John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” The longer I live, the more I know it to be true. Sometimes “what happens” is exciting and even better than our youthful dreams, but more often, life brings unexpected disappointments and even loss.
I recently spent the weekend with a childhood friend whose family has faced more personal tragedy than anyone should have to bear. Sherry’s son passed away at age 25 after suffering more than ten years with a rare genetic disorder that slowly robbed him of the ability to move and speak. Shortly afterwards, her husband began a prolonged physical battle, which he lost. Then her parents’ health began to decline, and her father died. Now her mother is disappearing into Alzheimer’s.
|Sherry and her three grandchildren,
Emma, Reilly & Halle
Although we live five hours apart, we’ve stayed in touch. Over the years, I’ve been amazed by Sherry’s courage and the grace with which she has handled each ordeal. She has always been matter of fact about their circumstances but never dwelt on their sorrow. Instead, Sherry usually found something funny or positive to share and expressed sincere interest in what was going on with the rest of us.
During this visit, we talked about her losses and how she is learning to live alone for the first time in her life. Sherry said there had been times when she thought she couldn’t bear what was happening, but she made it through because of her faith and the support of family and friends. In visiting with her daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren and some of the friends who’ve walked through these things with Sherry, I caught a glimpse of the love, joy and strength that sustained them all through those difficult times.
This courageous company reminds me of a little clump of flowers I once saw growing out of rocky ground. The surroundings looked too dry and rough to sustain life, yet the blossoms stretched upward with their faces toward the sun. That’s how I see my friend, always abloom, even in the harshest conditions. Someday soon, I hope Sherry and crew will be transplanted to a lush garden. But in the meantime, her beautiful spirit will bless others, wherever she may be!