“I hope you have a flashlight with you,” my friend Elaine said. “The porch light is out, and there are rattlesnakes.”
When I heard those words last week, I knew I was truly heading home, back to the small central Arizona town where Elaine and I grew up. She was my best buddy, the one who made forts with me under the palo verde trees when we were small. Narrow with narrow leaves, the branches bend down to the ground, creating a small, parent-proof refuge between trunk and branches. Then we graduated to riding horses together and playing with Barbies, and then to watching Star Trek and talking all night about boys.
We kept in touch most of the remaining years, until now, in her mid-fifties, Elaine’s sister called and said she had an aggressive form of cancer. Somehow I had thought Elaine and I were immortal, that she and I would return to sitting under trees at 80 years old—this time the big mesquite trees whose branches reach farther into the sky, permitting two white-haired women, one leather-faced from a life time under the Arizona sun, to talk long hours together in its shade.
We may still sit there, Elaine and I, in a few decades. While I was staying with her last week, after flying down to see her before leaving again for Russia, we got the word that the cancer has not metastasized. She called me a few days ago, all excited.
“I know what I am going to do, Judy. I will be thrown in with lots of people who are in pain and suffering. I will tend to their pain. This is my task now.”
That is the point, I’m thinking—to take everything life gives you, and turn it around for God’s glory and active good.
Contributed by Judy Maurer, Reedwood Friends