The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of discovery for me and I find myself at a loss of where to begin. My studies have recently been mainly on focusing on God in everyday life and I believe I realize now why that is.
I have made it a practice to speak to God several times a day. You could call it prayer but I prefer to call it conversation, even though it might seem a bit one-sided to someone overhearing me. I have learned that I have so many things to be grateful for so I try to remember all of those things before I start asking for anything else. I speak to Him because He is always with me, even if I don’t “feel” His presence, I know because I trust His Word and He promised to never leave me.
An intimate relationship with God starts solely on faith. We initiate through prayer because God has already done the rest. When we pray, we must believe that He hears us (1 John 5:15)and will answer in His way in His time. We might pray and not get an immediate answer. Does that mean He didn’t hear us? No. It means we must remain faithful, believing the answer will come at the right time.
This is what happened for me. My 94 year old best friend was in failing health and I’ve known for a while that she would pass sooner rather than later. I have been mentally preparing for it for months, but I’ve learned that mentally preparing for something is really kind of useless because it’s impossible to know how you will feel when it actually happens. Anyway, the scenario happened rather quickly. One day, she was normal, the next day, she was feeling a little under the weather and the third day, she was going in to liver failure and in the hospital. Long story short, she had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer that had metastasized into her liver and beyond. The hospital had no treatment for her due to her age, and she didn’t want it anyway. Her family decided that the Hospice facility was the best place for her so she could have 24-hour care.
On her third day at the hospice home, my family had two visitors from another country arrive for a stay of two weeks. The pressure I felt was a little overwhelming because I needed to spend my free time at the hospice home, not entertaining people I didn’t know. Miracle number one: the visitors were extremely easy to get along with, didn’t need to be “entertained” and never complained about my cooking. I was able to go to the hospice home whenever I needed to without feeling obligated to leave early.
Meanwhile, my friend’s health deteriorated rapidly, due to dehydration and lack of nutrients. She was lethargic and unable to carry on long conversations because she kept falling asleep. Technically, she had decreed no life-saving measures, so no IV fluids were offered (hospice can’t really do that anyway), and the amount she took in orally was limited because she had no strength to pick up the cup herself. This was the hardest thing to watch, because it was a dramatic change from only the week before. My husband recognized the dehydration quickly and confronted the nurses at the facility (to no avail since she had already decreed no life-saving measures).
One of our foreign visitors, who is a nurse and very easy to talk with, offered to go with us to visit her where she concurred with my husband about her dehydration and offered possible solutions for the situation. The nurse, however, informed us that it would be going against the family’s wishes as well as my friend’s. I’m not so sure about my friend wanting to die from dehydration, but I had no say.
Two days later, the point was moot, she was taking her last breaths. This was the hardest thing for me to watch because it appeared so agonizing, even though I realize that technically, her spirit was already gone. Even the memory, I find it hard to cope. I remember holding my husband tightly after all the business was taken care of and asking him, “what am I going to do?” I know it sounds pretty selfish, but she was such a strong part of my life I felt a little lost without her already.
Miracle number two: I had two visitors from another country at my home that I needed to be needed by. Does that make sense? I was able to be distracted just enough to cook for them, have conversations with them and focus more on their satisfaction rather than my mourning. Yes, I mourned, but I wasn’t lost. They were with us for another week which has been enough time for me to grasp that my friend is gone but I still have work to do.
My intimacy with God allowed Him to provide for me what I needed when I didn’t know I would need it. It was just enough to help me stay together mentally and not have a breakdown, which I might have because I am still so heartbroken by the loss. More than that, though, I am thankful to have this friend who is with me all the time and gives me what I need when I need it. And to think, I all I did was talk to Him. How else can we open the door to intimacy?