My experience showed me that…human experience continues beyond the grave...under the gaze of a God who loves and cares about each of us.
- Eben Alexander, neurosurgeon and author
A dear and precious friend of mine was very, very sick about seven years ago and it appeared as if she might soon die. She had suffered on and off for years with stomach ulcers and this time it was more than serious. Surgery removed a large part of the ulcerated portion of her stomach and her recovery was difficult. The nausea she had suffered for so long reared its ugly and unrelenting head, and she received no relief from any medication.
Needless to say she was unable to eat or drink much at all and she lost a great deal of weight, which she could ill afford to lose, getting thinner and thinner by the day. Her spirits were tested on a daily basis, as she wondered: Can I get well? Is it worth it to get well? She begged me to ask her friends to all pray for her but not to visit. She had no energy left and even speaking was a struggle.
One night I was sitting in the chair next to her bed with my head resting beside her. When she made a move, I sat up. She weakly leaned forward, looking me straight in the eye, and taking a tight grip on my shirt collar she said, “Trudy am I supposed to go on now or am I supposed to stay? What am I supposed to do?” She looked as close to death as anyone I have ever been with who did not die.
Pale, frail, weak with no energy left, she said she felt like she was right on the edge of having to let go and she simply wanted to know if I thought this was her time. Nose to nose, we sat just looking at each other while I thought about her importance to me, her many other friends and her family.
“No, I don’t think this is your time,” I answered with tears rolling down both of our faces. “We still have lessons to learn, things to do and places to go.” We laughed and cried together for a moment, and then she lay back down and fell asleep.
Slowly but surely she recovered, over a period of months, and I thank God every day that she stayed—she still had so much life and love in her and has made a difference to the world around her every day since. Friendship is something God arranges for his own reasons; it is a sacred gift.