My last birthday with a “3” in front of it has already came and passed by this year. My neighbor down the road texted me the eve before and asked if I had big plans for my birthday. I stared at that message for way too long, trying to be creative with some fabulous, amazing, and spectacular response. After several attempts at theatrics & wittiness, I just typed out the truth instead.
My plan for tomorrow is just to survive another day.
The response sounded over-dramatic, I agree but during that week I can honestly say the world FELT like it was a spiraling madness and survival the next day WAS all I had planned for the big 3-9. The world of Babylon had been so out of control and consumed by drama I was questioning my own integrity and crazy, never-ending thoughts that week, wondering if I myself was transforming into a loony Babylonian. The long, stress-filled days were running into constant cycles of feeling beaten down, endless, sleepless nights and dread. Oh, and anger….lots and lots of anger just from simply being exhausted.
When I was a child our nightly bedtime prayers routinely started with the classic childhood prayer that most of us have known since before we could remember. It’s a simple prayer, easy to remember, which I have since passed on to my own children.
Obviously as I have grown older my nighttime prayers have become more in-depth, more heart-felt, more personal, more reflective of my adult life and the daily struggles coming and going that we all commonly deal with. It wasn’t until a week ago that I even thought of this simple prayer again.
Last Wednesday, I, my husband, several of our very close friends, and our church family were the recipients of a substantial dose of humbleness in regards to the extreme fragility of human life here on earth. It started like any normal chilly, spring morning with dew glistening on the grass and blue skies, sprinkled with some sunshine on the horizon.
My routine was customary for a work day.
Hit the snooze on my phone till my very last alarm…..check!
Try and convince myself Babylon will not be horrible while sipping the wonderful, luxury called coffee….check!
Start the outside potty rotation process with all my fur babies…..check!
Feed and water seven dogs, one cat, and nine baby chicks…..check!
Attempt to start getting ready for work, only to retreat to the barn instead…..check!
Hang out with the rest of my zoo animals…..check!
Begin attempt #2 of getting ready for work…..check!
That is when the enormous, heavy dose of reality began to unexpectedly crash into what I expected to be a normal day.
My husband called my name in a much louder and more urgent manner than I had heard come from his lips in a very long time. There are no band-aids or beating around the bush in our house so he delivered the news he had just received while I had been outside procrastinating the start to my morning.
Our dear friend, and mother to one of our close friends, had died in her sleep overnight.
The shock was excruciating and I was at a complete loss for words. There were no warning signs, no sickness, no disease, no illness, no explanations.
Our human nature is always to wonder and ask questions when a death occurs, especially in the unexpected circumstances. We ask why a thousand times over and over, and ponder our last interactions with the person who is no longer here. It’s a game we shouldn’t play with ourselves but more often than not we do. The “if onlys” reeked havoc on my brain while driving to Babylon that morning. I couldn’t stop myself from reflecting on the last encounter I was given with my dear, departed friend, just a few short days before her death. I had been so busy with now realized, completely unimportant things and had only given her a few precious seconds of my morning before I ran off to my own life. I’m thankful for my friend Jill, who helped steer my thinking back to the correct course of realizing my friend would have wanted me dwelling on our beautiful, past memories and friendship, not the regrets. And more importantly remembering the hope and joy in knowing her future is now secure.
I desire so deeply to be constantly rooted and grounded in God’s love by such immense measures that it is the anchor of my faith when the unforeseen occurs. We are not promised tomorrow. None of us honestly know the exact moment when we will transition from this life to the next. Whether it’s gradually or suddenly, we do know death WILL overtake us at some moment. My hope for all of us is when that day comes we didn’t end up squandering our time here on earth by living how WE pleased and wasting the opportunities that God presented before us.
Last Sunday during church I listened to so many stories, experiences and words that were shared between my departed friend and many other members of our congregation. I was overjoyed in knowing she was able to touch so many individuals with hugs, simple words and kindness, even if for just a few short seconds herself, before she left us.
The words on the front of my birthday card from my husband this year really touched me. I know he didn’t write them or come up with them himself, but they truly spoke volumes to me because some days we are all just so frenzied by the daily responsibilities, to-do lists, bills, work, laundry piles, dirty dishes, and so many other numerous distractions that we forget to stop, even if just for a few precious seconds, to tell others what they genuinely mean to us.
Did you say the words lately? The words that our hearts constantly yearn and long to hear? The words that really matter in the bigger picture when we are conversing and interacting with one another every day. The words that are so very, very needed, even when we are busy, drained, stretched beyond our means, and routinely living out our lives like any normal, hectic day?
“I love you”
“Your existence matters”
“I see you”
“You are special to me”
“I am so thankful for you in my life”
I am consciously working hard right now at making sure the people who are special to me understand how I feel about them and what they mean to me. I want them to know and hear that I love them. I’m urging you friends, to stop and do the same this week, even if it costs you a few extra precious moments of your time.
I will forever miss my friend. I will miss sitting next to her at church every Sunday in the pew we have shared for several years, hearing her laugh, listening to her stories and having her encouragement in my life on a weekly basis. I will miss hearing her say “Well hello Miss Mandi, and how are you doing today?” which were the first words out of her mouth every time we saw each other. But I trust that some day I will be able to see her again, so until that day comes I will keep on remembering that God is still waking me up for a reason here.