This week has not been a good one…..with Hannah regressing and the holidays approaching….well, it just hasn’t been what I had hoped for in terms of peaceful and easy. We have so much going on in our lives (so much I have not divulged on my blog or Facebook, as the time isn’t right), but so much that has me stressed, anxious, excited, worried, frustrated and at times not knowing if I should scream out in joy or frustration.
Yesterday, as I meandered through my day like a zombie, it hit me what today was when I glanced at my calendar and saw the date of November 25th. That date will always be remembered as one of the saddest days of my life. Today, 3 years ago, I lost my best friend Angie to Stage 4 breast cancer. A disease she bravely fought for 4 long years. A disease that ultimately infected most of her body and took her from us. A disease that cares nothing about your age, race, how many kids you have, your career, education, religion or political stance. A disease that takes your quality and quantity of life away and for some people, takes your life. A horrible disease that affects not only the individual suffering from it, but their family, friends and loved ones.
I watched my dear, dear friend suffer horrendously. I watched her sweet parents, husband, children, brother and family grieve for her and watch knowing there was nothing they could do to help her. She had so many other people…..co-workers, children she taught, church family and friends who prayed for her and helped the best they could with things, but still knowing it wasn’t enough. Watching someone you love suffer is heart wrenching and there are no words, no actions and no deeds (except prayer) that truly help.
Through it all though…..I watched Angie. I watched her smile through her pain. I watched her do for others in spite of her own circumstances. I watched her laugh, love, and exude joy in the midst of her difficulties. She cracked jokes, allowed others to cry on her shoulder, helped others through their trials and did it all with joy as she walked through her 4-year long cancer journey. Even toward the end, she cared more about everyone else than she did herself. She wanted to make sure everyone else was okay and told us all the night before she went to Heaven…..”don’t cry for me.” As I stood by her hospital bed the night before the Lord called her home surrounded by our best friends, Misti and Whitney and Angie’s sweet family and friends; I was amazed at Angie’s strength, her concern for everyone else and her peace. She knew it was almost over. She knew that soon the pain would be gone. She knew that soon she would meet her Savior face-to-face. She knew that one day we would all be united again. She didn’t want us to cry for her, even though so many of us have and continue to. She reflected Jesus her whole life, but those 4 long painful, horrendous, cancerous years; she reflected Him with grace, mercy, kindness, patience, humility, peace and a strength I didn’t know anyone could possibly possess. I have never and probably will never again see that kind of beautiful testimony from anyone walking a journey like God asked her to walk. I know without a doubt why God allowed Angie to walk the road she did. He knew she was the only one who could do it and rejoice in His goodness and His grace the entire time. So many of us (certainly me) fail every.single.day. We (I) have pity parties and say “why me God,” and have difficulties finding joy through our circumstances. Not Angie…..she found joy, she exuded grace and she found her healing, exactly the way God wanted her to. It isn’t the way those of us left behind wanted and for the record it isn’t what Angie personally wanted either……but God used a precious and devoted woman, daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend to tell a story that only she could tell exactly the way God needed her to. No one has touched me more than Angie Bowden Murray. No one has shown me Jesus the way she did for 40 years. She allowed our Lord to write her story and she played her part with more grace and love than anyone ever could have.
I miss you my dear friend…..today and always…..until we meet again! As I told you the night before you left us…..”This isn’t goodbye, this is I will see you soon, my friend.”