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Life Is Tough, Then You Meet...

It was friendship day yesterday. I tried to hide from it and concentrate on anything but friendship. Instead, I chose to write comments I shared via social meda of horrific acts of man, thinking that would somehow fill the void within my heart.

Didn't work. Not yesterday, not today. The ache is still there, so I am making this day my Friendship Day.

Every now and then, if you are fortunate in life, you have someone cross your path whom you not only embrace with love, but whom you admire. This is the case with my friend Val.

Having moved to a new area, I found it difficult to make contact with other women and form friendships. This was a challange as I am very much a 'people person', and so missed the companionship and conversation of a good friend. Literally years passed with each attempt to reach out my hand to another being met with rejection, and sadness. I gave up the quest, doubted my self, cried a bit and then moved on, thinking that chapter of my life now closed.

After a few years of searching, I landed the perfect job; a site manager at our local hospital's mail and copier center. I dug into learning everything I could about the equipment and services. Life was exciting, hectic and pleasant, yet that emptiness for frienship remained.

One day, a tiny bit of a woman, short cropped hair, glasses and dress down to the floor, motioned me to her office. She inquired how I was, wishing to know if she could do anything to assist. You see, I had just been visited by Upper Management and berated for something I had not done; actually tried and convicted before even given an opportunity to speak. This woman who worked near me, knew the truth and was, in fact, horrified I had been treated in such a way when I had done nothing but give 100% to the company.

I looked into her face and viewed the anger in her eyes. She rose and embraced me in a warm hug and the tears I'd held back, flowed freely. Thus began our friendship. We would share our thoughts of politics, religion, and local changes, often at opposite sides of the spectrum on the topics, yet remaining interested in what the other had to share and their opinion. We both loved the arts and spoke of music, theater, books and the beauty of the world. I now had someone whom I could open up to, who accepted me as I was, no judgment and whom I could do the same. It was mutual respect and deep love.

I found that Val was 'just like this'. She gave to others, asking nothing at all in return, except perhaps a smile. You never knew what you'd find pop up on your desk. It could be avocados and mangos she knew I loved or a personally selected gift bag filled with goodies, on every holiday. No matter how much you'd protest they were not needed but thank you so much, how thoughtful, Val would poo-poo you away, saying it was nothing. Never a holiday or occasion went by without a gesture from Val.

What I saw was a soul full of love and caring and a sharp, intelligent mind. One minute, she would talk about a serious topic, the next laugh a hardy laugh over silly nonsense. What fun, what joy, and what a hoot. I lookied forward to seeing my dear friend every single day, even if we had time to only exchange a mere smile.

It would be egotisticol of me to believe she and I had, alone, formed such a friendship. No. Val was friend to many, judgmental of few and always there to lend a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, a word of wisdom. She touched hundreds of lives each day and asked only that we respect her privacy, in return. If you boasted about her acts of kindness, she would be the first to ask you not to do that again, for it was nothing and she wished it to remain private. Soon, all who respected Val, understood and accepted and honored her wishes of secrecy.

The last few years were rough, for both Val and those who loved her. She had developed a rare type of cancer. True to form, she'd been quietly fighting the disease, until she felt the time was right to tell us of it. We knew, without words, it was terminal. We knew, without words, we'd be there for her every step of the way. We knew, without words, she'd fight with every ounce of engery and will within her. We knew, without words, she'd tend to the gardens she loved and continue on, at work as well.

So the fight began and took its toll, a brief remission, then back with vengence; rather a game of cat and mouse as medicine soared through her veins, her body swelled and later relaxed, allowing a bit of normalcy to return for awhile.

How many cried as they held her, I'll never know. I am sure it was those she trusted and felt she could confide in without retribution. It wasn't easy for anyone as Val fought this battle. But there she would be, working as usual, traveling to other countries with her husband, going to the theater and living life to the fullest.

Val was one of the most unselfish people I have ever met in my entire life. She was, indeed, the most honest, trustful, and humble. One example I experienced. The cancer had ravaged her thin body and each day was frought with pain, yet you would not hear a complaint from her lips. Instead, she focused on others. I had recently had an operation on my vocal cords and was off work for a week. Two cards and a tote full of games, stuffed animals, tissues and treats arrived. I wondered who would have thought of me? Me without friends and, of course, and to my surprise, they were from my buddy Val. I sobbed out of love, my heart breaking as I touched each little gift within the tote. I wailed from my heart as I read the get well cards. She who was going through so much more than I could ever imagine, was giving me comfort.

About three months had passed and I was brushing my hair and looking in the mirror, as we all do, when it flashed through my mind 'Val has died". I shook my head and wondered why I was thinking such a thing and focused on getting ready for work. When I arrived at work that day, I was told Val had passed away, right around 7:00 am this morning, the exact time the thought flashed in my mind.

Did she say her final goodbye by visiting me? I like to think that, for that would be my friend Val, letting me know ahead of time so I was prepared. Yet I wasn't. Is anyone really? My heart is broken as are so many others who miss ths remarkable woman every single day of their lives. Val is one whom I aspire to resemble in both word and actions. I am sure others feel the same way. I selfishly want, the one dear friend I made here back with me, to hug her one more instant, to cry in her arms one last moment, to laugh with joy, one last time.

Val, you taught me so much and now I know it is time to let your spirit sour free. Your body is out of pain and I hope you are with your God whose hand you held through your ordeal. I know you are and always will be by my side.

I also know how very fortunate I am to say, my life was so tough, and then I met Val.

Kisses and love to you my friend, always.

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