Most of us can handle the stressors of everyday life, but when emotional illness is hiding in the shadows, any change can become the deepest depression. And so it was for my friend. Where were her glimpses of heaven?
My precious young friend died last night. Life had become so difficult for her to bear that she could no longer go on and so she ended the pain. This was a beautiful, talented and dearly loved friend to many people, a young mother who loved her son more deeply than words could express and whose returned love meant the world to her.
Wounded by an emotional illness so horrific that it paralyzed her body, soul, mind and spirit, she simply could not continue. She tried avenue after avenue, doctor after doctor, in her desire to find her way out of a fog of depression so unrelenting, it left her broken and exhausted. Where were her glimpses of heaven on this earth?
Her life, while we worked together, was joyful and limitless. Coming to a new position fresh from college, she grew and matured into a lively, caring, gifted public relations and marketing professional and a very successful fund-raising manager. Never did any of us who knew and loved her have any thought of the demons that lay lurking before her. She was pure joy to be around, generous to a fault, and had no guile within her. She trusted everyone to be as good as she was and when she found them not to be, she was immediately forgiving. She was our glimpse of heaven.
She married a young man whom she loved dearly and gave birth to a beautiful little boy. Most of us can handle the normal stressors of everyday life, but when emotional illness is hiding in the shadows of our minds, any change can become the deepest depression.
And so it was for my friend. Alone, while her husband was in the service, she slid down the tunnel of a deep depression. Frantic calls let me know that she was suffering terribly and in need of help. Reaching out to friends who loved her could only help so much, and her struggle continued.
Over the next several years she fought to find her own voice, to become whole again and to become the wonderful person she knew God meant her to be. She wanted more than anything to be a happy, productive and loving mother, wife, friend, sister and daughter, and her struggle was painful to watch. As hard as they tried, neither family nor friends could give her the comfort she sought. She turned to God often and in a myriad of ways, seeking his face and his heart everywhere she could. She knew she was not alone, but peace for her heart and mind seemed just out of reach.
By the time she was no longer able to function well and live as a family with her son and husband, her heart had become irrevocably broken. She moved through the paces of everyday life but was no longer really living. Her playful spirit was gone, fatigue was a constant companion and she needed to find a place to rest. She longed to feel safe, to find peace and to be whole again.
Her parting leaves a huge hole in this world and in our hearts that no one else can ever fill. Her sweetness, loyalty and grateful demeanor are no longer with us now. The birthday calls, the beautiful smile, the funny e-mails or prayers sent on any given day have been stilled, but the essence of her very pure, tender spirit and innate goodness remains in all of us to cherish.
There is not one doubt in my mind that she stepped out of her earthly home, which had become too hard to bear, and into the loving and compassionate heart of Jesus. Her glimpse of heaven is now complete and she lives with him in heaven forever. When he said, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavily burdened and I will give you rest,” he was speaking to my sweet friend.