I lost a friend yesterday morning. She died, too soon, of a malignancy that all of the skill of the doctors couldn’t stop, in spite of all the fervent prayers offered on her behalf. She had accomplished all that God had for her to do, and he took her. She now has no need of faith, for she is in the presence of the Lord. Since there is no time in Heaven, it seems to her as though she has always been there, and this thought comforts us.
We were young women together. For the first couple of years we knew each other, one of us was always pregnant. We started a church together. I helped start a Christian school; she and her husband established a Christian daycare. Another friend and I gave her a baby shower for her second son; she threw me a party when I had my own surprise baby a year later. She sang in the choir; I played the piano. We sang in a trio together, and watched our children grow. Our church grew, too, and she worked in children’s ministry and continued in the choir. We attended Bible study together. Her husband helped mine lay my kitchen floor; in May, my husband returned the favor and helped lay the hardwood in her hall. We commiserated through remodeling projects and bought hot tubs. We drank pots of Nicaraguan coffee over after-church desserts. Once our children were all grown, we would meet in Branson for vacation. We shared an amazing night last Christmas watching the Silver Dollar City tree lighting show, and then closed down a restaurant in town (in Branson, that happens at 8 p.m. in December).
Last Easter, we went to church, where her husband, dressed as a high priest, served as a visual aid for the sermon. Afterward, we all went out to dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant where we laughed over the live goat that was part of the service, and then the conversation turned to our middle-aged aches and pains. She complained of a backache, which we all thought was because of a fall at Jazzercise. We swapped names of chiropractors. Ordinary meal, ordinary conversation—we just didn’t realize it would be the last time on this earth we could sip hot tea and linger over a meal. By the next weekend, she was deathly ill.
If we were younger, her death would be looked upon as a tragedy. She did die too soon—but not unusually young. For those of us in late middle age, losing a friend is a circumstance we will face with increasing frequency, until we keep our own appointment with eternity. If we live long enough, our circle of old friends will grow smaller and smaller, and there will be fewer and fewer people who remember us before our faces wrinkled and our hair turned gray. Our task now is to remember how short our time together on earth might be, and to appreciate each moment we spend. We have great and precious promises, and eternity will indeed be grand. I look forward to it with all my heart. But for now, I miss her.