Saturday, December 31, 2016

     Years ago, a dear friend I met in my barbershop chorus said to me, “I don’t know why I’m still here. I’ve almost died from life-threatening diseases three times, and I’m still here. All I can figure is that God thinks I still have something to share. He thinks I still have work to do.I’m not done yet.” She wasn’t. She shared her strength, her resolve, her indomitable spirit and her love with those who knew her. After a heart attack at age 49, she had two bouts of cancer. That never stopped her from living her life with empathy and kindness. Her face always lit up when I visited her, and we talked and talked over our once-a-year trek to our favorite dinner spot—the Gandy Dancer, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

     My friend, Betty, lived to see her only son married and her ex-husband come back from Ohio to live with and care for her in her final days. Such stories seem surreal, but they can be found in the pages of unwritten books everywhere. 

     I learned some important lessons from my friend. I learned that an unwavering faith can help you win against unbeatable odds. I learned that strength appears when we least expect it. I recognized that a big heart no matter how damaged never shrinks in its empathy. Betty was there by my side cheering me on when her life was hanging by a thread. She knew how to make me feel valued and validated. She knew how to help me see my own talent and strength. She listened. She listened with her heart and her soul. She spoke like an angel. My life is richer because of my friend, Betty. I know she is watching over me, and I hope she’s up there singing barbershop with my Dad.