It’s been almost a week since I have written or read anything. I can’t think right now. Yes, I am working a new job, ten hours a day and obviously have to “think” during those hours but the truth is, I am on auto-pilot while there. Everything looks fine on the outside, but on the inside, I am numb, silent, frozen.
Thirty-three years ago, I was barely twenty years old, married for two years and pregnant with our first child. Two months before Matthew was born, Bob and I moved four hours north of our family, to a very small beach town where my mother was born and raised. All my maternal family was still there so it was really like going home for me. One we settled in, I realized that although I had tons of aunts, uncles and cousins, I had left all my friends when I moved. I began to wonder how I would ever meet people my age in such a small town when I could barely walk with my huge baby belly. I didn’t have to wonder for long.
Just days after moving into one of my cousins rent houses, a darling wood cottage painted red with a killer view of the ocean, there was a knock on the front door. I waddled my way over to answer the rapping and was pleasantly surprised by the blonde woman on the other side. Elsa was just a few years older than I was and lived across the street. She came over to introduce herself and to bring homemade treats. We spent about an hour talking and then walked across the road to her home where she fed me lunch and fed my soul with friendship. I will never forget her for that.
The next day my cousin dropped me off at home after taking me to my doctors appointment. As I walked up to the door, there was a jar of homemade blackberry jam sitting on the front doorstep. I picked it up and went into the house smiling, assuming it was from Elsa. It wasn’t but an hour later that Lori knocked on my door. She introduced herself as a friend of Elsa’s and asked if I had found the jam she had left. I quickly invited her. She had her two year old boy with her and we spent a wonderful afternoon visiting and getting to know one another. Meeting Lori that day changed my life forever.
For the last thirty-three years, Mike and Lori have been more than our friends. They are our family. We have been through births and deaths, parties and partings, girls nights and boys weekends, couples vacations and times of pure vacancy. When we moved to Oklahoma sixteen years ago, one of the most difficult things for me was leaving Lori. She is my sister, my kindred spirit, the person most like me in every way imaginable. I love her and her husband Mike, beyond words. When I think of Lori, I think of laughing until we are crying and crying until we are laughing. That last sentence really sums up our relationship perfectly.
This week, Lori sent me an email. I won’t go into it all because it is deeply personal. I will only share this one line:
“…..he only has months to live.”
Of course, I immediately called and spoke to Mike for a minute and then Lori for much longer. I wanted to be encouraging, to laugh with her, to tell her things that would bring her comfort. I couldn’t so instead we cried together. A lot. I am still crying. Bob has had to wake me up from crying in my sleep as I dream of Lori and Mike. I cried all through worship at church last night. I have cried in the bathroom at work and on my way home. When I am crying, I am also pleading with God for an answer, a miracle, for peace and comfort for Mike. I am pleading for the same and more for Lori and their family. I am also asking Him to teach me what it means to be a friend in the face of such incredible pain for the people I love.
Only months, possibly weeks to live. I can’t understand this. My heart won’t allow me to. I want to go home. I want to live in that little red beach cottage and find blackberry jam on my stoop. I want to stay up all night laughing with Lori and the other girls in our group while the guys are off backpacking with all the kids. I want a do-over. I want more time.