in one week

I’m gonna be vague. I might be specific. I’m eating steel cut oatmeal on a rainy Saturday morning with my grandson, two pups and ex-husband. The veggie sausages are sizzling and my coffee needs re-freshing. None of this matters and yet everything matters. It’s all in the details, in the paying attention to what makes life actually good. It’s been toasty. It’s been freezing (SoCal version). It’s writing. It’s reading. It’s the ability to make a wonderful dinner. It’s going for a walk along the beach. It’s having a cozy bed and actual books with paper and a hardback cover to read. It’s having a family who loves you, and sometimes disagrees with you and your political point of view. It’s having friends, real friends, who have your back even when you don’t see them in person for months–or decades!

All of it matters. None of it matters. Because next week’s gonna happen, and the next. We have a new president, then we’ll have another. Now it’s winter. Soon it will be spring, then summer, then my new life as a retired person begins.

Topsy Turvey. Upside down. Hear the circus revelry? See the helium balloons? The caramel popcorn and corn dogs? Babies. Toddlers. Elementary school—leap into college. In a nanosecond, whew, it’s gone.

The enemy of fast, whew, is hitting the remote, the pause button. Which I rarely do. I’m busy with grandkids, schoolwork, TV-watching, CNN-scanning. But this week, this week of impending rain, I had to stop. Take stock. Cry. Toss and turn. Listen to the distracting lull of podcasts. Feel useless. Cry some more. Pray. And pray and pray and ask, “Why?”

And, of course, there is no answer, no reason why a dear friend of mine is in pain, is suffering, from what she didn’t know she had a week ago, less than a week ago-–cancer. Her husband, her dear, dear husband, says with chemo, if it works, she might might live nine months. Oh, my God. It. Can’t. Be.True. I can hardly type it. It isn’t fair. It isn’t FAIR. She has so much to live for: her beloved husband, her children and grandchildren, all the places she wanted to visit, all things she wanted to do.

But today, she just needs the pain meds to work. So she can sleep, which she hasn’t done for two weeks when the ugly tumors knifed her stomach and back until she had no choice but to go to the COVID-laced hospital. Today, she wants to be well enough to go home and sleep in her own bed and blanket herself with her world of blues and yellows and hot cocoa stations and remaining Christmas decorations. Because I know her, Christmas all year long.

I am profoundly broken-hearted. As are her loved ones—her vast network of friends, family, neighbors, fellow parishioners and beyond. She has done so much good in the world. She isn’t done!

I ask for your prayers, right now, in this moment. I ask that you pray for my beautiful, passionate friend, because if it was you or me, she’ be on her knees asking for God’s grace to help navigate these thunderous days.

Time. No one knows how long or when. No one knows why one person suffers and that son-of-a-gun down the street has the privilege of traveling the world well into his 90s?

It’s a cliche, don’t take anything or anyone for granted. Because you don’t know. We don’t know. What’s gonna happen today, or tomorrow, except IT’S going to happen at some point. It’s going to rain. It’s going to be sunny. COVID will be history. A new virus will take its place. But today, with any luck, we get to breathe. And see. And hear. And dance. And sing and share our love with everyone we love.

My friend wants nothing more than to do that. She can’t do it today as the chemo does its job. But maybe she can do it tomorrow and for as many tomorrow’s God grants her.

For her, I hope you will press the pause button. Take heed to all the beauty and wonder that surrounds you.

Love.

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