Anne asked me. Said she needed me to come.
Her past few phone messages in my voicemail sounded different—not quite desperate but certainly bold in expressing her request.
“I need to see you.”
Five strong words.
Does a new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s do this to a person? When you’re 69? Do you suddenly wonder how long you’ll have before your world closes in on you and you even forget those you hold most dear? Do you become more desperate for connection, then?
We go back quite aways, Anne and me . . .
She’s one of my dearest friends, her quirky humor matching mine, her love of God an inspiration.
We find ourselves doing crazy things as if we’re Peter Pan kids, never growing up, laughing even years later when remembering our antics . . .
Like the time we bought matching, leopard-print, magnetic-clasp purses on a trip to Chicago and found them bound together in our hotel room on one of the beds and then acting like we’re bound together magnetically forever at the hip, sister-friends that we are. Knowing. We are . . .
That’s when we started planning.
We started planning our “room with a view” . . .
You know, that room we’re going to get for eternity with our best bud that has the view we all want?
Yeah, you know.
Climate-controlled and all.
And we’ll also have as many rooms with as many best buds as we want. (Don’t know exactly how that will happen, but hey, it’s Heaven and, with God, all things are possible, dontcha know?!)
For our double-occupancy room, Anne and I have already picked out our colors (aqua, purple, apricot, colors of the sea and sky at sunset), our chosen our fabrics (everything luscious to the touch because we’re so TACTILE, dontcha know?), our window treatments (light and airy, because nothing heavy and dark belongs in Heaven!). And a mini-fridge filled with the finest (Dove Bars, Anyone?!)
We can’t yet decide if we want an oceanfront view or cityscape studded with diamonds . . .
Maybe we’ll go for a corner room and get one of each—with a balcony—of course. We’re still working on that piece of this eternal puzzle . . .
So when she asked me seriously to come, I couldn’t say no.
My husband and I booked our flights to Florida—five days away last week, starting the day our thermometer on the farm in Wisconsin plunged to -2.
Within a few hours, we walked out of the Ft. Myers airport into a sunny 78.
Anne and I hugged long and magnetic, like that magnetic purse hug, not wanting to pull ourselves apart at the airport.
And then we did. We looked into each others’ blue eyes, and smiled a knowing non-verbal smile—an I’ll-be-with-you-to-the-end-and-beyond-because-you’re-THAT- kind-of-friend smile. Those are the moments when tears well in gratitude for the great gift God gives us here on Earth—emotional intimacy where one has no fear because grace binds souls together.
Anne. Means “full of grace”. Overflowing, my Anne is.
We walked to the car where our guys–one in his sixties, one in his seventies–sat in front seats so we girlfriend-sisters could catch up in the back, having not seen each other in six months. We headed to our friends’ island home where Bob serves Anne’s needs sacrificially, lovingly, without complaint,
I wondered how long? I wondered how fast? Her memory is worsening, it seemed to me. She didn’t remember, two days after, that we had walked white sand beaches twice.
Yet, she still knows me well, my forever sister-friend Anne. Didn’t take long for me to look straight in her clear blue eyes, framed by her silvered hair, and ask . . .
“So how are you dealing with your Alzheimer’s diagnosis?”
I do that.
I don’t ignore or pretend or circle around the tender for fear of trespassing and getting caught in a glance that broadcasts, “How dare you!?”
I want to get under skin and into heads. I want to penetrate hearts, getting to the marrow of people. I can deal with anything anyone can tell me. There’s no sin so heinous, no pain too painful. And it’s not because I’ve been trained as a clinical psychologist and have sat in front of hundreds pouring their pain.
It’s because I’ve been trained by life.
And my life coach is Christ.
He holds my shaking hands and opens my quivering lips and pours through my believing heart because He has poured Himself into every gaping would I’ve had.
Why do I keep digging, risking, soul-treading wondering?
Because Jesus risked EVERYTHING for ME.
Because Jesus suffered with us and for us.
So I ask her how she’s coping and she says, “I have Jesus. I’m in His hands.”
And she is at peace, though her mind is not what it once was.
I find myself most at home with those at peace in their soul spaces. I find myself grateful for those who know their need of Christ, right now.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)
I’ve seen a holy softening—a tulle veil softening that comes from the sufferings of life.
More and more, I can see Jesus in Bob and Anne. More and more Jesus.
And isn’t that what our lives ought to be all about?
At the end of the day—or the life—ought we not to be reflecting NOTHING but JESUS?
We flew to Florida and basked in 80-degree sun on sand beaches whiter than snow.
We pole-boated through cypress trees where rain water created shallow streams, clear to the bottom.
We photographed birds and alligators, orchids and bromeliads, long strap and resurrection ferns, the ferns that brown and die until life-giving rain comes again and greens.
Just. Like. Us.
Over and over.
Cyclical, dependent creatures we are.
To let Jesus take us and make us malleable in His hands–Lord, let it be!
Anne and me. We’re connected for eternity. In Christ. And so are our husbands—those sacrificial souls who care for their wives as Christ cares for us all.
Come what may, God will continue to reveal Himself to us in grace-filled friends, living side-by-side with us on this mix of misery and ecstasy planet—Heaven and Hell combined–until Christ comes again. And then . . .
Anne and I will cross the threshold to our eternal room with a view. That room filled with all who know their eternal need of our Savior, Jesus. And we will be awed not by the view of anything or anyone more than JESUS, who gave us the room to grow, to become filled with the LIGHT and LIFE that is to be found in none other but HE who died for US, so that WE might live ETERNALLY, permanently, with HIM who is our all—in—all.
There’s nothing more spectacular than Jesus. No room with a view can compare to the loveliness of His face.
All bird photographs are the gift of Bob, Anne’s talented, devoted husband. So grateful for his contribution to today’s post.