Caring for a Dying Friend

by Oct 11, 2011Cancer, Illnesses, Terminal, Wisdom

Editor’s Note: the following poem was written by Karen Mulder’s friend Ruth, who attends church with Karen.

My Friend

My friend
Mayo Clinic
Devastating news:
Surgery to remove pancreas, spleen and a portion of the liver.
“O Lord, my friend is very ill.
Grant me the wisdom and the strength
to walk this road with her.”
It began with a promise to be there.
She is so brave; so beautiful.
Always there is laughter.
Three more surgeries. Three years.
Teaching is her life, her joy.
Children her love.
She returns to it valiantly, always positive.
I am in awe of her determination,
True grit,
How do I fulfill my promise to you, friend?
I listen.
I pray quietly, constantly.
I watch.
I watch for signals.
When to enter, to help.
Then to quietly support her from afar.
I push sometimes.
I am rebuffed.
“Lord, help me to listen more carefully.”
I pray.
I weep.
I am in awe of her determination.
True grit,
Support has many faces:
making meals
doing laundry
I am angry.
She is composed, resigned, but always determined.
We are so different!
I try to listen,
to read signals and needs.
I try not to push.
We are different.
Hold her hand.
Drive her to appointments, wait together.
Choose the “right” wig.
I pray,
“Lord, grant me wisdom.”
I am blessed to have such a friend.
A new house purchased.
A new focus.
Excitement, celebration.
She is stronger and so happy.
Joy, contentment.
A fireplace.
We share the joy.
And then darkness!
Another surgery, an end to teaching.
Such sadness!
Endless trips to doctors, chemotherapy, radiation, MRIs.
She is brave.
No tears from her.
I weep; I pray; I listen.
Always laughter
In spite of sadness.
Her skin turns black.
My black, Dutch friend.
She craves artichokes – we lunch.
She prays.
She is leaving me.
Never a complaint.
I weep as she sleeps, so weak.
It won’t be long.
I hold her hand.
My friend is gone.
“Lord, thank you for my friend.
I am bettered for being part of her life.”
“And I will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of my hand.”
-Ruth Beckman
The above poem is from  The Compassionate Congregation, pages 152-157.