What's been making me think about the line between laughter and tears the past couple of weeks is...I have a friend who is dying.
I guess we are all dying, really...but she really, really is.
And it stinks.
She has fought so very hard, and now she has about finished her race. Not quite, but nearly.
In these last weeks, her family and close friends started a prayer page for her on Facebook, and OH MY at the sweetness that is in all the words. All the words being written to her and all the words being writtten about her on this page. Words that she could sometimes read herself. Now words that are being quietly read TO her.
Words from family and friends; from co-workers...from strangers; from fellow warriors fighting the same battle; from fellow runners in this race called life.
It's been beautiful to see the out-pouring of love directed to her and her family.
It got me thinking about a life well-lived...and about dying...well.
Most of us, or maybe it's just me, would rather imagine ourselves dying in our sleep at a ripe, old age...still fully aware, mentally, and having strength for all of our days.
Doesn't always work out that way.
Because sometimes there is disease. Sometimes there is sickness unto death. Sometimes there are accidents.
There is suffering.
None of us want to suffer...I know that. And none of us want to see our loved-ones suffer. But it happens that way more often than we realize.
It is happening that way with this particular friend.
And as much as it pains me to think about her dying...she IS dying. She is younger than me...and she is dying. She is a wife...she is a mother...she is a Christian. She is suffering. She is dying.
If there's such a thing as dying well, she is doing it.
And the reason she can die well, is because she has lived well.
She invested in people. She got to know them. She made them laugh...and think. She pointed them to Jesus.
We know we will see her again. This is the hope of Heaven...we believe it and we long for it.
She is near.
Truth be told, any of us could be near...we just don't know.
In her life, she touched many people. But in her struggle, in this fight...even as death seems closer now than ever...the lives she is reaching are innumerable. The prayer group is sharing memories and encouragement, with posts from people all over the state...and beyond. Some of the posts are from strangers. All of the posts are so beautiful.
Beautiful memories for a beautiful friend.
One person asked her to look out her window and imagine there are angels camped out...as far as her eyes could see. She told her that they are there...waiting; that they are there to minister...and when the time and hour comes, they will deliver.
They will deliver her to Jesus.
I haven't really studied much about angels or exactly what they do. I know that they are beings created by God to serve Him...and that we do not become angels when we die. But there was just something so comforting about how she described angels encamped around her friend...waiting. Because we don't like to think that our loved ones ever feel alone. They are not.
The angels may be waiting...but the Bible clearly states that we have a great cloud of witnesses and they are cheering us on! Like at a track meet when a runner comes around that last corner...when they've given their all and they aren't quite at the end: this friend is surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, and they are telling her to keep going...that she is almost there...almost Home.
Sometimes, at the Special Olympics track competition, you can see this played out...because people in the stands cheer for all the runners. But I've seen coaches and friends run along the side-lines, clapping for and encouraging a runner...even tho it's "not allowed." And I've seen, with my own two eyes, other racers cross the finish line AND COME BACK to encourage one who is struggling...to help them finish their race.
"Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses..."
So this friend...she is on the last leg of her earthly journey. For her, this life has been way too short. For her family, the suffering has gone on way too long. For Jesus...it's just a breath.
He is whispering to her, "soon."
Her life touched many...and now those lives are touching even more lives. Her community has come together for this: to pray for her, and to support her and her family. Different churches, different cultures and backgrounds...all coming together. For her.
SHE did this...because she lived well.
And now she is dying well...and my heart is just broken for her family.