I have a friend of 50 years who is in the final stages of cancer. We’ve laughed and cried a lot in those years. Her two kids are slightly older than our two. She’s one husband ahead of me — the first one just didn’t work out. When we met, we were new in the town of Hesston and hadn’t even adopted our children yet. We were directly across the street — neighbors. They were members of our church, and I discovered Laura had an angelic voice as if she’d taken lessons for years. (She’d never had any and didn’t recognize how beautiful her voice was!) My husband and I talked her into the two of us playing guitar and leading singing for a few songs together for our Sunday evening church services. She always said she was too shy and could never do anything like that but she did!
One day, shortly after we adopted our baby boy, I was giving him his bath. Husband Bob was gone. The phone rang. Laura yelled, “Cherri, come quick! Right Now!” Thinking she was seriously hurt, I wrapped the baby in a towel and ran across the street. She met me at her door, whisked the naked baby out of my arms, “There’s a mouse!” she yelled as she hopped, with him in arms, onto the piano bench.
“What?” I asked, confused.
“You know I’m scared of mice! It’s in the house. Nobody’s home. You’ve got to kill it!”
I started to laugh. She remained firmly on the piano bench. “How shall I do that?”
“There’s a croquet mallet in the garage.”
So I brought it inside and began scouting for a fast-moving, tiny creature. On my hands and knees, I ran him down and pummeled him with the mallet. Knowing how petrified she was, I made sure it was very dead before I removed it to her trash can in the garage.
Laura’s older daughter’s birthday is in January. One year there was a huge blizzard — school’s canceled — no traffic moving anywhere. There was supposed to be a birthday party at school. I thought, “How sad!” So I got markers and large sheets of paper, and the kids and I, in banner-style, made and taped on the picture window facing the street: HAPPY BIRTHDAY
They wrote back: THANK YOU
We then wrote: SORRY ABOUT YOUR PARTY
Then: TOMORROW IS OK!
Our family loved to ride into peach orchards on a wagon to pick the ripe fruit off the trees. Then we’d prepare and freeze lots of peaches. One summer I wasn’t feeling well but we got the peaches picked. The next day the ER doctor told me I had pneumonia and admitted me to the hospital.
Bob’s reaction was HELP! Laura took care of the kids until his parents could get there (two hour drive), then he and Laura prepared 1-1/2 bushels of peaches while grandma and grandpa babysat.
Long before the peach escapade, Laura and I had decided since neither of us had a sister, we were now sisters. It had nothing to do with mutual relatives and everything to do with love. That connection still remains even though we’re apart (we moved away after eight years). My kids still call her Aunt Laura.
A plucky lady of strong Christian beliefs, she identifies with butterflies and the stages of life they go through. For Laura, now as death approaches, the butterfly becomes more significant as a symbol of the Christian hope in the resurrection.
I urge you to develop one or more friendships so they can help you play the guitar and sing, overcome shyness or do your peaches for you when you’re ill. And you can help cheer them up in a snowstorm and even KILL THAT DARN MOUSE!