I was truly blessed to be a part of a crazy adventure last weekend. Sadly, the occasion was the death of a dear friend’s dad. He had leukemia and had been suffering for several weeks at the hospital, about 5 hours south of where we live. She was with him during a majority of that time. She is a social person, organizing annual and monthly events to bring our community of friends together to play games or just enjoy company.
We had decided we’d do what we could to be there for her. Unfortunately, her birthday fell on the Saturday before the visitation and two days before the funeral. Most of us were not able to stay beyond the weekend. But we got up early, leaving at 6am on Saturday, to drove the 5-plus hours to southern Illinois, where she and others in our group had grown up, to surprise her on her birthday. Thankfully, I was exhausted from a week of going to bed at 1am or later while Matt was in China all week and had help from a glass of wine to relax and fall asleep at about 9:30. (I knew I had a problem but didn’t realize how bad it was! I have no mechanism for telling myself it’s time for bed unless he’s around!) I was also blessed by another friend who was unable to travel but blessed all of us by taking the kids for two nights to make it possible for me to go.
My friend was stunned to tears with the presence of 7 close friends who drove from Chicago just to support and encourage her. But the best part was that she beamed for the rest of the day. We joined her for lunch at a Chinese buffet, then drove to the St. Louis Zoo (which was a great zoo especially for the price: free!). It was hot as all get out, but she loves the sun and being outdoors so she was happy and we tried to keep the complaining to a minimum. lol After a dinner in, we visited the infamous “World’s Largest Catsup Bottle” as the sun went down and took pictures to capture the day. Finally, I rode home with a friend who had to be home by Sunday morning. We had a hard time saying good-bye (and were both having difficulty navigating out of town) so by the time we left it was 9:30 that night. Matt had arrived home while I was gone and was waiting for me when I finally got in at 3:30am. It was a looooong day, but worth every minute. Some were able to stay the night and go to the visitation on Sunday and I know they were an encouragement to her and the family during a difficult day. I do feel a little bad that I was there for the fun day and missed out on the hard day, but I know we were a tremendous blessing to her in a time of sorrow. It makes me thankful every day for the loving friends God provided for us here. That’s what they call “doing life together.”