Her name was Lorna. She was full of vitality and lived life with abandonment. She was beautiful, grace-filled and loved her family relentlessly. Bold, fierce, passionate, soft and incredibly humble. Lorna was teeny tiny in stature but a grande giant in character.
I visited her almost everyday and we laughed about crazy things and cried about sad things. She would send her kids down to the corner store to buy something – anything that would taste good in muffins- then she transformed all those random ingredients into the most yummy muffins right before my eyes. She got that wooden cutting board out and cut thick slices of cheese and we sat at the table and shared our dreams and our secrets and our hearts.
Then one day it all changed. I woke myself up in the middle of the night crying. My body was shaking like a leaf and I was sweating. I dreamed that I was sitting beside her bed in the hospital and she looked at me with those piercing, loving, demanding eyes. She was dying and there was nothing that I could do.
Two weeks later, she invited me to her house and told me that she had been told that she had breast cancer. It wasn’t very hopeful. But she was hopeful. Suddenly I remembered the dream and my stomach got instantly sick. I stared straight into those beautiful eyes of hers and said that I would pray until she got better. That she might get sick but she wasn’t going to die on my watch. She was going to live and see her children get married and hold her grandchildren.
I hated the dream that haunted me. In fact, I don’t think I have told anyone except for my husband. I screamed at Satan to let her go. I screamed at God for allowing her to go through this and allowing me to even dream a dream that was so evil and I screamed at life for being so very cruel.
She got sicker. She put up such a valiant fight and went to church every time her body would let her walk and breathe and sometimes even when it didn’t. She went out with her friends until getting to her front door was too difficult. Then I would visit her when she was very ill. We held hands and prayed. We prayed for her but only for a short time because she just really wanted to use the limited breath she had to pray for her kids. We prayed for our daughters because they were best friends. We prayed that they would always understand the Father’s love, that they would always passionately serve the One who made them; that they would always know their purpose in life and walk in that purpose. We prayed that they could always see their worth and that they would grow up to have beautiful families. Even at the end of her life her grasp was always strong. Her hands were like a thin layer of skin separating me from her bones and at first glance I was worried that I would break her. Then she would take my hand in hers and the grasp would take my breath away. She loved nothing more than her family and her God and the passion was displayed in the strength of her grasp.
Then one day she told me something I will never forget. Lorna told me many things that I will never forget but this one thing stuck with me; almost haunted me. She told me that no one would talk to her about death. She couldn’t talk about death. She couldn’t talk about her fears; about her unknowns about what would happen to her kids; her family. She had to go through death alone because all of her friends wanted to hold onto the fact that she would live – that God would heal her. It broke my heart. God loves healing. God loves freedom. But for whatever reason there are times that he doesn’t grant it no matter how hard you war, no matter how hard you claim the scripture and you believe that he can move mountains. He just does not move this mountain. Sometimes we need to walk with our friends and our family no matter what they are going through in honesty and simply say, “I don’t know but I am here for you.” She told me that day through her gasps and coughing fits, “I know what Jesus’ book says. But the doctor’s book is very convincing right now.”
Soon after that she was transported to the hospice. One day I walked in there and walked to her bed side and held her tiny hand in mine. I pleaded one more time that God would free her of this vile nasty disease of cancer. I cried and my body shook and I felt all sorts of emotion that I couldn’t contain in my body. Then I bent down and kissed her forehead goodbye. She looked up at me and said something. I think she was trying to say “I love you.” I am not sure. The next day she died peacefully in her sleep.
While she was alive she taught me so much. She taught me how to pray, how to clean my house, how to entertain and use those beautiful napkins so that company felt wanted and loved. She taught me how to hug those big massive bear hugs that say, “I think the world of you.” She taught me about friendship and honesty even when it hurt. She taught me how to earnestly and creatively love and how to fiercely stand up for my kids and to protect them. I learned so much from hanging out with her.
But in her death she taught me something else. She taught me to love everyday. I remember one time when she was helping me go through boxes and I came across some lovely embroidered napkins. I told her I was saving them. She told me that life was too short to save anything. She gave me a beautiful candle for my birthday that year that had little treasures in it as the candle burned down. It was such a cool gift and when I opened it, she made me promise that I wouldn’t save it. That I would deem a day very close to that day special enough to burn a candle just for me.
One day, shortly after she died, I stood at my jewelry and I looked at my beautiful pieces of jewelry that I only wore on special occasions. Some were tucked away and I had never worn them. I remembered Lorna saying, “why don’t you wear those everyday?”
I looked at the exquisite jewelry, I picked up one of my chains and held it up to my neck. I had never worn it on an ordinary day. It was a special piece. But I decided that day that even ordinary days were extraordinary. I was alive. I was breathing. Today warranted jewelry. Today deserved my stamp of approval.
I wear jewelry everyday. I wear jewelry on my day off and sometimes even in my jammies when I have not gone to bed yet.
Because everyday is a special occasion.