It's quiet. The people I love are sleeping and all I can hear are the soft sighs they make when they stir and the clicking of my computer keys. Allergies and thoughts of my friend keep me awake.
I dreamt of him last night. I walked into his room and like a child afraid of imagined monsters hiding in the dark, he asked me to hold him so he could rest. I laid down next to him and he snuggled in close the way my kids used to when they were little and nothing felt as safe or as sweet as Momma's arms. I kissed his forehead; he closed his eyes and peacefully drifted away from me and into the arms of angels.
All day long my stomach dropped every time the phone rang.
Try as I might to live an everyday life without dwelling on the fact that he is leaving, I may as well give into the fact that I am not built that way. My husband says it is because I am a good woman. I think it's because I am a selfish woman. I don't want anyone to leave me.
I've stopped asking God to heal him and begun asking Him to ease his suffering. I can't rest knowing he is in pain and so, so ill. The reports I get of his health say that he is in agony and unable to spend more than a minute or two without getting sick. I want so badly to help and yet here I am drowning in utter helplessness.
I still write him every day or two and sometimes twice a day. I feel overwhelmed with the idea that he must know he mattered; that he was important; that he made a difference. Worse than death is to lie in pain waiting on the end, wondering if your time here meant anything.
At the same time, I value the life that surrounds me more than ever before. I must whisper "thank you" a hundred times a day. When my son comes home from school, when my daughter calls, when my husband crawls in bed next to me, I offer a silent appreciation to God. How can I take anything for granted now? It would be blasphemous.
Some days I laugh at ridiculous things, some days I cry at nothing, some days I do both. But every day I am thankful. Every day even more than the day before, I am certain that love really is all that matters. Before I found out about my friend's vicious illness and before flood waters washed lives and misplaced faith away, I worried daily about whether I was ever going to have the kind of idyllic life glossy magazines and airbrushed icons told me I wanted.
To think I was searching so hard for something so completely valueless when the life that I've been given with its ups and downs and loves and friends is so invaluable makes me wince. What was I thinking? And what a bittersweet lesson it is to learn.
We intertwine, we humans. We weave together whether we intend to or we don't. Misery and pain and sickness and indifference hurt whether it's ours or someone else's. I'm glad. I'm glad that we can choose to let pain teach us or make us bitter. I'm glad that no man is an island. I'm glad we grow together, all tangled up in one another's lives, feeding off of and gaining new strength from the experiences, hardships and joys of one another.
I can't help him, but I can help someone else. For him. Because of him. In memory of him. He inspires me and he reminds me and I won't forget.
Copyright © 2004-2005, Sherri Bailey
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