Not a friend of mine
There are moments in my life when what I’m doing outwardly is absolutely nothing like what is happening inside me.
I had one of those today.
They shop at our store every year when they meet for vacation here at the beach. It’s tradition for the sisters. Today they came for one last visit.
One sister looked very familiar, and I’m quite sure I’ve served her in the past. The other sister…well, there was little left to recognize. She was yellowed and painfully thin, except for her distended abdomen, far too weak and frail to walk, which is why her sister pushed her in a wheelchair. Her diagnosis: liver cancer, with about a week left to live.
I smiled. I was friendly. In between helping my own customers, I offered assistance to them and to my coworker who was serving them. I behaved as if they were any ordinary customers on any ordinary day and that nothing out of the ordinary was happening. I could see the kindness and care the healthy sister extended to the sick one. I could also see the helplessness and pain my coworker was feeling, even though she could have won an Oscar for the professional behavior she exhibited. My coworker is very young, and this sort of suffering and loss has been uncommon in her limited life experience up to this point. It’s just a basic fact of life: the longer you live, the more you see.
But inside…I could not settle on a single response.
I ached. How could one witness this and not feel compassion for this situation? The suffering, the impending loss…
I was angry. Cancer is a scourge, and I could see Death following that woman around the store, stealing from her, stealing from her family, confident nobody would dare stop it.
I was frustrated. I know a Healer, and I am part of a kingdom where cancer and death are unwelcome and that woman is loved beyond her wildest imaginings. But I was on the clock, and I had to honor basic professional principles in order to honor my employer.
I wished I could find a private place to cry and holler at heaven about all of this. But there wasn’t one, and it wasn’t the time or place. Shoot, it’s almost midnight and I still haven’t been alone since then. Not that I need to be alone to speak my mind and heart to Him, but sometimes you just know that if you go there, there’s no way to remain composed.
Coldplay is singing in my mind:
I don’t wanna battle from beginning to end,
I don’t wanna cycle or recycle revenge,
I don’t wanna follow Death and all of his friends…
I was made to plunder Death’s treasure house. I hate, Hate, HATE watching him dance around in front of me, flaunting his hold on a beloved child.
I don’t know how to be ok with that.