And how important it is to have people, namely friends, in our lives.
One friend in particular has been on my mind constantly for a number of weeks now, as she has nursed her husband of over thirty years through the last days and weeks of his life.
When Heather and I first met, about three years ago now, I felt immediately that she was a woman of strength and wisdom, honesty and courage.
And love. Heather has a heart full to brimming over with love, love for her family, her friends and neighbours. She epitomises the word love, so it came as no surprise at all to watch Heather’s friends rally to her side in her time of need.
When Heather faltered in her faith and strength, her friends were there to give her the courage she needed to make it through the day.
Prayers and good wishes were sent across the entire world, from people who wished to be her strength at times when Heather didn’t feel she had the will to go on.
I, too, sent Heather words of encouragement, prayers and love, along with everyone else who is proud to call her their friend, many of whom, like myself, have never met Heather.
As the days progressed and the health of Heather’s husband deteriorated, she continued to open up her heart, along with their lives, and share the journey that the family was taking; the joyous, priceless moments, of which there were many, along with the pain and the tears, as they all witnessed the husband and father who they all loved so dearly, slipping away from them.
Where did Heather find the strength to share, on a daily basis, the incidence of her life? Many days I would read her words and marvel at this woman of courage and faith.
And as Heather continued to record her feelings and bare her soul to her friends, more and more friends appeared to offer her support, to help carry her through this journey on the days when she felt she could walk no further, to be a crutch to her when she just needed a little encouragement to carry on.
Heather recorded her weak and faltering husband, as he had requested a moment himself in which to personally send thanks to those who offered their family words of encouragement and love.
I am totally in awe of this family! What a privilege it is to call Heather my friend! Never before in my life have I witnessed such an out-pouring of love, appreciation, strength, belief, courage, wisdom, faith and honesty, and all from a family who were living through one of the most tragic times in their lives!
Heather’s husband took his final journey just a few hours ago, and I would like to share the words which Heather wrote after she had rested. I wish to remember these words forever ~
“Heather woke up HAPPY and PEACEFUL and filled with JOY. I cannot explain it, but I have so much to share with you all over the coming days. The smile on my beloved’s face after he passed…the cessation of suffering and the radiation of peace is forever emblazoned on my eyes, mind and heart. I just want to SING GOD BE PRAISED!!!!!!!!! I was right there, in his face as he took his flight. I was laughing and smiling and glorifying God and his eyes were bright and you could feel the energy as he left. It was so amazing. Farewell, my one true love. I will miss you, but oh the memory of your passing is so incredibly beautiful. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Only a heart of stone could not be moved by Heather’s words.
As I write, I struggle to see through the tears in my eyes; tears of sadness over the loss which Heather’s family must endure, tears of joy as I recall the happiness they have found during the darkest of days and also tears of pride as my heart is bursting, as I marvel at the strength of my friend.
Through Heather’s eyes, I have seen the pure love throughout the world, love which makes no demands and no promises, has no expectations and is totally, completely and absolutely unconditional.
And friendship. I will never underestimate the power of friendship, of opening your heart and your arms, and welcoming people into your life.
Thank you Heather. Thank you for being my friend, for opening your heart, for your honesty, your wisdom and your belief.
Photo credit – Barbaraellen Koch (Photo taken the night Heather’s husband made his final journey.)