God has chosen me for a job in this life. I'm not sure why He picked me. I certainly have no more qualifications than the next mom. And I know lots of people with faith, so why me? At this point, that question is not important to me. I only know there will be heartbreaking, beautiful, God seeking experiences for me as I travel this road. This week is one of them.
Sunday night I could not sleep. I haven't had a night like that in a very long time. I awoke about 12:30 a.m. and rest eluded me for the next 5 hours. The usual techniques were attempted, but found my mind wanted to race, I wrote about a similar night 31 years ago. I recalled with joy another sleepless night, the journey of labor and delivery of my only daughter, Kathy.
I was able to take a nap about 5:30.
A few hours later the phone called my name and I happily greeted the caller. My jovial manner was inhaled for another time after Julie, a sister of a dear friend gave me the news of a passing of a life. Emily, Bill and Ann's daughter had left our world. Emily, age 31, the same age as my own daughter. Emily, with her beautiful walnut colored locks and brilliant pearly white teeth was gone. A perfect blend of ebony and ivory surrounded her porcelain skin. Unfortunately, lurking beneath the surface for this lovely woman was the gnarled fingers of mental illness. It had snaked itself way through her personality until almost all of the old Emily we knew was hidden. Emily wanted to fit in, to be a good mom, a trusted employee, but her brain disorder continued to beat her down. Beneath a mind trying desperately to be a part of our world, was a silent invader. A demon we could not physically see with a simple glance or a blood test, continually picked away at her strength and happiness.
Early Monday morning I wrote about the joy I received as I embraced the gift of my daughter, Kathy. Meanwhile my friends entered the nightmare of returning their daughter, Emily, back to her creator. Every parent's worst fear had come to pass for them. Anyone with a beloved child who suffers a devastating illness visits the scene at some time in their journey, but tucks it away under 'please, may it never be me.'
I planned to go them, Ann and Bill, when I closed shop yesterday. But the Holy Spirit continued to prod me until I sent my helper home, snapped the dead bolt to lock the entrance, flipped the sign to closed and rushed to their side. My heart broke as I held Ann while our sorrows melded together. I embraced my friends with my arms, hands, eyes, heart, mind, and spirit in the name of Jesus over the few hours I spent in their home. I let the stories of Emily, both the painful and wonderful, sink into my being. A true friend is a gift from God. I can be that for my friends, Ann and Bill. I can never really know the pain they are experiencing. I can never understand why a beautiful child of God has to endure the scourge of mental illness. I only know I can go to the families that are affected. God has given me the gift of compassion, the gift of listening, and holding the hurting. The Holy Spirit comes to me daily to give me the words these fragile souls hunger to hear spoken aloud. The Holy Spirit guides me to embrace the hurting, to put myself in their shoes if even for a few moments.
Why me? Why were we, two ordinary women, given a ticket into the world of mental illness? This is a question Ann and I asked together. We didn't find the answer, but we both know, we will take the assignment and rely on our God to give us the strength, love, patience and understanding we need to complete the task.