Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Last Wednesday night, my very good friend lost her dad to cancer.  It's been such a long road for her and, as an only child and with a mother in the early stages of dementia, it's not going to be much easier for her in the near future.  I often find it amazing to see the things I learn out of situations like this.  I thought I would share a few things I have noticed:

1.  Crisis always shows you who your friends really are.  There are people who we think of as only acquaintances who step forward with amazing kindness and generosity and there are people who are supposed to love you who manage to be a.w.o.l.

2.  Friends truly can be family.  My friend whose father died, J, has a best friend from primary school, S.  Dh has joked for years that everyone needs an "Aunt S" because she always spoils everyone.  During this, I truly got to see why everyone needs an "Aunt S" - she did everything from help to buy the space in the cemetery to shopping for a dark outfit for J's son (who is very large for his age, so she bought sizes 7, 8, 9 and 10, just in case).  She took on so much of the work and her sole mission was to be there for J.  She's a very special person.

3.  I sometimes wonder how strong my faith is and whether I have too many doubts.  It was so interesting.  It was a Catholic funeral and I found myself wanting to yell out a few times, as we begged God to accept my friends' father, "Do you believe in Salvation or not?"  This is sad for those left behind but we should know that there is something wonderful and exciting and new and transitional happening here.  My husband grew up in the Salvation Army and the funerals are very different - a "promotion to glory" and they even clap the casket out of the church.  I want that!

4.  When the grandson, who is five, walked down the aisle carrying the stuffed dog that Pk insisted we buy him the other day, my heart melted.  How did she know what it was that he needed?

5.  God is there in the small things.  We brought our friends' son back to our house after the funeral and we cooked a big dinner to feed them when they arrived to pick him up.  As we finished the main course (and I didn't have anything prepared for dessert), the doorbell rang and there was my friend's husband with a tray of fresh cookies.  I had taken her a tray of food when she had gallbladder surgery three weeks ago so she had sent her husband back with the pan, filled of course.  We had a lovely end to the meal with yummy cookies and tea and I think we all got a chance to decompress.  It's funny but it's the little moments like that which linger for me from times like this.

I'm exhausted and it was draining but it means so much TO ME that we were able to be there for her.  I remember at some point, in a course, an argument about whether people can ever do anything that is truly altruistic or whether, deep down, we are always looking for something for ourselves.  In this case, I actually feel kind of guilty - it felt so good to be able to feel like we were doing something to help someone who was suffering.