Have you ever met someone that you just knew you were supposed to meet? Have you felt a connection to that person that goes beyond just a normal friendship? Now, let me clarify. I am not referring to a sort of “love” connection or anything at all of that sort. I’m referring to someone who may be your friend, co-worker, or acquaintance that you just never have to speak to but when you do, you just feel a sense that the extent of your acquaintance to this person goes beyond what you feel with other friends. You can actually sense the reason you are supposed to have met.
I have a friend like this. Someone I met about 3 years ago. She started as a co-worker who eventually became my friend. She and I didn’t see each other outside of work much, but we talked, shared, and comforted one another. About 18 months ago her dad got sick. He was in and out of the hospital and required several different medical procedures. During this whole process, I watched her highs and lows. I watched her reactions to phone calls she received about his progress. I watched her cry and quietly deal with her father’s struggles as life went on around her. And more and more, her situation with her father weighed on my spirit. I couldn’t understand how someone could handle dealing with all that her father had been through. And why was all of this trauma happening to someone so good?
I remember the day when she told me that Hospice was called in for him. And I remember holding back my tears. I did not know this man, but I knew his daughter and, for unknown reasons, I was empathizing more than I do with just any friend. I couldn’t help it. How tough would it be to watch your father die? I couldn't even begin to understand.
Through all of this, I did what I could – send her little quotes or jokes or songs, just to try to lift her spirits. And, at the very least, momentarily take her mind off of her ailing dad. After all, even though her dad wasn’t doing well, life still goes on and she still had to come to work most days. I felt terrible for her. I felt it in my bones. And there was nothing anyone could do to make her feel better – It’s the circle of life. But that doesn’t make it any easier.
This went on, day after day, for what felt like several weeks. I remember one evening, June 17, 2014, my partner and I had sat down to watch some TV and chat after dinner when I received a few texts from my friend. The texts were long and she was expressing the pain she was dealing with. I started crying as I read them, learning more about the toll that her father’s suffering was taking on her. I told my partner that when something happens to my parents I hope its quick so that they don’t suffer, and because I didn't think I would be strong enough to handle all that my friend was going through. I distinctly remember this conversation.
The very next day I was on break at work and my friend was telling me that she had talked to her dad the night before, while still under the care of hospice, and got confirmation - from him - that he was ready to go. This broke my heart down. I felt for her. Yet, what she was truly feeling, I could not understand, as I still had my dad and, in fact, had just talked to him! As my break was ending, I assured her that Jesus was sitting bedside for her dad and that he was in good hands. I gave her a hug and went back to work, carrying the weight of our conversation.
About 15 minutes later I learned that my own father had a massive heart attack, was in the hospital, and the prognosis was not good. It was not long before he was in the care of hospice himself and I found myself in the same situation as my friend. Now I could fully understand what she was feeling.
While very different situations, we both lost our dads within 4 days of one another. I cannot help but think that God was preparing me – with all of those quotes, songs and thoughts that I had sent my friend, I would also helping myself…I just didn’t know it at the time. And I didn’t know that Jesus would be sitting bedside for my dad, too.
Just one more example of a non-coincidence. Life isn't guaranteed. And every situation that someone is in is one that you could, one day, find yourself in, too. Judging a person's situation is not an option. Love your friends and cherish them. You never know what their purpose in your life is.