Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Weeping for My Friend . . . Praying for My Friend

Hush fills the room . . . a breath of peace sweeps through my aching heart as my Father in Heaven holds me close. I ache for a dear, dear friend who lost her son quite suddenly on March 28th.

Yesterday I received a blank email entitled “In case you hadn’t heard” with a word doc attachment labeled with his name and “Announcement_Final.” I opened the doc with a wry smile on my face, wondering what more this boy could possibly achieve; he had already secured tennis championships, coveted music awards and chairs, stellar grades, mastery over languages. This dear boy had truly amazed us all with his achievements and honors, like becoming an Eagle Scout at 14.

The doc revealed a handsome picture and a list of accomplishments that my mind’s eye took in, omitting the “Beloved Son . . .” at the opening. I read through the list expecting to read of an early graduation with honors and a trip to Harvard soon. Instead, I got to the bottom and read: “October 1, 1992 – March 28, 2009” I did a double take. I gasped. I cried out “WHAT? No! That’s not possible . . .” and the tears burned hot in my eyes as they scanned up and down for another reading and another and still another, seeking that graduation announcement or other celebratory statement that I wanted so desperately to find. I never found it . . .

Instead I sat back in a pool of questions . . . unanswered. A perusal of local newspapers revealed only that he had died. No accident listed. I knew of no illness. In fact, my friend’s last email to me contained an invite to a Sorority reunion that I declined in a newsy update. She replied back with a pat on the back for us in allowing Elizabeth to take a break from the rigors of school to do a bit of soul-searching. In that March 9th email she wrote:

I am glad she is taking some time just to be.
Our children will live to be 100, so why rush anything.

And now, such a short time later, I receive this farewell announcement for her son. He died the day of that reunion. What happened? Did she go to the reunion as planned? Was she there to receive a devastating cell call? Was he sick and thus she missed the reunion? My questions gnaw at me with a deep pain, and yet her pain and questions and gasping moments dwarf mine. I know . . . for I too have lost a son.

And so I simply pray . . .

I make off to my garden and seek solace from the Almighty. He offers neither stones carved with answers, nor burning bushes of explanation; instead I find beauty and life brimming in buds of hope and sprigs of life. I weep . . . for her, for me, for all of us as we struggle to live in this world that makes no sense sometimes. And still we believe . . . because He holds our hearts . . . and our hope.

The weather has heated up and Summertime temperatures swirl onto the stage, edging out a cool Spring dancer as I walk the gardens seeking shady spots to pause and wipe a tear. I feel the camera in my hands as I capture pictures to divert my aching heart. Such a loss in the face of blossoms in springtime . . . an oxymoron I can barely comprehend.

Seasons . . . growth . . . blossom . . . fruit . . . death . . . loss . . . preserved moments – memories to enjoy at a later date.

This day I pull out dusty memories of my friend's “little boy” who grew to attain such achievements in only 16 short years: a baby who became a boy and stood on the threshold of GREAT things. Great hope enveloped him throughout his growing years. Memories of first crawling moments that resulted in getting stuck under my sofa, prayers over boo-boos and stitches, congratulations sent for championship trophies, honor rolls, and all the rest. Like sweet preserves from a distant summer’s day (fruit lovingly tended, picked, processed and packed away to enjoy later), I thickly spread the treasured memories to enjoy a-new. I celebrate this young man’s all-too-brief life and shed tears of sympathy/empathy with a mamma’s deep, deep grief – too deep for even words of explanation.

She doesn’t read my blog or anyone’s that I know of, and she quietly demurs from connection right now . . . but I know she feels my love . . . my prayers . . . my shared grief. Friends from long ago . . . know.

Long ago we met at UCLA as newly-pledged sisters to a sorority. Our friendship grew through late night chats, lazy Sunday teatimes (even way back then friends gathered at my tea table), and lonely weekends in an empty house whose distance from our Northern California homes made weekend visits home unfeasible. Later we shared memories made at weddings (even though she arrived on Saturday eve for my wedding which took place the previous Friday eve – she was zany that way and I loved her all the more for showing up to an empty church and asking all over for me). Time elapsed and we began to share memories of babies. I laugh whenever she recounts her first visit to me after the boys were born. She showed up in a prim dress with French-braided hair, ready for a tea party. Instead we spent the next couple of hours juggling hungry babies, medications, diapers, and all the rest of the glamour that goes along with newborns. She left exhausted. I didn’t hear from her until a lonely letter arrived some years later – stay at home mommies in a working-mommy world needed to stick together. And we did.

