“I don’t have the strength to get up anymore,” she said with tears in her eyes.
I just sat beside her for several minutes saying, “I’m so sorry.”
Finally, she sighed. “It’s not your fault.”
“I know. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.” I took her hand in mine. “Let’s pray.”
I prayed God would fill her with peace, that she would feel his love, and He would help her to be strong and courageous. When we said amen, we both wiped the tears from our eyes.
Then, I took a deep breath and smiled. “So, Micah’s show went well?”
We talked for about an hour. About her kids, then about mine. That’s what we did almost every day. I would ask her how she felt when I saw her, but we didn’t focus on the cancer. I came to see her every day I could because I wanted her to feel a little normalcy in her life. Weeks before we sat on her couch in the afternoon, eating peanut butter M&M’s and watching the cooking channel.
That afternoon she looked me over and asked if I got a new sweater. It broke my heart because I’d actually gotten it several months before. We used to talk about everything. She was that friend who I shared everything with. That’s why there was no place I’d rather be but by her side for that season. We did life together, which also meant doing death together.
At her birthday breakfast, she told me about her funeral. The entire time she talked I silently prayed, “God don’t let me cry. ” I knew she needed to talk about it because Tammy was a planner. She was the most organized person I knew. It meant a lot to her that she had some say in things. So, I listened and didn’t cry. The only time I cried in front of her was when we pray together. And after we did that, I would always wipe my eyes and change the subject.
It was a year ago today that we had our last conversation. When I went to leave I gave her a hug, told her I loved her, and that I’d see her tomorrow. The next two days when I came she wasn’t coherent. She passed away on that third day.
The Bible says to love each other deeply. That means doing the hard stuff. It means showing love when you’d rather turn away. It means going to visit even though it breaks your heart. It means believing and praying for the best time and time again. And it means you will hurt, very deeply.
About a month after she passed I sat down with my husband. Neither of us had lost someone so close to us before so grief was new territory for both of us. Some days all I could do was cry. I knew he was worried, so I told him I needed a year.
“I know eventually I’ll be okay,” I told him. “But I need you to expect there’s going to be super hard days for me for this year.”
The truth is, it’ll be hard for the rest of my life.
They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. The truth is, I knew what I had in Tammy.
A phenomenal prayer warrior.
A sister in Christ who would always tell me the truth even if I don’t want to hear it.
A Jesus freak who not only knew the Word of God but would grow in the word of God with me.
A friend who could make me laugh like no other and never made me feel ashamed when I cried.
A super cook who wasn’t afraid to try new recipes and who was happy to invite me and the kids over for dinner when our hubbies were working.
The smartest ES who could answer any question that stumped me.
A mother who not only love my children like her own but would discipline them like her own.
A woman of God who was strong and courageous until the end.
The best bestie a girl could ever hope for because she always had my back.
I knew what I had. That’s why for a year I prayed fervently for God to heal her. That’s why I spent as much time as I could with her. That’s why I organized meal trains and visited her in the hospital and took care of her and her kids in any way that I could. That’s why I told her I loved her more in the last year of her life and gave her more hugs then I did in the twelve years I’d known her. And that’s why I have grieved so deeply. God has blessed me with many friends not to take her place but to help meet my needs. But I knew what I had in Tammy. It was amazing. And now it’s gone.
My character Adam said in Angel Discovered he didn’t wish because to wish was like to say you didn’t trust God. I know my best friend is in heaven. I’m so thankful that she’s not in pain. I’m so thankful that she’s surrounded by God’s love. But I do wish I still had her here with me. Maybe that’s selfish, but we can’t all be perfect like Adam.
It’s been a year of struggling. A year of anger, a year of rage, a year of depression, and a year of pain. But God has been here, walking beside me, bringing others to help me along. He’s been so gentle and loving as I’ve come to terms with this loss. He’s brought me to a new level of my faith, of trusting His sovereignty and resting in His grace. Grief is a horrible thing unless you surrender it to the Lord. And like most things, that’s a daily process. Sometimes a minute by minute process. But for all the pain I’ve endured, for as broken as my heart is, I don’t for a minute regret loving deeply. And I’m thankful that God has brought more people into my life during this season who I can love deeply as well.
Friends, don’t get so caught up in yourself or in the world that you miss what’s truly important. It meant a lot to me that when my best friend left this earth she knew how deeply I loved her not only because I told her, but because I showed her. In the end, that’s all that really matters.