A Good End

I've alluded to a friend of mine on this blog, one I've known since college days at my old Church. She was mentally ill so it was a challenging friendship - often extremely painful as the years flipped by. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer too late and it spread to her lungs, then to her whole body. She died yesterday in hospice care.

As I type this evening, I can see two patches of dusk sky through windows to my left. I know Heaven is elsewhere, but I keep looking, imagining her right past those soft pink clouds, cracking a joke. Though her brain was askew, I know with confidence she was a Christian. I wish to God I could've seen the look on her face when first she saw Jesus with her healthy brain and body. At different times today as I sorted memories, I could almost see her new facial expressions - free of mental darkness, free of confusion, and in fact, free.

Yet still, I am sad. As with any loved one who dies, you always ache for just one more time to say that one last thing you never said. I wish I could apologize for losing my temper that one night. But last year she and I had a good phone conversation. She only turned weird toward the end; before that we chatted about her health, she spoke of Heaven, we talked about books, and we laughed. I thank God for that phone call. I didn't have that one last time in person, but I do think she knew I loved her, whether her brain was firing strong or weak.

She was funny, maybe one of the funniest people I've known - in that silly, guaranteed-a-good-belly-laugh kind of way. She loved books and shared her favorites with me. She urged everyone she met to read the Bible. Her favorite cake was Tres Leches. She fiercely debated theology and politics. She loved a good haircut, and she had great hair. We shared the same birthday; she was exactly one year younger than me - 31.

I've been listening to Waterdeep's new album lately, almost nonstop. When I heard about her death, their folksy-triumphant song "Good, Good End" came to mind (currently playing on Waterdeep's MySpace):

You can leave right now
You can ring a bell
You can tell ‘em you think I ain’t doin’ too well
But when I stood like you
I eventually fell
So you can leave right now
Go on and ring your bell

I’m amazed by life
And it’s amazed by me
We’re a strange old pair - me and eternity
It don’t make good sense
It ain’t easy to see
But I’m amazed by life
And it’s amazed by me

It’s a long hard road
With a good, good end
And if I keep on walking on past the crooked bend
I will meet my Maker
I will meet my Friend
It’s a long hard road
With a good, good end

In one early blog entry I mentioned a dream I had of Heather in 2004. "That night I dreamed a scene: my friend swinging on a tree swing. It was a tall tree in a dimly lit forest. I was standing below, watching her. She just stared ahead, and kept swinging. She swung higher and higher, back and forth. So high that I was concerned. I called out, 'Hey, you better stop. You are swinging too high.' She either did not hear me or was ignoring me, much like real life. Then something bad happened. I guess she fell off or jumped, but I don't know if she did this while swinging forward or backward. I may never know."

Now I know. The bad was cancer, she jumped on a forward swing, and it was a good, good end.


Christine said...

Ok, that made me cry. Beautiful.

kierstin said...

beautiful post, Jenni. a sweet and fitting rememberence.

clairestrebeck said...

i do not know her, but that is a beautiful memoir.

amy said...

what a lovely post. gracious, i had tears in my eyes too!