The Other Side of Friendship
I've always been pretty cold-hearted about death. Can't explain it -- I believe that I'm emotionally functional, and I do form strong relationships with people, and animals, and things.
But when they die -- whether it's my 83 year old mother of Parkinson's, or my 40 year old friend of AIDs, or my beloved, panicked, rickety dog after a slow drip of poison administered by our vet -- I don't get too emotional. I tend to move on. Even I have wondered what it would take to shake me loose.
As usual, I have found the answer to my question. My friend Glenna died a month ago, just a few months after learning she had pancreatic cancer. And after a couple of debilitating bouts of treatment that could not budge the outcome.
Glenna and I were unlikely friends, given that she was a devout and active Baptist, and I am . . . not. We disagreed on many, many things, but we just kept quiet about it. What did we have in common? A sense of humor (see previous post).
While one was never in doubt that Glenna was Christian with a capital C, she also had a funny bone, and could mimic anyone or anything she found amusing. We shared many bouts of glorious hysteria while pretending to watch our daughters' softball games, plan parties, and attend wedding showers.
She was also a person of service, meaning that she was always doing for someone else, whether that was her daughters, or her Sunday School class, or me, in desperate need of a ride home for one of my kids. Her phone number is the only one I can still remember -- given that it was the one I could call at the last minute and get a clean, non-judgemental "Happy to help" on the other end of the line. She saved my life many times.
A true believer
The last time I saw Glenna was before Christmas. She was smaller than usual, but her eyes burned bright, and her sense of humor was in tact. We had a wonderful conversation about "Friday Night Lights" -- she shared my devotion and thanks to a friend, had recently received a signed head shot of Kyle Chandler with "Clear eyes, full heart, can't lose" on it. God bless Coach Taylor.
At that moment it was hard to see how, although the prognosis was bad, this light was going to go out.
Her faith was very much at the forefront that day, as I guess it was every day. She spoke about how she was not afraid, although she was sad. She had been reading about heaven, she said, and it was just the most glorious place. She had nothing to fear.
What occurred to me as I listened to her that day was that this was what religion was supposed to do for people: give them strength, and comfort, and peace. When it came to being a Christian, accepting God's will, Glenna walked the walk.
Even for a cynical ex-Episcopalian like me, it was inspirational.
Feeling the loss
When one of the many prayer requests came via email, I sent Glenna a card saying that I certainly was praying for her every day, though not in conventional ways. This email came in return:
Dear Paule, I just had to respond to your card and tell how how thankful I am for your love, concern and prayers. Jesus Himself was not considered traditional during His ministry! The blessings He has poured on me during this storm in my life have been so numerous...among them the love He shows me through dear friends like you.
See what I mean? This was a rare soul.
So, earlier this week, when I was running through the woods and a random memory of Glenna popped into head, I took advantage of the solitude to let my heart break, sobbing so hard I had to hold on to a tree, and the dog came back, eyes asking, "Are you okay?"
I'm not, but I will be. And I'm much better for the experience. It's a relief to know I'm human.
Dear Glenna, Good-bye, darling girl. Heaven is lucky to have you. Your friend, P
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