Monday, April 6, 2015

A Surprise

When the doorbell rang, I told my mom to tell Rebecca to come on in to the family room where I was lying on the couch. I just remembered that my friend had said she was coming over.

I heard whispering. What was taking her so long to come in? Finally my mom came back saying, "You better come to the door."

There was Rebecca on my front porch with a rose in her hand. She held the screen open as I walked out onto the patio. Dozens of people were in my front yard, each holding a rose.

I finally understand what it means to have your breath taken away.

The tears came, and I couldn't talk. I could barely breathe. One by one, my friends, neighbors, and family came up to me with their flowers. One by one they hugged me and said, "I love you."

I was so overwhelmed, I couldn't remember half their names. Some people I didn't recognize. But I loved them all. I could hardly take in all the love I felt from them.

Someone put a jacket on me. Someone led me to a chair. I caught my breath and just let the love soak in. If I've learned anything through my cancer, it has to do with love. To love and be loved. That's what it's all about.

Today I sit here, admiring over a hundred roses (my daughter counted) blooming on my kitchen table, each from a friend who has generously expressed their love to me. Of course the flowers won't last forever. Some are already nodding. But I will remember my friends forever. 

Forever. I believe in forever. I believe in Jesus Christ, and Endless is His name.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dear Ruth

Dear Ruth,                                                                                                            21 Feb 2015

          I'm glad Donna sent the next rose to you. It was a delight to visit with you. I loved your china cabinet covered with photos of your numerous posterity. They are lucky to have you for a grandma, great-grandma, and great-great-grandma. Here is the picture I took of you. You can tape it up on the cabinet if you'd like.

          I'm writing from St. George. Tonight I delivered a rose to your brother as you requested. (Of course I was already planning a trip here to visit my parents.) His wife answered the door and invited me in.

          Cliff looked comfortable in his blue and green plaid pajamas in the La-z-boy recliner. A Lawrence Welk re-run was on, but your brother was sleeping. I wasn't sure she should, but Shirley woke him up to give him the rose. She told him it was from you. He took it and mumbled something that I couldn't make out. His wife asked him if he needed more pain medicine. She must have heard (or felt) a yes because she got her syringe and squirted some morphine under his tongue. He went back to sleep. I held his hand for a moment. I couldn't help it. I just wanted to be near this sweet man.

          Shirley put the flower in a vase and invited me to sit. I noticed the half-finished afghan on the couch. Shirley says she knits, crochets, embroiders, and tats to stay occupied. Looking over at her husband, she told me she'd go out of her mind watching him die if she didn't have something to do.  Did you know it is their 64th wedding anniversary this very day? To stifle the tears, she quickly turned our attention back to the crafts. "Would you like to see the tablecloth I embroidered when I was 6 years old?" Of course I would.

          For almost an hour I humbly admired several hand made items. My favorite was a quilt she was making using an old Golden Book coloring book as a pattern for the animals.

          Every time she left the room to retrieve another item, I looked over at Cliff. I wished he didn't have to wear that oxygen tube. You told me yourself it can be uncomfortable at times. But he did look peaceful. His coloring was good. I wished I could take his picture to send to you, but it didn't seem appropriate.

          I thought about your parents who are in heaven, probably ready to greet Cliff when he arrives. Did they really have 11 children? I'm glad you told me their story about coming from Germany. They sure sacrificed a lot for their faith in God.

          As Shirley settled back into her seat, she picked up one of her projects and began crocheting. She was almost finished. "There we go," she said as she cut the yarn and worked the end through the piece. "All done. It's a scrubby for your dishes, and I'm giving it to you."

          I thanked her with a hug, and we said goodbye. I knew in my heart that God loved this couple. Not just loved them, but cherished them.

          I know God loves and cherishes you, too, Ruth. Thank you for letting me into your life. Thank you for sending me to your brother and sister-in-law. May God be with you until we all meet again.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Paper Butterflies

With a prayer in my heart, I knocked at Cathrine's house. I had been told that her husband died suddenly last week, and, of course, she was heartbroken. Maybe she won't even want to come to the door, I thought. But then when I saw this woman I was surprised to see her nicely dressed, hair curled, and make-up on. She looked sad, yet beautiful and much younger than she probably is. After I gave her the rose from her friend Trudy, she invited me in to sit and visit.

I asked Cathrine how she was coping. She said if she does nothing else, she will get up everyday, brush her teeth and get ready. She shared some of the stresses she now faces trying to make sense of her husband's business. (Most of the books were kept in his head.) His death was so sudden, and she wished she could have just 24 hours with him to go over so many details.

But no matter what, she was going to get up everyday and hold it together, if even for only two minutes at a time. 

She introduced me to two of her adult children, Jason and Tenille. Arms linked, Cathrine rested her head on her son's shoulder as Tenille showed me the program she made for her father's funeral. She told me how all the grandchildren were involved in setting up displays of their grandfather's life. One girl made a creative picture of a temple from paint chips because her grandpa was a painter.

Then Tenille handed me an origami butterfly. Butterflies are the mascot for those who suffer from Lupus. Tenille's daughter Makenna, who is sixteen and was diagnosed with the disease, recently began making these butterflies from little squares of patterned paper. First she writes different messages of hope on each one, then folds them up with "Open Me" on the wing, and leaves them different places. She'll put one with the waitress's tip, place one on a park bench, or hide one in a mailbox. It gives her a joy that softens her sickness. To see a sixteen year old do this makes me happy.

Today I am on a mission to hide the #11 butterfly for Makenna. I hope the person who finds it feels the love of this wise-beyond-her-years teenager and especially the love of God.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice!

I love the scripture that encourages us to "mourn with those that mourn" and to "comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18: 9). That happened today as people thought of others who are struggling with some problem or another. They composed tender messages of love to accompany the roses I delivered. It was gratifying to participate in these exchanges.

But there were also happy notes that went from friend to friend. "You're great", "Good luck tomorrow!", "To my best friend".

Is there a scripture that says "rejoice with those that rejoice"? I don't know. But there could be. It must please God to see his children serving each other in the happy times as well as the difficult.

One lady sent me across her street to a young woman about to be married. Her note said, "Thanks for letting me see your wedding dress today!" When I met the bride-to-be I could feel her happiness. I gave her the flower and card from her neighbor and explained how the rose game works. She said, "That is so cool! Wow, how neat!" She was so enthusiastic about it that I couldn't help but feel joyful. I kind of wanted to jump up and down with the fun of it.

It reminded me of the day, a long time ago, when I told my cousin Douglas that I was expecting my first child. He jumped out of his chair and shouted and danced around the room. Of course I was already thrilled about my pregnancy, but seeing his happiness about it made me even more happy!

I just love delivering all kinds of roses...the ones that mean "I'm sorry for your loss" and the ones that shout "hip hip hooray".

Update: One of my new friends found this verse for me in the New Testament: "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Romans 12: 15). Perfect! Thanks Sonia!