Every day someone came just to be with me. I was always on the edge of panic which felt like constant fear. Having someone come was essential to allowing John to go to work and not be worried about being summoned home. It also allowed my kids a chance to have a bit more of a “normal” life. The week ahead I would send out texts to see who was available. I had certain groups with whom I would alter my pleas, trying not to overwhelm any one group. These people were angels sent by God. Women that would take time out of their days to drive to my house and sit with me. I always had two requests. One: tell me truth. Remind me what is good and right and true. I could not hold on to it. It would slip out of my brain into a dark hole. God is with you. He is in control. He has the ability to do all things and he loves you. Part of me knew this, and part could not comprehend it. Reading scripture, although I had such a hard time believing it, was my hope. I believed, I just needed help with my unbelief. And the second request was prayer. Always prayer. No one really could escape a visit without spending time in prayer. Usually while they held my hand. It was always an intimate time. These two things; truth and prayer, made it essential that those who came to help were walking close to Jesus and willing to engage. Strangely, over and over what we would hear people say when they were leaving, either to me, but often to John was how encouraged they were. Encouraged? How could this be? I admit that even in the struggle I never had a moment when I walked away from God. I think of the verse that says “Lord, To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life?” I’m not saying that there weren’t times that IF there was another truth, another salvation, another savior, I would have jumped ship and taken that route. By God’s grace, I just knew better.
I knew that taking a walk, getting some kind of exercise was good for me. Just getting out and getting endorphins going had to help, and at least pass the time. So when ladies came, we walked. I was so tired of myself. My thoughts, my words, me. So I did all that I could to transfer the conversation to them. I’d ask questions about their lives. How did they come to know Jesus? How did they meet their spouse? How could I pray for them? Please can we just think about someone besides me? Often I looped my hand, walking arm in arm. One friend came and did her best to teach me to knit. She brought yarn and knitting needles and got me started on the basics. The only problem is after she left I couldn’t remember how to do it. Complex activities, which at the time would include basic knitting, were overwhelming. But I appreciate the effort. There was a collection of about a dozen ladies that came, some kept regular schedules arriving every Tuesday or every Friday for weeks at a time. The one that came the most and rearranged her life the most was my mom. Mom was 78 when this journey began. She never expected to be caring for her oldest daughter. More on her later. She deserves her own entry.
We had couples that would come in the evenings as well. One couple, Kevin and Gail Ring came with dinner often. Their love and willingness to rearrange their schedule to care for us will forever mark them as people of the village. At one point we had another couple over and the husband asked me, “have you ever had someone massage your feet?” He proceeded, to give me a foot massage. For a brief moment, it was enough of a distraction and felt so comforting that I craved these special spa experiences. And what is so interesting to me now, is these two men, at different times came to my house regularly and gave me foot massages. It makes me laugh now. They were like brothers. There with their wives and my husband and nothing seemed strange about it. People did what they needed to do. Even if that meant taking lotions and rubbing the feet of their friend.
People basically did what they could. This can be a hard truth to accept. Both from the positive side of new friendships and help from places I would never imagine. But also accepting that others just couldn’t do it. Even those who were long time friends just were not available emotionally or experientially. One of the gifts of hardship, whatever the cause, is it equips you to be able to comfort those in need. When you are in the trenches, you need people who have been there. And through this journey I had some that just needed to check out. I know it was hard to endure. I was a mess. But those who had experienced cancer or depression or great loss or deep pain, they were my people. Those who offered less than helpful advice, or quick answers, or nothing at all soon faded. Calls and visits died out from them. And in their defense I get it. I was not easy to communicate with. Dear friends just didn’t know what to do. And so sadly a few just did nothing. There were a few that still thought I should just get over it, and let me know that. Some of those friendships never returned, not yet anyway. Some came back around. God gave me grace to accept and forgive. He also gave me gratitude for new friends that came along.