Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Comfort of Friends

"The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me..."  
2 Timothy 1:16 (KJV)

I sat by Mom's bedside in ICU, exhausted beyond measure.
It had been a grueling, long period of ups and downs.
One minute, we thought things were looking up.
The next, we were in the depths of despair.

I felt I needed a break...from watching the monitor...every few seconds.
Her heart was erratic.
Every so often, her heart would go into a very irregular pattern, and the alarm would blare a loud, annoying sound.
There isn't too many things that are worse than sitting in ICU in suspense and anxiety for days on end, with no hope of a change or relief in sight.
I was SO tired and weary and downhearted.
My nerves felt like they would give way.
But, I didn't want to leave her.
I was afraid if I did, something terrible would happen, and I would never forgive myself.
So, I stayed.

"Dear God, please help us all" was about all I could manage to eke out when I would pray.

I pulled the recliner chair close to her an angle where I could see her and the monitor at the same time.
I half-way reclined and dared to close my eyes....if I could just sneak in a few winks of sleep, I would feel so much better.

I had just relaxed when I heard someone coming...walking into the room.
I looked up.
As Paul prayed in today's passage, may the Lord give mercy to the house of the dear friends who have stood by me and my family through all of this ordeal.

My dear, loyal encourager and precious friend, Dale, walked in to the room.

I didn't even know she was coming.
It was still early morning.
She hadn't slept a wink the night before....then I had tell her Mom was real bad.
She had dropped everything and driven the long distance to be there with I wouldn't be alone.
Seeing her was like a breath of fresh air.

How oft she has refreshed me!

She sat with me for hours on end that day....until late that night...she stayed.
She wouldn't give up.
She wouldn't leave my despair.
She relieved me by taking Zachary outside to get some fresh air.
She knew how I worried about him....being there for such long periods....many times sitting in the waiting room...alone.
She sat with Mom while I took her son, who is also Zach's best friend in the world, and Zachary out to eat and to the get them...and me...out of there for a while.
She loved Mom...dearly.
She was grieving, too.

Later that evening, her husband missed work and came and joined us.
That was the night Mom was very coherent, off the BiPap, and able to talk to all of us.
Her room was crowded with family and friends, but the nurses didn't seem to mind.
We all laughed and enjoyed each other so much.
Being surrounded with the love of friends and family felt like being wrapped in a warm quilt.
Memories of that night will linger with me for a very long time.

Mom was so funny, telling us about all of her adventures.
Several things were mixed together in her mind.
She thought she had been on a huge adventure.
In reality, she had.
That was the evening after her morning of partially crossing over.

She told of things she had seen and heard and experienced.
We all listened and were amazed.
I don't know if I could ever put all of it into words.

Today, I sat and looked at the stack of beautiful cards I have received from precious, loving friends.

Friends who care...some of them have walked this road...and truly understand.

Some who are preparing themselves to walk they face aging parents with failing health.

Some have not yet walked it, but they empathize and have deep concern...just the same.

I am so very, very blessed.
To have such wonderful friends and family and loved ones.
Who have taken their time and energy to reach out to sincere and genuine.

I am so thankful to each one who is so faithful to email, send cards, call, and reach out to me in so many caring and loving ways.

My dear friend, Priscilla, has faithfully emailed every, single day......sometimes more than once a day, throughout this entire painful and most difficult time.
Her daily, regular words of encouragement and comfort have strengthened me more times than I could ever say.

How oft she has refreshed me!

I was so surrounded by love and kindness during the funeral process, being there with so much of my family and those who truly care.
It was difficult to come back and face reality and life...without being in the presence of so many who love so deeply.
Hence, the cards, emails, and other contacts mean ever so much more.

So many are faithful to see me through....forgive me for failing to take time to mention every one individually.  I fear that I will leave someone out or forget to mention them...and every, single act of kindness has been noticed and greatly appreciated.

It takes effort and energy and resources to faithfully reach out and show love.

The Apostle Paul was human.  He needed comfort.
He said Onesiphorus oft refreshed him.
Onesiphorus was a true and faithful friend.
He didn't just reach out to Paul when it was convenient.
Or when he could gain something from the exchange.
Or when it was on his where he was already going.
Paul said that Onesiphorus was not ashamed of his chain.
He didn't mind getting involved.
He took a risk to be Paul.
It didn't deter him that Paul wasn't the best of company....that he wasn't in the most desirable condition.
He cared go beyond all of that....and be the friend Paul needed.

Paul said that when he was in Rome, Onesiphorus sought him out very diligently, and found him.
Onesiphorus was bound and determined to minister to Paul.
He knew Paul was troubled and distressed and an unfamiliar place.
Paul needed encouragement.
He needed solace.
He needed to know that someone cared...about him...and his needs.

Verse 18 says, "Th Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day:  and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well."

It wasn't just in Rome, but also in Ephesus, that Onesiphorus was determined to be a friend to Paul.

How thankful I am for those who dare to be a friend...even when I am not in the best place.
Even when I have no encouragement to offer back.
Even when I am overwhelmed and surrounded with such darkness.
They reach beyond it...they bring such my broken heart.

I say along with the Apostle Paul,
"May each of them find mercy of the Lord in that day."

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