Letters passed between us for years, gliding into emails of faster turnaround. Life passed, our families grew and moved and grew and moved again and grew some more. My five children and her two children gave us lots to talk about, cry over, and always, always pray about. Now and again we actually visited each other, but mostly our bond grew through missives. When Andrew went home to be with Jesus she offered to come be by my side, but I knew I would need her later and so she stayed tending her busy, busy life and encouraged me with her words and friendship across the miles. The last time we met for tea, about three years ago, we drank tea and chatted and then we walked in the frigid December air and talked and talked and talked. So much to say . . . so much had happened . . .so much left to care for, dream about, wonder about. We embraced one last time and went back to our busy lives. An occasional layover in her town offered hope of a meeting, but once again events clashed and we failed to meet. It didn’t matter . . . it was fun to hope and I just knew there’d be other opportunities.

My last visit with her in her home resembled one long slumber party with pedicures, and popcorn, and silly grins from her son and daughter as they watched us be silly. The hugs I lavished as I left were never meant to be the last I gave to her son. I looked forward to many more hugs and hurrahs as he climbed the ladder of success he seemed so destined for. President? CEO? Whatever he chose, or so it seemed with his string of achievements. And then in an empty email with an attachment I find out that it has all come to an end on this end of his life. There will be no further hugs or hurrahs. And I weep . . . for her . . . for me . . . for the whole world that has been cheated of a fine young man with dreams to fulfill.

My friend’s silence calls out to me for prayer. She prayed for me when Andrew died. She embraced me in love and never asked details or divulgences from a grieving mamma. She loved me . . . as she always has . . . with an open, outspoken, zany, full-hearted love of a sister. I am now called upon to return the favor though I am an introspective, pondering one who finds it so hard to shrug off and dance in a world full of questions with few satisfactory answers. I shall simply pray and wait for the moment when she needs a cup of tea and possibly a chat . . . or not.

* * *

Dear Father,

Please keep my friend warm and safe in your loving embrace, under your downy wing, through this valley of the shadow . . . as you have kept me so often.

Keep me as the apple of the eye,
Hide me under the shadow of thy wings

Psalm 17:8

A Bleeding Heart Newly-Sprung in My Gardens


jojo said...

beautiful, heart-wrenching, soul bleeding, unimaginable grief. May your friend feel the love and grace of the Lord and may her son fly high on the wings of the Angels. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. jj

FancyHorse said...

Your compassion for your friend and your grief for her loss is so well written here. My eyes are brimming. I join you in prayer.

(I have an award for you on my blog, whenever you are ready for it.)

Davene said...

Oh, Debbie, I am so sorry about your friend's loss. I will join you in prayer, giving thanks that God knows all the details and He is able to reach out to her when the arms of others seem too short.

Your reflection on your friendship is beautiful.

Flea said...

Oh honey. I'm crying with you both. I heard from a good friend today (one of the best) that her oldest boy had an emergency MRI after finding a lump in his chest and an 8 pound weight loss. At 14 years old. It's been a day of tears for friends and their children. God sees our tears and holds us close.

Becky said...


kylie said...

there is so much pain here, in the post and the comments.
i have no words for you or for praying but He hears my silence.

my love and prayers

Linda said...

Thank you for sharing about the loss of your dear friend's son. You were so eloquent in your words, and I know they are from your heart. I don't know how one goes on when they lose a child, except through the grace of our Lord. I have lost both a nephew and a niece, but that is not the same as your own child.

May our Lord bless each of you, and give you grace and peace.

I found your blog from Jojo's. I thought I would find a picture of wisteria and roses, but instead found those beautiful daffodils. Aren't they the picture of spring is here!

LadiesoftheHouse said...

Oh how unbelievably sad. She must feel at this time that life is barely worth living and I fear I would feel the same way. We all know that our Father won't give us more than we can handle, but surely this stretches to the very outer limits of that promise. I will think and pray deeply for her today.

Laura ~Peach~ said...

TEARS...and Prayers...

Virginia said...

With tears in my eyes I found this news so sad, I was truly touched by your post.
The loss of a child is an unfathomable tragedy. It can bring forth myriad emotions that threaten to overwhelm us each and every day as we remember the moments that brought us close. Times arise that make it hard to make sense of the world and God's plans for our lives, but He has not forsaken us and though we don’t understand the why? I know that there are questions that can only be answered one day in heaven, and this will be one of them. I send all my love and condolences to you his family.

Kat said...

Oh what heartbreak.
Praying for your dear friend, her son, and the whole family.

gail said...

Prayers for you both and that peace which passes all understanding.

Blessings Gail

Judith said...

How are you doing now, my dear? Prayers, of course ...

Prairie Chick said...

Oh Deb. Ohhh. Weeping with you. Praying with you. Words can not express consolation or comfort, but my prayers will put feet to this sorrow I suffer for you and for your dear sweet friend. We were made for eternity... but how hard it is to remember that this world is just a prologue.

One Woman's Journey said...

Prayers are sent your way. There are no words to express my thoughts for you and your friend and all concerned.

noble pig said...

Oh that is so devastating. I don't know how you and other mother's go through these tradgedies. I want to shout it's so unfair, and so wrong. I suppose there is a bigger plan but my heart is heavy for you both.