I’m sitting at work, feeling sad, drinking coffee, and blaming God. A good friend died this morning, and it’s making me mad when I think about it.
She was a young mother with a loving husband and an adorable little boy. The ugliness of cancer entered, and eventually the treatments and side effects and all the other stuff took her away. She was more than that co-worker. She was a sister. A friend. A comrade in lunacy. A fan of They Might Be Giants, and a fan of many in the alternative music scene. And she was pale. Lord, she was a pale woman in search of a tan instead of some sunburn.
And now I speak of her in the past tense. It makes me feel lost and tired.
As a Christian, I believe in the hope of the resurrection. But I don’t just ‘believe’, I know. And I don’t just ‘sense’, I know. But it doesn’t get God off the hook. He took her, and now she’s not here anymore.
And even at this moment, my heart breaks for her family. They loved her and cared for her during her long, long illness. We all prayed, and we prayed a lot. My mom even prayed, and she’s a very good prayer person. If God was going to hear a prayer, I was certain mom would be able to get through.
I sit now and wonder if He heard at all. Was He ever going to do anything to help her? But on this day, her last one here, it seems He didn’t answer. He didn’t do what I and many others wanted done. And it hurt a lot.
When Julie went in for treatment, she had an e-mail list set up where she would send friends updates describing her treatments, many tinged with humor and hope. She talked about the people she ran into, her platelet count, her frustrations, and her hope. And often she would end her notes like this:
“I truly do appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers as I continue on this journey. Its days like today that I really feel them hold me up when I have trouble holding myself up.”
So when I start to wonder if He heard, I know He did. I see the evidence. Throughout her extended illness and treatment, I saw a hope that was beyond what we have built in.
But I still blame Him. And though I often hear “It’s God’s will” or “It was just her time,” the comfort seems fleeting because she’s just not around anymore. I want to be angry at someone. I want to be angry about the cancer. I want to be angry at doctors. I want to be angry at…
And God so easily comes to mind, because we really like to blame Him for so many things that are beyond our control. And then we turn around and believe He doesn’t exist. Or we praise Him even in an hour of darkness. Or we ignore Him.
Truth is I can’t ignore Him, being an omnipresent God and all. And I don’t understand Him, though I know he provides so much for all of us daily. And I wish I knew what He was thinking, but I believe to know the mind of God is to be God. I can’t put myself and God’s mind and say “This is how things are going to be- nothing tragic will happen from this day forward. No accidents. No cancer. No murder. No sorrow. No nothing.” If that happened under my plan, I guess we’d never have free will. I guess we’d be masters over our own DNA. I guess we’d all live in Iowa. Aren’t you glad I’m not God? I know I am.
I hate death and what it does to those who are touched by it. Death is the one feature of being a human I’m not too crazy about, all that sorrow and pain. But I’m built with it, and unless you’re immortal, you’re built with it too. It’s how He made us.
But there is joy, friend. It was a joy to know Julie. A privilege to know her humor. A wonderful thing to see her laugh or smile. These are good things among many that I have been witness to. She was a blessing.
Today, hug your spouse, your kids, your boss, your co-workers, your parents, your dog, your cat (even though cats often find that type of attention disconcerting). Hug them and know that blessings are everywhere and provided by God Himself. These are the riches of life.
I’m not really keen on her not being here, but I do know about the resurrection. When you put it in an eternal perspective, she’ll only be gone for a short while.
I miss you, Julie girl. But I will see you again.
Julie is forever 42.