Today I sit in the stillness, finally alone with my heart in the hush of November’s gloaming.
The days are getting shorter. The nights colder. The landscape is brown and winter is coming. It is not the time for planting, yet this week we buried the body of my dear sweet friend, delivered finally from the fetters of her cancer ridden frame. The shapes of the day were heartbreaking and beautiful—flowers on the gravestones of her mother and grandmother, her husband and children caught in a long embrace, the casket covered with handfuls of earth.
My mind rests on those few quiet moments loaned by a gracious God as I wandered through a wilderness of waiting—listening to the rise and fall of her breathing, holding her hand, kissing her forehead one last time. As I sat by her deathbed, the beauty of our memories stood out in bright relief against the valley’s shadow. I traced the arc of our friendship from the early days with little ones to the more recent ones when we could snuggle up on the couch and have uninterrupted conversations. But most of all, I prayed.
I prayed for her and wondered how it would be that she would enter Heaven’s gates. As a child running into her Father’s arms? As a friend leaning against the bosom of her Savior? As a bride adorned for her Husband? The two of us had talked about the biblical images–how the Lord tried to wrap words around how wonderful it will be, but that only when our faith was made sight would we truly see.
I prayed for her husband, this man who joyfully kept his vows to the very end . . . who delighted in his bride . . . who was a gentle shepherd to his family . . . who invited me to partake in this exquisite journey even though I felt inadequate and unworthy.
I prayed for her children, whose lives have been so deeply woven with our own. The beautiful daughters who found graceful womanhood under her watchful care, the boy-turned-man who, along with his sisters, brought so much joy. I prayed against bitterness, and for peace in what the Father ordained.
And I prayed for my heart—that I could hang my own fragile faith on the scaffolding of sufficient grace . . . a grace which became her strength as she finished the race.
Now I walk into new, unfamiliar days—so rich for having known her, so rich for having been known. She gave me the true measure of love—allowing me to be perfectly myself, loving me for who I am and believing in who I am becoming in Christ. The ache is deep, but the beauty of hope is an anchor for my soul.