“I’ll do it myself!”
And so I did.
Even as I battled through the early years of chronic illness, I could not break free from its hold. Showing up was something I did for you. It was not something you did for me.
But then came the stroke. The high-risk pregnancy. The sudden loss of my Daddy. And lest we not forget, the blessed medical cluster fa la la la of 2015.
Most days, I could barely show up for breakfast much less show up at someone’s door. And in many ways it broke the old me. But in the breaking, grace and love crept quietly in.
Through the hands. Through the hearts. Through the stuff that absolutely sucked.
Oh how they have loved and love me.
I could tell you of countless meals and care for my babies. I could tell you of prayers offered at the foot of my hospital bed. I could tell you of tears that have flowed for my hurt and my pain. I could tell you of the big things and the little things.
I could tell you. I could tell you. I could tell you.
I could tell you about the time she dropped everything and came….
When my Daddy died. When my body was failing. When I just needed to see her face.
I could tell you about the time she held my hand…
When my world felt like the floor was dropping out. When I grieved my Daddy even as she was grieving hers. When my face turned white and my feet turned blue and I could barely make it to the bathroom.
I could tell you about her heart…
The one that broke over the loss of my baby. The one that hurt when she wasn’t here to love me in all the daily. The one that led her to send just the right help at just the right time.
I could tell you so many stories of so many women, some of whom I don’t even know, who showed up for me and graciously continue to do so.
But the thing about traumatic brain injury is that sometimes your brain forgets the details. Okay, not sometimes, A WHOLE HOOT OF A LOT. And that, my dear friends, is where grace steps in…
Because for whatever reason, He has given me the gift to hold on to some very sacred moments with the same precious friend.
The most beautifully hard happened on the day I danced with death. It was nearly four years ago to the day. I had a temperature of 108 when I finally made it to the Emergency Room and was given the diagnosis of septic shock as a result of an incomplete miscarriage.
I had been so consumed by my broken mama heart that I had ignored the signs of sepsis until it was almost too late. Even Nathan had no idea how close I was to death…
But she did.
Even now I can see her walking into my pre-op room, grabbing my hand and not letting go until it was time for surgery. I remember her hug and the kiss on my cheek before she left. And I even recall watching her turn around and wave as she slipped out the door.
Yes, she was my beautiful friend who showed up.
But as a nurse, she also knew what my husband and I didn’t…that it very well could have been our last goodbye.
In many ways, I thought I understood this kind of bravery. But it wasn’t until three years later that I really knew what it took to do what she had done. It happened in the moment I whispered a final goodbye to my precious Daddy, when one little whisper became the hardest thing I’ve had to do this side of Home.
This is the part of showing up that is often left quietly on the shelf. Because when you invite someone into your most sacred and broken places, it isn’t “Hey, I’ve got the scoop on Sara.” It is a brutal and often private love that promises to wade into your story, to stay with you in every hard place, to love you no matter how it ends.
But even so, don’t let your fear of what may come keep you from it.
Because just as I have the picture of my dear friend saying goodbye, I also have one where she is rocking my Maddie-girl and whispering through her tears, “She’s such a little miracle.” My friend’s love had waded deeply into my story, stayed with me in every hard place, no matter the ending. So that when the time came, we could trade mourning for joy, together.
So jump in. Show up. And let others do the same for you.
Because in it…
There is beauty. There is grace. There is love.
But most of all, sweet friends…
There is Jesus.