven that she won’t even think about missing her life here and I am thankful for that.