The Friend I Didn’t Know I Needed

Friendship is the comfort of knowing that even when you feel alone, you aren’t.

If you need me, I’m here. If you don’t, I’m still here.

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Today has mixed emotions for me.  I’m elated and thankful for this day because it is the day God sent my husband to this earth and eventually to me.  It’s his birthday and he has been my knight in shining armor and as he’s aged, my bull in a china cabinet.  The man’s a hot mess.   But he’s mine – all mine, and I’d like to keep him as long as possible. 

And now for the mixed emotion. 5 years ago I lost very good friend and neighbor. Our relationship had been a odd one, I never felt we had been destined to be friends, it wasn’t one of those times you meet someone and just click. For years we lived near each other and never spoke, we just seemed to not get along. It was a friendship that had to be worked for. And it happened because God knew we needed each other.

We lived across the street from each other probably 15 years and had hardly said 6 words to each other.   Pre-conceived ideas about each other and our lives got in the way of friendship.   She was married at the time, and her husband was not friendly toward us. So we stayed to our side of the street. Then there was a divorce and things loosened up. She started saying hi and waving when she saw us, we started having conversations in the yard, which led to porching and eventually to coffee in the kitchen. Every morning after the boys went off to school, I would go across the street for a cuppa.

This relationship led to an at home crafting job for me. She was working with a crafter, gluing and glittering snowmen ornament signs. There came a time when they needed a replacement for the first step, glittering the snowman and attaching the scarf. So I agreed to do it. It would be easier for all involved since there would be no transport across town, I just had to walk out my front door and drop them in her garage for her. And then, we had coffee and usually some sort of snack. Our bond strengthened.

I remember the day she asked my advice about her issue with her hemorrhoids. I mentioned if it wasn’t getting better and she was concerned she probably should have them looked at and maybe have surgery for removal. It took her a short while longer to agree to go to the doctor. She was a stubborn and very private person. It wasn’t hemorrhoids. She had cancer and would eventually end up with surgery for a colostomy.

Cancer is a horrible disease and I became her caregiver. Proximity was important to be able to care for her and she didn’t have anyone else closer that wasn’t working full time or could be there as soon as she called needing help. Watching her health decline was devastating and heartbreaking.

But I did my best to help, I held her when she couldn’t be strong and needed to cry. I drove her when she couldn’t drive herself. I was her ears at doctor appointments. I cleaned her and dressed her when things got really bad. It hurt, it hurt so very much. I was losing this friend I didn’t know I needed. And I needed her so badly.

I miss her every day, there are still times I want to call her and update her on something that is happening. Or walk across the street for coffee and a cookie. I know she visits me often in my dreams, some are just dreams, but others are visits I’ve never experienced before her passing – a warmth and brightness that fills me and tells me everything is fine now and what it should be.

So today is bittersweet, in more ways than one – it hurts she is gone but I know she is with her Savior and happier than she ever thought she would be, with no pain and disease. It’s still hard to let go, even after all this time. I want to “Stay for one more cup and a cookie…”

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