Just over a week ago, I was visiting my friend Audrey, who had just gone into Riverview Center - a place for palliative care. It was hard to follow the stretcher car as it took Audrey from Concordia to Riverview. We all knew that this was where Audrey would live out her final days here on earth.
Audrey Voth - had become my friend just two years ago, and yet I can't explain it (other than God) but we were sister - friends, and I felt like she had been family for a very long time! We were part of the same church. Part of the same caregroup. And we were part of the same neighborhood. There was just something special about our friendship.
The week before Audrey went into Riverview, her and I had spent the better part of a Tuesday morning just talking. She was talking - and I was recording what would become her eulogy. She knew this was the intent, and seemed glad that I was willing to put it together. For me - it was a window of finding out about a life well lived!
One of the things that I loved about Audrey was her love for flowers - and specifically for gardening. At one time, she had said that perhaps she could come and help out at the retreat house. But then cancer reared its ugly head for a second time, and that never did happen. But as we talked, she shared with me - that she loved daisies
I told her how I loved caring for people but that I was utterley helpless when it came to gardening (or in other words, caring for anything green!) She smiled the same smile that she gave me often! I told her that I wished we had known each other longer so she could have imparted some of her gardening wisdom to me. You see - we own a lot of space, and my friend Maxine has designed a fairly big garden - with many "gardens" within it. Then, I had an idea.
So it was last Thursday (a week ago today) I sat by her bed and told her that I was going to plan to make a garden within our garden plan, and I was going to name it "Audrey's Garden" and I wanted to plant the flowers that she told me she loved, and I also hoped that I would be able to get some plants from her house too. I asked her husband Arnold if he could weld together an arbor (I have oohed and ahhed over the arbor he made Audrey) and Arnold agreed to this request.
I wrote about my friend Audrey - in my personal blog, last week Thursday. This week - Tuesday morning about 8:45 am, Audrey left this place and went to be with the Lord!! So happy for her - but so sad for us, although our good-bye is really only "for a time".
So now, more than any, as I think about the garden and the intent - I think Audrey's Garden will be a celebration of her - and of our friendship. I hope it will be mixed with colors - and with beauty. I hope it will be a part of our garden that will always bring me to remember just what an amazing friend she was - even though we only knew one another for two short years. In fact - I can hardly wait to get some help planning it. More than that - I also hope that when other women see its beauty - that they too will be reminded of a loved one, who has passed through their lives too - and has left behind a sweet fragrance of friendship!
I thank God for the beauty of his creation.
I thank God for the beauty of relationships
I thank God for the beauty of a friend
as a friend reminded me today, with a quote (not sure who said it) but it went like this:
"True friends are hard to find, harder to leave and impossible to forget."
Lord, thank you for my friend Audrey and the impact of her life on her husband, her son, her family and Thank you for what we shared together - good talks, laughter, and also tears. Lord, it is my prayer that the plan for "Audrey's garden" will be a place that brings joy to others - and where it brings wonderful memories of friendship - and where it brings an awareness of who YOU are God, and how you are in our lives - in our friendships - and in everything that happens - Yes, even in our grieving. YOU. ARE. HERE. I pray Lord for your insight - your plan into this space and that the planning, the tilling, the picking of plants, the weeding, the enjoying of your creation - that all of this ultimately will bring you honor and glory! May this be a place that brings honor to you, from a life well lived by Audrey. Lord thank you for my friend. I just imagine that now - she is WHOLE and absolutely healed and in your presence. No more pain. Oh Lord - until we meet again - Audrey and I - may the fragrance of our friendship be in this place! Amen.