Thirteen years ago…

…I watched my best friend die. She was the one person who knew all that happened because she too had been hurt badly by him. We didn’t always agree or get along, but I would have done anything for her and she would have done anything for me. I realized a few days ago that no one will ever be able to understand the way she did…because she knew, she hurt, and she struggled with the repercussions of the choices he made to hurt as well.

That horrible moment happened at 2:15 in the morning, a little over seven hours ago as I type this.

For years I’ve replayed it in my mind wondering what I could have, should have done differently to change the outcome. I let comments like “you let her die” haunt me and chain me with grief and guilt and self-recriminations. I let my own mind wander into what ifs and if onlys.

It’s accomplished nothing other than allowing one moment, one horrible moment to have a grip on me for thirteen years.

She died instantly all the medical people involved said. My refusal to accept that and my choice to listen to the other comments and accept them as fact have colored the memories and affected my attitude and my choices to this day.

She died instantly. What a gift. She was having a little discomfort before, but not enough to stop her talking to me about Christmas plans and asking me to move ornaments on the tree while we waited for the ambulance to arrive. I still don’t think she realized what was happening. We were talking one minute, and the next she had fallen out of the chair onto the floor, dead.

Maybe it’s the mind that plays the worst tricks on us in those moments. I called the neighbor for help, shook her shoulder and told her I loved her, and then we did CPR for forty-five minutes while we waited for the paramedics. The lips that were purple when I rolled her over were pink again by the time they arrived, and when they put the heart monitor on her I saw the heart beat…but didn’t connect it was there because of the CPR being performed.

And so I drove to the hospital believing all was going to be fine and that she would be home for Christmas…and was crushed when the doctor said she was gone.

Maybe it’s time to look at that night differently. To see that she wasn’t alone when she died, and that she was not in pain or aware of what was getting ready to happen. To see that she loved Christmas, it was a magical, hopeful time of year for her and so when they say her favorite Christmas Carols at the service at the huge church, she would have enjoyed it tremendously. To see that God was there that night, protecting her, caring for her…and doing the same for me even in my ignorance.

In those moments of profound hurting and grief He amazingly and willingly draws close as we welcome Him into our pain, seeking the comfort and sense that only He can bring to horrible situations even if we’re not aware we’re doing it. He never says no. He never says “if you had done _____, I could help you now.” He is present and cares, and waits for us to invite Him in…He waits gently and tenderly, patiently and graciously.


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