I feel as if I’m surrounded by mortality lately. 😦 First my good friend has been fighting cancer for a long time and has been put into hospice, then there was Chili passing, and right about that same time a friend’s sister was in critical condition thanks to blood clots as a result of birth control pills. With all of this going on at the same time, it’s really been difficult.
Thursday morning I received notification that my friend’s sister, Amber, had passed away, to join her brother, Robert, who had melanoma that took his life 5.5 years ago. The kids and I immediately packed up the car and drove to Houston for the funeral. I was able to spend time with my friend and her family yesterday at the viewing. I have known this family for as long as I can remember. Our dads were volunteer fire fighters together and we were in school together from kindergarten through senior year. We were in each others weddings. We’ve got the kind of relationship where we can go a year or more without seeing each other or talking, then pick up where we left off the last time as if no time had passed at all.
While I’ve become closer in my relationship to God the last year, I also find myself questioning WHY a lot lately. I just don’t understand why such wonderful people suffer so much. It was hard for them to go through the death of Robert. I was there through his initial treatments and things were so hopeful. He was approaching his 5 year cancer free visit when it came back. And it was everywhere. My friend had just had her first baby and the family was thrilled. As a matter of fact, Amber had apparently spent the last year buying baby clothes and toys every time she passed a sale in the hopes of becoming an aunt. At my friend’s baby shower, the two huge TUBS of clothing (which were only a small portion of what Amber actually had bought) were proof of what a wonderful aunt Amber was going to be. When they knew they would not have much more time with Robert, the family took a trip to Disney World together to help make more happy memories.
This time they did not get to have that time. One day in May, Amber was at her best friend’s house and collapsed. She was rushed to the local ER and it was discovered that she had several blood clots in her lungs. She coded 4 times. She was in ICU and never regained consciousness. When the MRI showed extensive brain damage, she was moved to a hospice facility and taken off life support. Her mother and my friend stood vigil through it all, never leaving her for more than a quick shower. The love in that family is strong. They are close and a beautiful example of a Christian family. I love her mom and dad and have many fond memories of spending time with them. I cannot even fathom the pain they are feeling today.
The funeral was this morning and I think the hardest thing to watch was her dad in tears. This is a man that always has a smile on his face. As a matter of fact, even as I choked up at the site of his emotion, he smiled through his tears. (Amber was a smiler too, and it lit up any room she was in.) A family that has every right to be pessimistic is able to smile through even the toughest of times. Their family makes me want to be a better person. I want to be like them. I want to have their faith. I’m not saying they aren’t questioning God with every fiber of their being, but even through the pain they rejoice.
One of the lessons I was responsible for sharing with the kids at VBS last week was, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
I see this in my friend and her family. They may not realize how their spirit effects those around them, but I can certainly say they touch my heart in so many ways, as I am certain is true of everyone that meets them. I hurt so much for them. And there’s absolutely nothing I can do to ease their pain. 😦