Yesterday, I received a sad e-mail from an old schoolmate; someone I haven’t heard from in decades. She was telling me about the dire health of one of our mutual friends – a girl I started Junior High with; the girl who arranged the blind, double-date, where I met Sugarman all those years ago; the girl who chose the lace parasol and gloves to accessorize the pink Southern Belle-inspired bridesmaid’s dress that I wore in her wedding.
We were buen companions throughout our school years, then, as often happens, we drifted away from one another, into our “real lives,” and didn’t see each other for over 30 years. I received a Facebook message from that beautiful, sweet Mollie a couple of years ago… “Is this the Melanie Wallace? The one who went to Plano High School?” That started an exchange that ultimately resulted in the reunion of our little Jr. High Trio – Mollie Sue, Judy Sue and Melanie Sue (ok, ok… we were obviously not in with the in-crowd…). Last January, I picked Mollie up at her parents’ house and we surprised Judy (who was my college roommate) at her place of employment (It does not reflect well on our “weathering the years” that Judy didn’t have a clue who we were when we walked in! YIKES!) The three of us spent the afternoon giggling like schoolgirls. It was as if we had never been apart.
During the early moments of our luncheon, Mollie revealed that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer several years before; a particularly virulent strain of the disease, and that it had recently come back. She was, at that time, actually in Dallas to participate in an experimental treatment. At that point, she professed her belief in God and her great fortune in having a supportive husband, her “soul-mate,” and a family who loved and took good care of her. Then, she quickly turned the conversation back to some of our junior-high exploits.
Over the course of the next few months, I watched her Facebook posts and saw that the experimental treatment had been terminated, and that she was looking for other options. Her insurance denied payment of an expensive treatment that had been working, etc., etc., etc…. But, more often than not, her posts were about her kids, her new grandbabies, a special “something” that her husband did for her that day, or her work at church or in the political arena. When the posts stopped back in November, I knew that something was wrong.
I continue to pray for my precious friend, as I have since I first heard the story of her illness. Of course, I pray for a full recovery. I also pray for her peace of mind and comfort during this difficult time. I pray the prayer that never fails, “Thy will be done.” Additionally, I thank God that this sweet, sweet girl came into my life all those years ago. She has been a model of faith and grace throughout this difficult ordeal.
For the first time, looking at Mollie’s situation, I have begun to think about my own mortality. More importantly, though, I have begun to really, truly look at the way that I spend my time. Realizing (I’m a little slow…) that my days here on Earth are numbered, I want those days to be full of the things that I think are important, the things I want to do, and the people I want to be with. Now, these things are very different for each of us. I personally think that it’s a hoot to make cookies, tarry over a good book, watch reruns of Murder She Wrote, or look on-line for photos of projects I want to accomplish (pinterest!). Some of you (Mack?) may think that these things would be punishment of the highest order. But, for me, they are fun. Another part of what I consider “fun” is continuing with my work, spending some time in service of others, and driving (as long and far as it takes) to babysit with Baby Coby!
As the Lord often does with me, He sent a timely story just this past Sunday. Our classmate, Diane, told a story that she had heard about One Thousand Saturdays. It seems, that for a person my age, living an average life span, I will have about 1,000 Saturdays left here on Earth. Thinking about that has caused me to pause and focus on the important things in life. There is nothing like considering time running out to help put priorities in order!
Far from being thoughts of despair, I am encouraged by both Mollie’s and Diane’s stories. I know that, one way or the other, Mollie is going to be just fine. Actually, she is going to be glorious! She knows Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and I fully anticipate a reunion of Mollie Sue, Judy Sue and Melanie Sue one of these days, up in Heaven! (I’m pretty sure that we will be pop-u-lar when we get there!). Diane’s story reminded me that I need to focus on the important things in life – whatever my definition of that might be. For many years, I have been so focused on what I should be doing, will be doing, could be doing…that I have failed to focus on what I am doing. I am going to try to do better.
I often find truth that fits my life in the words of the late Erma Bombeck (does that tell you anything about me?). One of my favorites of her essays is entitled, “If I Had My Life to Live Over.” I think it says it all.
If I Had My Life to Live Over
I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the “good” living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television – and more while watching life.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for a day.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed for life.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”
There would have been more “I love yous”… more “I’m sorrys”…but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute… look at it and really see it…live it…and never give it back.
Thank you, Lord, for this life that I have…right now. Help me to focus on today’s blessings – a husband who brought me coffee in bed, a call from my still healthy and vivacious mother, and my baby Coby’s sweet laugh on the other end of the telephone line. Be with my friend Mollie and give her peace. Thy will be done.