Monday, October 25, 2021

Broken purpose


I wasn't planning to start writing here today, but yesterday grief forced it's way into my life again.  I lost a dear friend. One of my only in person friends.  A neighbor.  I deeply believe that she was a gift in my life.  She gave me a purpose but hindsight looking back,  she was teaching me to love my neighbor.   The kind of love that Jesus spoke of in reference to the greatest commandments:

39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.   --Matthew 22:39

The rain is pouring outside.  Rain and grief seem to go hand in hand together.   I love to watch the rain and so did my dear neighbor friend.  She and I both hated the heat of summer and would dream together for the cool weather to finally return.  She would have liked the weather today.

I'm writing through these painful tears rolling down my cheeks and off my face;  the kind that has sobs that take away your breath and your eyes get so puffy they are hard to open.  I feel guilt for not being a better neighbor.  I did try and in the worldly sense was a  "good" neighbor who brought her meals, called her often, and listened, but I know I could have done better and now it's too late and I'm aching inside.  That pain is what is suffocating my beating heart and the words need to be written as they overflow with the salty tears.

We were opposites in so many ways.  She could laugh out loud, really loud.  She drank a lot.  She had a really hard childhood.  She could make the best potato salad.  She would never forget to call.  And she had a special innocence to the world around her, which was God's grace as she would really worry herself sick - like physically sick.   

But something she did best, was to truly love greatly.  She was a friend to my children and I know she loved them and my grandchildren as much I do.  She always had a dish full of candy.  I was a wee jealous of her sometimes.  She got to give them candy and I had to play the good mom and not let them eat too much candy.  For these many years that our property shares a fence line, I wish I had taken more time to sit face to face like my children had and gotten to see her smile more or the light in her eyes.  My children knew it well.   My husband knew it and I know I missed out on a lot of special moments.  They were the ones that would trek back and forth anything we wanted to give each other.  I grieve this so much right now.  I'm already missing the daily phone calls and even saved her last voice messages because I want to hear her talk again. 


I have the macaroni salad in my refrigerator that she made the day she died.  She was so worried over spreading germs to us that she called to share that she had used hand sanitizer and made sure that everything was carefully washed.  My last conversation with her was about this macaroni salad and I shared how I wasn't worried about any germs and that I had already enjoyed a bowl of it for my breakfast.  I see that macaroni salad in the refrigerator and I can't seem to eat it right now.  I have no appetite and that irrational thought haunts me that saving it somehow will make it last longer and hurt less.  I know it was one of the last things, if not the very last thing she cooked.  Cooking was part of her love language, but she had so many love languages.  Over the years, cooking was really hard for her.  Her hands shook and she often felt dizzy.  I sent over some Circus Peanuts candy that I had bought for her when my daughter met her husband at the fence to get the macaroni salad.    It was her favorite candy.  I don't know if she even ate one and I don't know why I even bought it when I did with no special occasion.  Maybe a gentle nudge maybe from the Holy Spirit.  I hope that she knew that I often thought of her even though I failed to visit her like I should have.  It would be easy to blame the pandemic, but for years before that I failed at this too.  One day I hope I can forgive myself as I am thinking she would have already forgiven me now.

I do remember giving her a Bible on a visit.  I've only had a few moments in my life where I felt the nudge to give a Bible to someone.  I'm not even sure she would be able to read it with her shaky hands.  Again, I wish I would have helped her read it.  Guilt has a way of making itself bold in the beginning moments of grief.   I know she prayed.  She actually shared something one day about her prayer life that I am learning to be better at because of her.  She struggled with swearing and cussing and always said she had a sailor's mouth, but that she would pray anyways knowing that God made her and knew exactly how she was.  She knew He accepted her just for being her.  She would pray on her porch in the morning, with her cigarette and her Mexican coffee, spiked with alcohol,  but she showed up for prayer.  She showed up to pray looking up at the sky.  I'm ashamed to admit that sometimes, I haven't shown up - just like walking through our fence line to show up for a visit.  Oh I hurt.  I was hypocritical giving her a Bible and yet sometimes missing out on part of the relationship with God myself.  I realize now that Edie taught me this - she taught me relationship building with talking and listening.

So as I sit here, with raindrops on the windows, typing this out with my cloudy eyes, my faith is mixed with guilt.  Some say angels are walking among us.  The Bible tells us:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.     - James 1:17

Edie was a gift.   She was my good and perfect gift as my neighbor.  While I thought she was giving me some purpose in life, maybe, actually I know,  I was part of her purpose.  She was giving me purpose by teaching me about the very deeper part of purpose.    


Lately, my husband and I have been discussing a move from this home to another state, but there was always a struggle to move away from Edie.  I felt needed here by her and that I needed to help her.   I am so sorry that I didn't see that I needed her.  I needed her probably more than she needed me.


Edie, I miss you so much.  I needed you in my life and will forever be grateful.  And as we ended every phone call she would say, "If you need anything call me."  I'd return that same sentiment and then both of us would say, "I love you."   I never did "need" anything that I knew at the time, but always tried to stay in touch every day.  Today, I desperately want  to call and say, "Edie, I'm calling because I do need something -  I need you". . . I want her back in her house so I can walk over and get in all those visits that I should have done more.


Dear Heavenly Father,  I'm showing up for prayer.  I'm hurting so badly and don't even know how to pray right now.  Thank You for gifting me Edie.  Please help me to use her example in my life. ~amen

Sidenote:  Our house phone just rang and my heart pounded fast.  Edie was the only one who called on our house phone number beside spam calls.  We kept our landline for her calls.  We all knew that if it was Edie we answered it and all other calls just went to the machine.  Another trigger earlier today was hearing the sirens.  I will never forget sitting on my bed and hearing the firetruck.  I just knew it was too close.  My youngest daughter and I ran to the my bedroom window and pulled back the curtains to watch it pull up her driveway with an ambulance shortly following behind.  My husband went next door to offer support and I watched, texted my daughters to pray,  and then saw the ambulance leave with lights and sirens.  I just knew then, but hoped for something different.