Wednesday, March 12, 2014

For Sheri

Today I said goodbye to a friend I have known for less than 2 years. I didn't get the courage to say this at her funeral today, so I'll say it here, on a piece of 'paper' where I can delete my mistakes, my stammerings and the look of horror on my face when I am in front of people.

I am not a good friend of Sheri's, but our daughters are good friends.  We know each other because of them.  We knew our families were both Christian.  We knew each other because we both had cancer.

When I learned about her diagnosis about a year ago I was devastated.  Not for me, please understand.  For her family, for her daughter Haylee that I just adore.  Because cancer has been a way of life for the last 6 years of my life I have a tendency to get in contact with people I know who are newly diagnosed.  It's just part of what I do.  Sheri and I texted.  I learned the name of her rare lung cancer, knew its stage, and knew it wasn't good.  About a month later we saw each other at the Newsboys concert.  I gave her a hug and we chatted a bit.  She said something extraordinary that day.  It never left my brain (amazing as that sounds, it's true)  She said she is believing her body is healed already and that whatever she has to do for treatment is just insurance.  She believed she was healed.  She was right.

I learned so much about her this week.  I think her favorite color was pink.  She liked M&Ms and Hersheys.  She loved vacations.  She adored her family.  She has the best adoption story ever.  She was scared.  She loved.  She was loved.  Her husband is incredibly strong in his faith, as are her children.

The funeral was a celebration.  It was upbeat.  Everyone knows where she is and how whole she is.  Everyone knew of her faith.  Distraught was not the emotion of the day.  While sadness and heaviness were present, no one seemed to have lost their heart to complete brokenness.

But that is not what I was going to say.  I was going to say that Sheri is an Esther. She was ready for such a time as this.  She wasn't afraid of facing what may kill her because she knew that her God would be there for her, no matter what His will was.  I was going to say that she knew and accepted that healing may come in life after death.  Remember how long it took for me to get thru that?  I'm not entirely sure I am completely thru it but at least I understand it better.  It's a wonder why that ending is regarded as the worst, when the reality is that it is the best; for all of us. Why do I spend time scared of Heaven?  Ridiculous.  Of course it isn't really being scared of Heaven, it's being scared of leaving family and friends.  It's being scared of their grief and missing the future you've always dreamed of having with them.

During the funeral I had thoughts about what I didn't know about Sheri and how we weren't really friends, but shared life when we needed or wanted to.  I wasn't feeling guilt about that and I think that was because I did what she wanted.  She had a great friend and church and family base and wasn't in need of more support like that.  But we understood that we both had a small part in each others lives, if only to love each others daughters, and occasionally complain to and encourage each other.  I kid you not, during the talk the pastor said there were some gifts people could give to Sheri now, and one of them was to let go of 'shoulda, woulda, coulda' and just be.  I don't know how freeing that was for some people but I know it had to be freeing for some.  Regrets are haunting.  Regrets about someone who has died must be absolutely horrifying.  I can hear myself saying to people 'I wish I coulda….' and I've heard so many others say the same.  If you have one of those moments, then do it!  Just freaking do it.  I think that will be one of my new goals; to move, do, go when those feelings come to me.  I understand that there are times in life when we can't do- especially in mine and we need to give ourselves a break at those times. When we have no excuses, when our heart says do, pay attention to that prompting of the Holy Spirit.  Maybe the regrets are because we didn't listen to our God.

Today I learned that Sheri and I had a lot in common, an awesome family, friend and church base that are supportive and loving in so many ways, and an intense love of pink and chocolate.  I think we coulda, woulda, shoulda been better friends, but I have no guilt because she was so loved.

And so am I.  Thank you so very much loving well.