Happy Memorial Day!
I’m excited to be sharing the writing of Melissa Bronson today. Melissa is one of my Compel “sisters” and has offered to share her piece here under this month’s theme of Trusting God when Life is Hard in Health.
If you could visit one of her sites and comment, I’m sure she would love the support and encouragement. Enjoy!
I was sitting two pews back when our pastor announced it. Her cancer was back, and it was raging.
She was 27 years old. It began as breast cancer; she’d endured a year’s treatment. She was declared clear and stayed that way only for a bit. When it came back, it had metastasized to her bones.
We had been friendly before this diagnosis, but I wouldn’t say we were friends, per se. But, that Sunday morning, God said, you will walk with her. In the months following, we spent a lot of time together. We walked the path together and learned so much along the way.
She was going to die. I knew this. I knew our friendship would not last very long in an earthly sense. But, God had left no question in His will – you will love her to My doorstep.
So, we became friends. We talked about cancer, but we also talked about flowers and childhood. We cried over another test results and laughed about misplaced keys. We talked about the children she’d never have and desperately wanted. We waded through tough discussions: Where should I be buried? What songs should be sung at the funeral? Who really cares?
Friendship has to be hurried sometimes, so we delved right into the stuff that matters. Heavy stuff.
In her last days, I said, It’s getting harder. I had intentionally jumped into a relationship I knew would be dense and brief. But, it was so much more important than my feelings or hesitancy. My friend needed someone, and God knew this. I’d said to Him, Use me, and it wasn’t up to me how He’d do that. He equipped me, too; all along the way, He always provided exactly what I needed in ministering to my friend.
Here are a few things He taught me:
- Be there. Go to her. Stand there, knock, and smile when she answers. You don’t have to look nice or bring anything. Show your face, look into her eyes, and let her know that you care enough to be with her.
- Don’t avoid the elephant. When someone has cancer, it’s on her mind. Don’t be afraid to say the word around her. Don’t pretend it’s not happening. It is, and for sure and real, your friend knows it.
- Don’t perseverate on gloom. Tell her funny stories. Show her videos on YouTube. The tears will come, but in the midst of it, grasp moments of joy. Bring her flowers.
- Eat ice cream. She was dying, and at that point, calories didn’t matter. Eat with her – whatever she wants to eat. Bring her out for ice cream or doughnuts or Chinese. Ask her what sounds good and just do it.
- Scratch her back. There’s so much discomfort in cancer and dying. Don’t be afraid to touch her. Hold her hand. Massage her feet or shoulders.
- Get her outside. My friend loved taking walks. First, we walked around the block together. Then, I pushed her in the wheelchair. She loved being outside.
- Sing to her. She doesn’t care about the quality of your voice. She cares about the words you’re singing and the comfort you bring. There’s so much beauty in song.
- Talk about heaven. What’s it going to be like? Imagine together. Tell her you’ll see her soon.
She died. But, not really. She belonged to Jesus. So, as her body broke, her soul flew heavenward. She kicked the dead death one last time and ran – unburdened, unshackled – into the arms of her eternal, Life-Giver’s arms where He welcomed her home.
While I mourned her absence, God blessed me so much by this friendship. I am honored to have walked that final leg with her. There’s nothing quite like it, really; walking with someone right up to the gates of Glory. Praise God for His magnificent grace and mercy. He pours it freely.
Here I am. Use me.
M.D. Bronson is a mother to four daughters, sister to the Savior, and daughter of the King. She loves authenticity, her fanny pack, digging in dirt, sharp pencils, and watching her Father’s hand spin Life in and around her. Oh, and words. She loves words. You can find her blog @ www.mdbronson.com or follow on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/mdellabronson.
Twitter handle: @MDBronson
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