One day in 1991, my best friend on the planet called me in tears. Her mother–a woman I had known and loved for 19 years–had died at the ridiculously young age of 53. We were only 29 years old! How could this happen to us? My friend, who is truly my soul sister, was devastated. We spoke on the phone for a long time, and when we hung up, I immediately called my own mother.
“Please don’t die, Mom,” I begged. Little did I know that my sweet mom, who had struggled with poor health all my life, would die 20 years later, her frail body finally succumbing to Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, a hateful and relentless foe.
Just last week, we two motherless daughters, now 53 ourselves, were again on the phone. This time I was in tears, as my friend told me she had suffered a heart attack. “You can’t go yet,” I told her. She chuckled and told me that she would go whenever God decided she ought to. Thankfully, it had drizzled just enough in California that day to keep her off the tennis courts. Instead, she’d gone back to her office, where she suddenly felt ill and called the doctor–who told her to immediately get a ride to the hospital.
She was put into ICU where my friend had an angiogram, an EKG, etc. etc…. Thankfully, all is well. She is on a heart monitor and a boatload of medication, and this young, vibrant, healthy beauty was feeling well enough to text me the next day: “I’m going home!!!”
Followed shortly after by: “To my house, not to heaven =)” Did I mention she has a wicked sense of humor? I giggled through my tears.
My friend has been a rock for me since we were eleven years old. She’s seen me through my teenaged pregnancy, a physically abusive relationship, a divorce, a substance abusing child, and the death of my mom. She loves God with a tenacity that inspires me. God wove our lives together in the sixth grade and has created a rich tapestry of events and experiences for over forty years.
And for the first time, it dawned on me that one day that will be over. How do we deal with the end? The end of presence and experience and talk and touch and love?
It is the epitome of triteness to say, hold those you love a little closer. Don’t overlook the little joys and the opportunities to say, “I love you.” Prioritize relationships over rules and responsibilities. Be more intentional in transcending the day to day.
Trite it may be. It is also true. And I while I am praying that neither of us “goes home” any time soon, I am also praying that I might revel in the fact that even when that day arrives, we will be together forever with Christ. We’ve already planned to live on the same cul-de-sac; next door mansions, as it were. And I’m looking at all my loves with new eyes. Praying that God might glow through me–that I might be the genuine light of grace to everyone I meet. I pray for His vision, that I see everyone with His eyes, and that I might invite His spirit into every interaction.
Don’t let me miss an opportunity to love, to show grace, to transcend the earthy nature of this life. Help me see what You see, Lord, the holy beauty in each of Your creatures. Especially at this special time of year, let me be grateful for Your wildly magnificent gifts: the decades-long friendship…the touch of my husband’s lips…the hugs of my children and grandchildren…the smiles of my students..the shining green leaves on my Mom’s magnolia tree….
Let me be grateful for every beat of my heart.