Tuesday, July 19, 2016

When Friends Share the Journey

I love this definition: A good friend will bail you out of jail, but a great friend will be in the cell with you saying, "Wasn't that fun?"

True friends trudge the journey with you. One of these is my friend, Barb. We met in college where we became roommates. She was an anchor in my life, providing some sanity when I tended to party too much, and typing my term papers for me when my hunting and pecking kept me up all night.(Those were the days before computers.) One thing we did really well together was laugh. We adored bad puns.

Years later, when my ten-year old son, Chris, was diagnosed with leukemia Barb would walk one of my most difficult journeys with me. She did this by supplying me with emotional support as well an endless stream of jokes.

During Chris's lengthy hospital stays we often amused ourselves by picking on one particular nurse who shared our warped sense of humor. Nurse Nancy happened to be blonde so Chris made it his mission to introduce her to every blonde joke known to man. Chris would supply such pearls as, "Nancy, do you know how a blonde kills a fish? She drowns it!" Or, "Do you know why the blonde stared at the orange juice container for an hour? It said "concentrate". 

Barb, who is a natural blonde herself, researched blonde jokes for us and kept us supplied for each new hospital admission. Whenever Nurse Nancy was scheduled to administer a drug that required 15 minutes of close observation Barb always shared our joy. She would email us a long list so Chris could pepper Nancy with them for her entire bedside vigil.  Nancy would retaliate good-naturedly, and the result was the sound of laughter on a cancer ward.

Proverbs 17:22 "A joyful heart is good medicine..."

During Chris's four years of treatment Barb also became my email therapist. I poured my heart out to her as I sat for hours in Chris's hospital room. She was my electronic ear, when it was too challenging or stressful to share intimate details with family members. 

When Chris went to be with the Lord Barb was there. After the funeral, long after the parade of casseroles had ceased, when most of my other friends had returned to their busy lives, Barb was still there. Eventually, when I wrote my book "Christopher's Journey" http://www.maribethditmars.com/ Barb served as my editor, providing valuable feedback and dispelling my many random acts of comma.

Last year I lost my second son, Jarrod. Like Chris's loss, very few friends shared my walk through the fire. Admittedly, there are no words to say to a woman who has outlived her two young sons, but that's a far as most folks ever get.They don't realize that words aren't necessary, just a loving ear. Best friends are the best listeners.

Proverbs 17:17  "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity."

If you have a friend who is suffering, don't avoid them because you have nothing to say 
just be there. Don't be afraid to share a laugh or to just sit and listen. It is okay to say, "I don't know what to say."

Do you have a special gift or talent that you could share? After Jarrod's death my friend, Cathy, sent a crew of volunteers to mow and trim our yard. My wonderful friend, Lisa, lent me her technical expertise with my website and social media. " Don't pay me," Lisa said, "My tennis is rusty. I need you to play with me! And I enjoy your company." 

Romans 15:32 "So that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company."

Having a friends like Barb, Lisa, and Cathy has made me strive to become a better friend. 

Now my dear Barb suffers from early onset Alzheimer's. We can no longer reminisce or share corny jokes. It is an honor to dedicate this blog to her, and to let her family know that her friendship has enriched my life.

Someday when Barb is restored in the presence of the Lord he will surely smile upon one of the greatest benefits of creation—true friendship.

John 16:22 "So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you."