My best friend is having a major health scare.What started out as possible fluid in her inner ear, for which she was treated with antihistamines, is now considered something much more serious. It has already involved many uncomfortable tests and procedures.No doubt there will be many more.There will be surgery, a hospital stay, a lengthy recovery time.There will be post –op visits, more tests to see if things are OK and regular uncomfortable tests from here on out.
Throughout this whole ordeal so far she has been calm, resolute, brave – the epitome of grace. Always the teacher, her response to a tense diagnosis has been hopeful and optimistic. She is, just by being her beautiful serene self, teaching all of her family, friends and students how best to meet adversity. Head on. With a strong heart. And, perhaps surprisingly – with gratitude. She has already told me several times how this had made her grateful for her life, for her family and friends. And for me.
So many people who have known her and found out about this episode have called, sent wonderful cards, letters and emails. When I read them, I tear up. Because it’s all true. She has changed lives. Personally and professionally. This world is a better place for the way she has touched so many.
And so she has been grateful for this problem – because folks who might have carried on and known her loving touch, her wise council, her easy laugh and sparkling eyes – might not have shared their beautiful appreciations.
I called to have some questions answered about insurance. The woman on the other end of the phone answered all of my questions clearly and carefully. She wanted to be sure that if there was any way at all that she could help to please call back and ask for her. I said I would. And I thanked her for her concern. Before we rung off she said there was one more thing. “Would it be OK for me to put Miss Heidi on my prayer list?” I was humbled by her spontaneous outpouring of faith and love for a stranger. I only had a minute before my students came back from PE. But I had to wipe my eyes and take a few deep breaths before I could greet them at the door.
When I get into that quiet space to pray, often as I lie in bed well before dawn, before the alarm goes off, when I can hear her soft, steady breathing, and we are touching beneath the covers – my prayers are those of gratitude. Of course I am grateful for my sons and my siblings and our beautiful home in the woods. I am grateful for my vocation, which I love, and for my friends. But what I am most grateful for is the presence of this good woman in my life and the love we have shared for all these many years (36 by my reckoning). And I am grateful for the many years to come.