Today is the birthday of a dear, precious friend of mine.
A few nights ago, I had a dream about her. In my dream, there was someone I didn’t know who was taunting me in my struggle against a memory. This friend was there, and she quickly came to my defense and quietly removed me from the situation. She covered me in a vulnerable moment and lovingly and prayerfully moved me to a safe spot. It was a sweet reminder of this friend and the way that she literally laid her life down to walk with me through my pain in a way that gave me a tremendous amount of dignity.
There is not another person on earth who knows in detail what I have been through, as she was the one friend that I trusted while walking through the most intense years of my healing process.
When I screamed cuss words at God, she never judged me;
She never pushed me when I wasn’t ready for something;
She believed me;
She never pretended to have the answers to the anguished questions of my heart;
She prayed fervently and loved me freely.
And most of all, she was not afraid of my pain because her God was bigger than my nightmare. In this she never wavered.
Today she is gone.
A few years ago I received a call saying she had passed away unexpectedly. Sadly, I could not attend the funeral, for multiple reasons. In retrospect, my reaction to her death was inappropriate. I didn’t grieve – at all. In a life with multiple losses, one learns not to hold on too tightly, while at the same time being absolutely terrified of losing the ones you do dare to hold tightly.
In my head, I thought I should maybe write a letter to her kids to let them know what an amazing impact she had on my life. If I had been able to write that letter, I would have let them know that she had literally saved my life. But I never did it. I just moved on. Even now, as I think about it, there is this vague sense of sorrow that I can’t quite touch. The pain is there somewhere, but it’s inaccessible to me. In a really selfish way, I think I was secretly terrified of being alone in the knowledge of my pain again. The one person on earth who I had really let into my pain is now gone.
My dear sweet, friend – I pray that Jesus will show you how much my life was changed by you. In honor of your birthday today, I will give myself permission to grieve the loss of you. In a world full of hate and horror, you were the light of Christ to me. You brought peace to my storm, and your faith in His ability to deliver and heal me literally saved my life. What you did for me cost you much. I am here today because your God was big enough – and because you refused to count the cost of walking in my nightmare. You were a precious gift to me, and while it seems so inadequate to type these words on a blog, I pray that you know it. One day, I will tell you face to face, and we will rejoice together in a place with no more sorrow.