Friday, October 17, 2008

An angel just showed up on Heaven's doorstep

Last night, someone who was very dear to me lost her fight with cancer(s).  Lynda was a neighbor for many years.  As well, she was part of my church family and a fellow Deacon. Recently, she insisted upon gifting my daughter with a cat-themed nightgown on her 9/11 birthday, despite the fact she was battling progressive cancer and very, very sick. This picture is of Lynda holding Julia at her baptism party so many years ago. I blogged about Lynda when she and I re-connected this past July.  We had a really special, long heart-to-heart conversation.  (It's cut-and-pasted at the bottom of this post).

Most importantly, Lynda was a friend. She was a friend who brought over a casserole (or three) when babies were born.   She was there when Andrew was diagnosed with autism, taking an especially caring role as she had a nephew who also is autistic.  When, in 2006, crisis came into the lives of good friends and my family (she reminded me just a few weeks ago that I still have her green casserole dish).  So intuitive and smart, she remembered how fragile we all seemed during that spring.  She came to the hospital when my kids was born. (Heck, it was Lynda who took me to the BI for a late-term amniocentisis to determine Andrew's lung maturity).  Lynda was "the" wonderful, non-judgmental friend who threw me a lovely baby shower in her backyard when I was pregnant with J.  At my wedding, her then early-elementary aged daughter danced up a storm at the reception.  She was a true "Angel" to my Andrew, diagnosed with autism at age 2 and in need of a 1:1 aide during Sunday School so I could get a brief respite.

Heaven has welcomed an angel, but we have lost a truly, kind, and compassionate person who symbolized grace to me.  Lynda very much wanted my daughter to come back home, and thought what J most needed was to be with her mother more than anything.  Lynda's own mother was steadfast in her love for her daughter and cared for Lynda over the many years she was sick. My heart goes out to her and to Lynda's two kids, 17 and 22.

Heaven's lucky right now.  Those of us here will miss Lynda so very much.  I loved her and didn't get a chance to say good-bye, but had sent a few emails and left a few messages on her voicemail letting her know I was thinking of her in recent weeks. May God bless her and be of comfort to her family. She was an extraordinary person, an Angel to Andrew in particular.   But, man would she be so uncomfortable hearing that word used to describe her.

Rest in peace, my dear friend.


A week ; a friend

Last night, I spoke to a long-time friend, Lynda, who is very sick with cancer.  She helped throw my baby shower.  I told her how sorry I was that I hadn't called sooner knowing that week after week I'd read of her illness in the church's bulletin and week after week, I did not call.  Strangely, she too apologized for the same thing. She said she felt so badly about what was going on with me, she too just couldn't call. She reminded me that one night, she brought over dinner for two families to share. She told me only now that she sensed such a disaster, that one little one was a mess and crying, and that the tensions between the adults seemed palpable. I sheepishly reminded her how much we all appreciated her casserole that night and that I still had the green dish in my cabinet. We ended our conversation with a few tears and promises to stay in better touch.

What happens when you don't nurture the friendships with the people who you care about?  What happens when you nurture them too much?  For many months, my family extended itself, becoming a family plus 4, taking care of the needs of our (then) friends who were in a crisis of which we had never witnessed before.  In reality, it may have provided the support that was needed for them, but it tore my family apart. It absolutely killed whatever vestige of a marriage I had left at that point (tenuous at best). You want to help those who you care about, who have helped you and cared about you. That's human nature and friendship.  Even in the middle of the crisis, I was taking care of 2 extra kids, plus both of their parents. I was lauded by our church and our pastor for it and hated and resented by my husband for it. What a mess.  Lynda helped a lot; others helped.  It wasn't enough; it was too much for everyone.  The village simply wasn't big enough.

Friendship, having seen it go when I wasn't ready for it to leave, is even more special and sacred because of this.  It's the one bond that shouldn't let men or other intricacies come between it. It's an amazing bond between women which I have yet to see replicated by men.

I saw something interesting on the Today Show. The "expert" said that women should not date men who don't have their own friends. The point being that the men need their own support system and it is unhealthy for them to rely on their new female partner for all support. Truer words have never been spoken.  Lynda said those words, gently as she said everything, to me over and over again.

Advice is good, healing necessary, but there is a profound sense of loss which tears at my heart and soul.  This loss hurt me, it hurt my kids, and their friendships, too. What a strange way for things to play out. And then what a sad, sad way they can just as easily all fall apart.  Thanks to friends like Lynda, any hurdle can be overcome.