In the last blog (A Special Gift) I talked about giving the world a special gift; peace. Today, I’m going to share about giving and getting one LAST gift…
Within the last months of spring into summer, 2 people have passed away. Just this week as I am writing, a one-of-a-kind lady that I’d first met when I was a teenager passed away. I’d like to tell you a bit about her and my relationship, as it was meaningful to me.
Upon my family and my moving to a new town at my age of 16 years old, and knowing virtually no one in the community, a neighbor lady I did have a relationship with had decided to introduce both my Mom and I to meet this one-of-a-kind lady and her teenage daughter.
We were invited to the new lady and her daughter’s house for a respectable “Tea Party” that was a real lip smacking event! Delicate dishware, intrinsic homemade baked goodies, fresh berries that exploded with flavor, topped with various mouth-watering teas, were all a part of the Tea Party! It was all simply exquisite.
Being a tomboy, I wasn’t into LADY-like qualities at that time in my life (just ask my Mom). I sported blue jeans and tee shirts, or sweatshirts in the cooler months. Summertime, a pair of athletic shorts with a sporty tank top. I was not a trend-setter in clothing styles! However, our Hostess was a stylish dresser, was very cordial, and from just meeting her, I could tell she loved serving people.
As we were sitting at the table during the tea party (attempting to be prim and proper, both my Mom and I, but MAYBE not noticeable to the others at the table?), I tried my best not to squirm in my seat. I dabbed at the corners of my mouth like the other women after taking a nibble from the delicate food items. All the while, I was trying to follow the conversation that was going on among the 3 ladies present.
I glanced at the younger teenager sitting across the table from me. I should speak to her more, but we’d already covered all the basics, I’d thought. It seemed we were both content in listening to the adults talk, so we stayed engaged in their conversation that proved to be interesting and sometimes even comical.
The tea party was a success, a time of getting to know one another and forming new friendships! Friendships that were unique, one-of-a-kind.
As the years went by, the one-of-a-kind lady and I would cross paths in our community. We’d start a conversation, chatting about some natural health subject usually. She, too, was into all-natural health, so it was most often a LONG time later that we’d finally wrap up our conversation! I, too, was an adult by this time, so talking with her was easier for me… well kind of, because she did most of the talking and it was kind of hard to get words in! No disrespect intended!
In one of our conversations I’d told her I was going to go to school for Massage Therapy. She was genuinely happy for me, which lead to her inquiring about why I choose that specific career. I’d answered her question at length while she intently listened. She was very interested in my new journey and encouraged me.
Jump forward to Spring 2013. I’d finished my massage schooling and came back to Ortonville, MN where my family was/is and opened up my own business in town (AKA “The shop”; Helping Hands Therapeutic Massage and Body Work). Not long after opening the shop, I got a phone call from this one-of-a-kind lady. She wanted to come and get a massage, so we set an appointment time and soon she was walking through my office door. As you can well imagine, there was not a lack of words for either of us as it’d been a while since we’d last talked.
As the years progressed, she’d come in for random appointments. Other times, she’d simply call the office leaving a message for me to call her when I had a FEW minutes of time to talk. That was always comical to me, because our conversations were NEVER a few minutes! At the least, they were usually 1/2 an hour! When I had a nice break in my day, I’d call her back. She’d answer the phone saying, “Kelly! Oh, yes, I was going to ask you about…” And so, our conversation would begin; one rabbit trail leading to another, which would take us well into the 1/2 hour of discussion! Eventually, it would come full circle, but we certainly took the long way to get there, much to both our delights!
Through the years I genuinely enjoyed my friends’ messages left at the shop’s answering machine at any given time. They were always random, and most often made me smile! The random conversations we had didn’t end there, at the shop though. I’d run into her at a food coop in town where she’d volunteered. As I’d walk through the structural door, our eyes would meet… and a smile would break out on both of our faces. My shopping was always put on hold, unless she was with a customer. Like usual, our conversations hit any all-natural health subject, visiting countless rabbit trails before we’d finally have to wrap it up so I could get back to work.
A decade of knowing one another had passed. It’s Spring 2019. I’d gotten news that my one-of-a-kind friends’ health had taken an unforeseen path, and unexpected turn. The message on my office machine was from her husband, not from her as I’d come so accustomed to.
