This blog posted on Huffington Post on 09-02-15.
My friend is fighting for her life. Prayer requests are going out and prayers are going up. Family members are flying to be by her side. Facebook is lit up with posts of love and support for her and her family.
Words. Prayers. Hope. That’s all we can offer.
This morning I took my usual walk with our dogs around a cemetery at a little Methodist church across the street from our home. My friend is on my mind. I’m remembering we went to a little bar in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, our hometown. We were in high school, maybe 17, certainly not old enough to be there. My friend drank and smoked. I did neither.
The rule-follower loved this rule-breaker and vice versa.
I haven’t seen my friend in years–or talked to her even. Thanks to Facebook, we’ve been in contact, though. I’ve followed her posts–updates about her health challenge, her struggles mixed in with her triumphs. The victories were often small, but she celebrated them anyway.
She’s scrappy, this friend of mine.
I’ve offered words of encouragement. I’ve cheered her on. I’ve told her I love her. I’ve suggested books. I’ve shared uplifting quotes.
We were separated only by distance.
She’s 13 hours from me, lying in a hospital bed. It’s all I can do to not get in my car and drive to her. Instead I walk and talk to her in my head. I tell her I love her. I wish her well, whichever path she takes.
Healing, I’ve learned again and again, isn’t always about living.
Last night I went to the YMCA–my first workout in months. I thought of my friend, thought of the times she posted on Facebook about taking short walks and feeling victorious. My feisty friend was doing her best to say ‘fuck you’ to this disease. She was making the best of the situation.
She was fighting.
On the treadmill, I listened to The Jackson 5, my favorite workout music. Each time I punched the buttons to make the treadmill go faster, the incline steeper, I thought of my friend. She would give anything to be on this treadmill, to have a body that did as it was told.
Friends, my god, we gotta quit our bitching. About our bodies, our country, our world, our mothers and fathers, our children.
If we’ve got bodies and minds that work, we gotta use them for the good.
We’ve got to start doing what we want to do and quit doing what we don’t want to do.
On my morning walk with my pups, I looked at where they were sniffing. At my feet was a bright-yellow butterfly, its wings stretched out against the black asphalt driveway, perfectly beautiful, except that it was dead.
I want my friend to live, but I want her to live only if living is better than dying.