I am experiencing that terrible and wonderful mixture humans possess in enduring the death of a friend. My closest friend in college...my roommate who shared outrageous laughter...died of cancer Sunday. He had been battling this disease since Thanksgiving and was scheduled to return to Mayo's last Friday. However, he became ill a few days back resulting in being admitted to a local Quincy, IL hospital. The doctor's goal was to get him well enough to make his Mayo appointment.
He didn't get well and for some unknown reason, he was sent instead to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. Ah...the city of which I was headed at the same time to attend a couple of Cardinal games with one of my sons.
So I went to see my friend. He had that look that he had received a memo that none of his family or friends fathomed. I've seen that look before. He was more than ill...I could tell. I asked if the family minded if I could speak to him alone. They obliged.
My dear friend of 44 years very weakly reached for my hand and said Talk to me. We both broke out crying; neither able to speak. Then I asked if he was dying. He said he was. I asked if he was afraid. He wasn't. Then I shared with him how I thought his death would go down.
When I finished he said, Thanks. I needed someone to tell me that. Then we cried, held each other, cried much more as we shared how much we meant to the other one. It was such a heart-wrenching and moving moment. We cried so hard we were both shaking as our tears mixed while I hugged his neck. I loved my friend.
But he had the memo and he read it correctly. Unexpectedly, he turned for the exit ramp suddenly Saturday evening and passed from this life into the next early Sunday morning. I'll attend his funeral and feel sure I'll shed a few more tears. But I'll always celebrate the wonderful gift God gave us both when the doctors sent my friend south to St. Louis instead of north to Mayo's.
It was perfect timing. It was one more time just like God. He has so many ways of fascinating us. While I will miss my friend, I will never forget the day we saw God work through the telescope of our own tears.