There are all kinds of grieving. When you're diagnosed with a chronic illness, you grieve the life you have to leave behind. When you are forced to quit a job because of your health, you grieve the loss of your job. You may grieve certain relationships who can't handle a diagnosis for which there is no cure. And then there is the loss of a loved one. That grief is soul-stripping. The rip-your-heart-out kind of grief that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.
My best friend Linda was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic endometrial cancer on November 1, 2007. After a valiant fight of 11 months and 1 day, Linda went to be with Jesus. I got to see her the day before she died, at Faith Hospice. She was in and out, mostly out, yet there was still enough "Linda" there to recognize. I know that she knew who I was, knew that I was there, and knew that I loved her. I held her hand and wiped her brow, and begged God to bring her home. I wrote her a letter a few months ago and told her that even though I was still holding out for a miracle, I didn't want to leave anything left unsaid. I told her exactly how much she meant to me, and how she touched my life.
Linda was the kind of friend that you could wake up in the middle of the night if something horrible happened. She was the kind of friend you could depend on, 24/7, 365. She was LOYAL. We had one fight in the entire 14 years of our friendship. She was so quick to forgive me for being overbearing and way too into her business. She had a quiet strength and determination that many people underestimated. Linda loved deeply. She didn't make friends quickly, but when you became her friend, you were her friend for life. She was a friend worth fighting for.
Linda's favorite verse was Zephaniah 3:17; "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." I remember the day she found this verse. I walked into her apartment and she showed it to me first thing. She had written it on a piece of paper and put it on her end table. That God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, would rejoice over her with singing made Linda almost giddy. I don't think she realized how many people rejoiced over her.
So to my dear, precious Linda: I will love you always, I will forget you never. You have indelibly changed my life. While my heart is broken, my spirit is soaring because I know that you are now whole, healthy, happy, and pain-free. There are no tears beyond Heaven's gate. There is no more night. There is no cancer. To the Best Friend a person could want...a sister, really. I miss you already.