It was two weeks ago, at about this hour, that I was sitting at this very keyboard when a message came through on Facebook; a note from a childhood friend telling a group of us that another childhood friend had died sometime during the early morning hours. She was found in her bed…
…and I was undone.
For two weeks I have struggled with my words, something that usually just fills my head and heart and easily rolls right out of my fingertips. But every time I sat down to try and write something, I just stared at the blank whiteness on my screen.
She was beautiful, inside and out. A woman with a colorful past, with a heart so filled with vicious love, it consumed her. Her life wasn’t perfect – but let’s be honest…is there any one of us that can make this claim? No. She had her quirks and faults…all that she willingly named and claimed. I adored and even admired her for that. There’s so much of myself that I keep tucked away from prying eyes, but she didn’t care who saw the anguish and longings of her heart.
But she wasn’t someone who begged for attention. She didn’t write “oh woe is me” kind of comments. She’d get her vents out there where they no longer had a hold on her brain and then she’d be done. In spite of her venting moments and troubled loneliness, she was one of the biggest encouragers I knew. “Smiles & Laughter” was her regular sign-off before the end of the day.
I notice, on her last day, that something was up. That morning she called out to her friends to send her some energy for the day. A few of us chimed in with good thoughts that she took to heart. All seemed well. But that afternoon, something had changed. Her posts were ones of anger…
…and I didn’t respond.
I thought she was just having one of her venting sessions and soon she’d be okay. Her last post of the day said, “I hate life…”
I saw it and responded with “Praying!” I woke up the following morning (two weeks ago today) with her heavy on my heart. I sent her one of my favorite passages, Lamentations 3:22-24…Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Along with that, I told her that I was praying she’d wake up feeling refreshed and renewed.
…and she never saw my note.
When the message came through, I wanted to scream. I literally gasped, both hands over my face, and all I could utter was, “OH GOD!! OH GOD!! OH GOD!!…” It took me days to process this type of grief I was feeling…disbelief, guilt…and anger!
My prayers were anguish cries “at” God, “I told her that because of Your love we are not consumed! Well, she was consumed, God. Consumed by her loneliness!!! My words feel empty even now. She never even saw them…” And this went on for days as I wrestled with Him. While I’m good at explaining things, it’s impossible for me to fully explain how loved I felt in those moments. Even in my anger, I could feel His hugs.
I believe He cried with me. After all, she was His as well as I am. The anger in me subsided a little, but then came the guilt. You see…she had moments like these. We had many private message, behind the public comments, and so many times she would tell me what a gift I had for encouraging and comforting her. She never felt like I was shoving God down her throat, but that I always brought some sort of BIG hug along with my words. So guilt moved in on me. I saw the change that afternoon, and I didn’t say a thing…until it was too late. Now I know that God is always in control, but I didn’t use the gift that He has given me to even try to mend her battle wounds. I am ashamed to admit that I passed it off as, “She’s having one of her vent sessions and she’ll be fine.”
…but even there, God has comforted me.
God is in control, and I am not. I have no idea what happened that night…it seems that no one does – or isn’t saying. It doesn’t matter to me. I don’t need to know the details, in fact I don’t want to know them. All I know is that I lost a precious childhood friend and my heart deeply misses her presence .
I lean towards introvert tendencies. I am an open book in various areas of my life that I choose to share with others, but there’s much that I tuck away. I am always in tune to my audience of readers; never wanting to offend. But…I am guilty of missing opportunities to speak life, truth and healing into the battle wounds of those who call me “friend.”
My Dear Friend – I am so sorry that I said nothing. I miss your presence every single day, but assure you that your presence will forever remain in my heart. Because of you, I am changed in many ways. When I feel those nudges to speak encouragement into someone, I won’t just pass them by. Holding up my coffee cup to you.
Smiles and Laughter to you, Sweetie. *cheers!*
Oh, Lover of my soul – You are truly my Comforter, my Savior, my Rock and Redeemer. This has been a rough heart lesson for me. Help me to be confident and bold in my faith…to speak the words that You always put into my heart. I am so thankful that I can have childlike faith, stomping my feet in anger and grief, and that you love and hug me even tighter. Thank You for helping me find my words.
You’re a good good Father. *hugs!*
(Please forgive lack of edits today…this was all about getting the words out of me.)
Holding my cup of coffee up to all of you, dear friends. *Cheers!*
I have also been struggling with my feelings. She was somewhat a ray of sunshine in my life. We had our disagreements from time to time and sometimes would stop talking to each other but always managed to find our way back to communicating. She and I tried to keep each other’s spirit up in the face of life’s disappointments with the idea of tomorrow is a better day…. Both of us faced lifetime medical problems and were struggling to deal with them and that was our bond in life. I have been communicating with a select group of friends about my feelings and what I am going through. Very few people know the particulars of my medical problems. One of my biggest obstacles that I face now in life is my rapidly deteriorating hearing. I am no longer able to talk on a regular phone so Mandy and I would text a lot in addition to messaging on FB Messenger. Thank you for posting this cause this pretty much says it all….
Thank you, Dan. I’m glad that I was able to say what others have been trying to say as well. In spite of her struggles, she was such an amazing encourager and confidant. She had such huge understanding for life’s struggles; was one of those people who always offered a shoulder, as needed. I’ll keep you in my prayers…that God will fill your heart with something unique and comfortable that helps you through this moment in time. As well, for your medical/physical issues. He does see us. Thanks for chatting here and for your encouraging words.
The lack of comments here is telling. It is a topic no one wants to consider. It makes us feel awkward.
Over ten years ago I lost my 14 year sister to a self inflicted gunshot wound. You quoted me, OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD…
He allowed this. He allows this. His creatures choose death every day. He knows this pain. Now we know a tiny bit of His.
Now I know to not not say something to someone like you who feels this awkward grief. Choosing death is not supposed to happen. He allows it.
Full circle. Big ol’ gaping hole of grief in this circle.
Why does he allow this? That’s the question. He certainly doesn’t want this for his children.
Suicide is a topic nobody wants to consider. It is ugly. Ugly ugly. It’s hard to comprehend and it is exhausting. It shouldn’t BE. People want relief from their struggle, but it just sends out an explosion of toxic spores in every direction when someone chooses death.
God allows so much. His love for her is not dimished by her choice. She chose to go home too soon, but He knew she would.
I’m sorry you now know this pain.
I’m sorry your friend is gone and a chance slipped through your fingers.
She did not slip through His.
“She did not slip through His.” How comforting those words are. While I know this truth, I hadn’t really thought of it as you have. It’s so true that He uses it all. In your case, being able to share with others who face such a tragic loss. It really does create an awkwardness. I”m so sorry for you own loss. Thank you so much for sharing the raw and painful truth of this. But most of all, thank you for words that will comfort many of us.
Wow…my family struggles with depression / suicide… I struggle often ! It has been so hard to do lately and I will miss Mandy so much 💖. I am so sorry for the loss of your sister ! I am so grateful to God for the blessing of Mandy ☺👐
Tami – thanks for being brave enough to share that. I hope that in troubled moments you will first, reach out to God, who is the only One who can fill the holes. But also, to those you know you can trust…who will come along side of you to encourage and point you right back to Him. I’m almost always a few keystrokes away.