Mom and I wanted to pay her a visit at the hospital, as she was recovering from multiple brain surgeries. In hand we toted a home-made chocolate delicacy I’d concocted a few years ago. The delicacy, having no “official name”, was soon to be named after our lady friend. This was a treat that we’d had her try on one of her visits at the shop years before… and she LOVED it! When she loved a food creation, there was no hiding it!
At the hospital, while visiting, she ate some of my chocolate… thoroughly enjoying it, savoring each little delicate nibble. Asking if she wanted her feet massaged, she replied, “Well, I don’t want to put you to work.”
I chuckled, shaking my head saying, “This isn’t work.”
She smiled and willingly stuck her feet out from under the covers. This time together was to be one of the last opportunities to visit with her, her family there and extended family visiting too.
When it came time for us to leave, Mom hugged her saying their “good-byes”. My friend, whom is also Mom’s friend, said to my Mom, “Keep doing the work the Lord has put you here for.” My friend’s faith was strong. We were sisters in the Lord and we are not afraid to talk about the wondrous things of God.
It was my turn, so I leaned over to hug her. She said, “I wish it didn’t have to be this way, to say good-bye.”
As I hugged her thin frame, I said, “It’s not ‘good-bye’. It’s ‘see you later.'”
She spoke with obvious emotion, “You’re right. It’s not ‘good-bye’. It is ‘see you later.'”
Many weeks passed before our friend left this earth. I got the honor of serving her one last time… and that was the last gift we shared as she rested through it, as though sleeping, but her consciousness seemed to know what was going on. It was a final “see you later” for us. As I stood massaging her feet, I thought to myself, what an honor to serve my sister as she’s getting ready to meet Jesus face to face.
Massaging her feet and sharing some quiet time, I reflecting on the memories we’d shared together, it was nearing my time to leave… so I spoke softly, “How’s the foot massage feeling, Judy?”
Without missing a beat, her foot gave me a nod… and after, her head gently swayed. She was there, present with me. A lump formed in my throat. I knew she was speaking to me in the only way that she could.
My friend passed away the next early morning after I’d been with her. To serve her while she prepared for her meeting her Maker was the best gift I could have given her. It was small in comparison to all the gifts people can give, but yet the simplicity of our time was so profound for me. Or, maybe the fact that we were BOTH not talking but TOTALLY in tune with the other was part of the profoundness! I got the blessing, truly. My friend gave ME the gift of serving her in her last hours. Giving the only gift that you have to give, what can be looked at as small, but yet was something profound and meaningful, feels amazingly like what maybe true love was meant to be; without conditions. We were in one another’s presence, without speaking hardly a word, but sensing each other’s presence being at total peace, acceptance, and having unconditional love for the other. It was a humbling, life changing experience, something I know that I will treasure for the rest of my life
Being able to give someone “one last gift” is something that not all of us will get to be a part of. Sometimes death comes so quickly, no one has opportunity to express their feelings towards another. When we are given an opportunity to say, “See you later”, “I love you”, or “I’m going to really miss you when you’re gone”, how many times do we actually take the opportunity to say it? Life is precious. Time is precious.
In honor of my one-of-a-kind friend, fellow sister in Christ, and an all-natural lover of making chocolaty sweet treats, we now call MY chocolate concoction, “Judy’s Chocolate”. Some may love it, others may will hate it. Either way, no judgement here!
I’d like to ask you the Reader, “Are you ready to give, or receive, one last gift?” Are you ready to say or hear, “It’s not good-bye. It’s see you later!” I’m not going to preach about “what’s next”, or “life after death” when we pass away from this earth. I believe what I believe, and I respect your choice in what you believe. That being said, I know one day I’ll see my friend again. And when that happens, I imagine that our paths will not just cross as we walk together with Christ, but we’ll be united (with our Papa God), picking up exactly where we left off! Of course, there won’t be a lack of words, and we can take ALL the rabbit trails we desire because we’ll have eternity to talk!
There are two things that are certain in this life. We are born, and we will pass away. The in-between these two is what matters. Go out and love all people. Go out and be the change you wish to see in the world. Go out and share what you have learned. Go out and meet new people. Try making new friends. Go out and give someone what just might be their one last gift. You just never know whose life you will bless; yours, the other’s, usually BOTH!