Friday, January 11, 2013

Finally Ready

There's a stirring
In the Throne Room
All creation
Holds its breath

I've been putting off this post for what seems like eternity, but in reality has only been two days. Two very.long.days.
Eighteen months ago, I met a lady named Cathey. We were introduced via a mutual friend and we pretty much hit it off instantly. You see, we had something in common that I didn't really have with anyone else...breast cancer. She was a stage 4 who was in remission when we met, and I was a stage 3 back in treatment. We shared the same oncologist and chemo nurses and lived only a few miles apart.
My first thought after the first time we met was "Lord, I cannot lose another friend to breast cancer. I can't do it. Please don't let us be friends because it will be too painful." Horrible, I know, but in all fairness, I was still greatly grieving the loss of my friend Kate to breast cancer and the wound was still fresh. And then I told myself something really crazy...maybe God wants us to be friends as He wants me to be a witness to her. Maybe God will use me like he did with Kate.
So, we became fast friends and within a few months, she received word that her cancer had spread to her liver and bones. Not good. She immediately started back on chemo that brought her to her death bed and as she told me, she was knocking on the gates of heaven...she felt it was that close. It was the chemo though and they changed it and she proceeded to do really well with the next rounds and her supplementation that she was taking. Soon, the cancer stopped growing and even started "disappearing" on some scans. Great news! Our doctor told her to keep doing what she was doing and she would keep a close check on her.
During this time, Cathey and I had shared lots of intimate times together. She and I would meet for tea at the local coffee shop. I would go to her house to visit some and she came to mine a few times. My kids came to know who "Mrs Cathey" was, David came to know my new friend Cathey from all the stories I shared with him, and I came to greatly love this new friendship. We talked about everything from treatment, research, past times in each of our lives...I picked her brain about marriage and parenting as she was one great role model in those departments. We also talked about our love for Jesus and just how good He always is...no matter what. I often would leave our time together telling myself two things... That I hoped my love for Jesus radiated like hers, and that I hoped my marriage would be that amazing after 34 years like theirs. Just the smile on her face and the sweetness in her voice as she talked about her dear Joe was enough to light up the darkest room.
Several months passed and Cathey's cancer spread to her brain. Radiation, detoxing, and increased supplementation were unfortunately no match for this metastasis this time. Within a few short months, my friend became short of breath and very weak. She was nauseated all of the time it seems and she just wasn't herself. Despite her feeling terrible though, she ALWAYS had a smile on her face...always. And then within a few weeks, she had been hospitalized a few times and was put on oxygen permanently. She was declining at a rapid pace.
Two days ago, on Wednesday, I got word that Cathey had been taken back to Vanderbilt for shortness of breath. I knew it wouldn't be good this time. A few hours later, I got another message that she had been admitted to the palliative care unit...hospice. I cannot even begin to tell you the heart sinking feeling that came over me. From that moment on and for the whole next day, I think I stayed in tears more than not. I had prayed and prayed for God to heal my friend, and now I changed my prayers for God to not allow my friend to suffer but for Him to have great mercy on her and allow her transition to Heaven to be easy and peaceful. To pour down His love and perfect peace upon her husband and children. To overwhelm the nurses caring for her with an extra dose of compassion. I have prayed so much that I no longer even know what to pray so I go to God and let the Holy Spirit intercede.
Well, this morning, as I was showering and getting ready, I realized that I was not put in the Cathey's life for the same reason as I was put into Kate's. My friend Kate was not a believer when we met and had no idea what being a Christ follower really meant.  I was able to tell her about Him on her death bed and she placed her trust in Him. But Cathey was different. She loves Jesus with all her heart and soul and might. She radiated him with every breath she took. To see and know her, was to see and know Jesus as she lived her life after Him. Her faith was strong and resilient - never wavering. She would tell people that yeah, cancer does stink, but she won't have it forever. WOW! What a great attitude and way to look at it. Even as our doctor had the end of life discussion with her on Wednesday, Cathey was able to look at her and tell her that it wasn't the end of life, but the beginning of eternity with Jesus. Still talking about Him even as she was preparing to say goodbye to her family. So what I realized is that the friendship that I so didn't even want to happen didn't happen so that I could influence her, but so that she could influence me. I've been so very blessed to know my sweet friend Cathey and I can't stop thanking God for not letting me run because of fear of losing another friend. It would have been far more sad for me to have never met and befriended her. Far more sad!
So as she is journeying still to her eternal home and getting ever so close, I have to say "I love you Cathey. I thank you for the beautiful picture of Jesus you have been. I cherish the advice and mentorship you provided for me. And I am above all thrilled that you are going to be cancer free soon and sitting at the feet of our sweet Savior, Jesus Christ. I will see you again when it's my turn and being the perfect hostess that you are, I know you will be there to welcome me home with the perfect glass of pomegranate green tea!!!

When the hand that bears the only scars
In heaven touch her face
And the last tears she'll ever cry
Are finally wiped away
As the clouds roll back
And He takes her hand
And walks her through the gates
Forever we will reign

5 comments:

  1. What a beautiful testimony of God's grace as it shined thru Cathey's life! Thank you for writing this.

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  2. Oh, Kelly, so beautifully written. Don't you know there will be great rejoicing when God calls our friend home. My flesh is sad but my spirit soars when I think of standing in the presence of Him who called me to Him. Praying for you! Linda B

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  3. what an amazing relationship and faith. I am a hospice chaplain and so pray for more ladies like you two to know the Lord this closely. you have written a beautiful story here.

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  4. I was friends with Cathey and Joe way back in our college days. She is the most authentic person I know, to this day, and we've only had fb/blogs to stay connected. Thank you for sharing your story. God bless.

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  5. Your blog really said it all about Cathey. I did not know her personally only via another friend, Julie. Your words about her really touched my heart and soul! I, too, will meet and see her AGAIN!

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