It's been a bit of a whirlwind here lately. I have a few things to post about, but as I am trying to prepare for a trip, I am strapped for time. My heart is heavy and my mind is consumed with my friend Brandi, so I will share about her tonight.
On Aug. 4, 8:15 P.M., I texted Brandi. I had been thinking of her all week...just had her on my mind a lot and felt I should check in with her. It had been too long.
"Hi pumpkin! Just been thinking about you. Hope all is well. xoxo"
Aug. 5, 8:36 P.M.-Brandi to me
"Oh my, I was thinking of you this week. All is good. Just trying to get by. How about you all, anything new?"
Aug. 5, 9:09 P.M.-me to Brandi
"We are doing well. I will send you an email and fill you in on us"
Aug. 5 was my 35th birthday.
I never sent the email.
Why did I let myself be too busy?
What if that is the last communication I have with one of the dearest friends God has ever given me?
Brandi is 35 also. She had a massive stroke on Sat., Aug. 25.
TWENTY DAYS after I was too busy to write or call, my friend's life changed and that luxury was taken.
She had a migraine that day. She got up out of bed, said she didn't feel well...and her husband caught her as she collapsed.
She couldn't speak. She was paralyzed on her right side. Her brain was swelling. She had to have a surgery to remove part of her skull to relieve the pressure. Almost a week later, the swelling finally stopped. At present, they are talking of putting the piece of her skull back in place and doing a tracheostomy.
This is my 35-year-old, healthy, beautiful, vibrant, funny friend, who has shared hard hurts of life with me, intimate conversations, dreams, wishes, regrets...hilarious moments, silly jokes, amazing worship...
Wednesday morning I leave with my family on vacation...a supposed-to-be-fun trip to see other friends and Disney World. Then we were going to Daytona Beach and to spend time with some more dear friends who have had their world rocked this year...and to see family we don't get to see often.
But, now, NOW, I have one goal that overshadows all others...to get to South Carolina...to get to Ryan and look in his eyes and say, "You CAN get through this!" I want to hold her children in my arms and hug them so hard as a mom that it might somehow help them feel her love for them for a moment! I want to hold my friend's hand like I have sat and done as we talked and cried and prayed!
I can do nothing but pray and speak life over her, believe for her healing but lay her at the feet of Jesus and say, "Your will be done Lord."
I feel like I can't describe how I feel right now. The grief I feel defies my explanation.
One year ago when we visited South Carolina, we stayed in her home. Always faithful friends, Ryan and Brandi were there with open arms to welcome us back, throw us a party even!
I thought I was a person who looked for the purpose in each day, had trained myself to be joyful in the present and live with no regrets. I tried to be very available and embrace fully the people in my life. I realized through this how very long it is between times of communication with people I hold so dear in my memories.
God has absolutely blessed me with friends all over this nation. Our time in the military could have been so lonely, but He provided family through these friendships...dear people who we walked through so much...the great, the good, the bad, and yes, even the ugly. But we did it together! Every move has brought new friends but separated us from others. It is bittersweet to say the least.
I know I have a friendship with Brandi that is a 2-way street. I know if she could talk to me right now she would say, "What are you upset about? I could have called you more too. Life is just busy, but we know we love each other." I know she wouldn't be mad at me.
Heck do I feel mad at myself though :(
I still remember vividly sitting on her couch last year after everyone else was in bed. All of sudden we both went silent for a long pause and just stared at one another. She finally said, "I forgot how much fun we have together. Now I miss you more brat! Why did you have to come visit me!" And then she slapped my leg and with tears in my eyes, I said, "I miss you too Brandi."
Oh dear God, my heart is so broken. I want to see her smile, hear her laugh, sit beside her.
I hear her voice in my head...what she would tell me if this was one of our other friends, "We just have to keep believing...keep praying. God has a plan to use this for good even if we don't understand right now."
I don't doubt God's goodness...not a bit. I have walked long enough...studied hard enough...experienced enough...witnessed enough to know beyond any doubt that God IS good and that never changes. God didn't even withhold His very Son from us. He gave all.
Satan and his minions come to steal, kill, and destroy all. I know who this battle is with. I know from whom this attack came. I know the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament, and I know why Satan hates the children of God. I know Christ came to give life abundantly, and I know that the enemy can only operate where given domain.
I know the authority I possess in the name and blood of Jesus, and I know how to wield the Sword. I will do my part for my friend in this battle. I just hope if it doesn't end the way I hope that my emotions can handle God's ultimate plans gracefully.
And if I am feeling all this, how much more is her husband?
How I long for heaven! But as my sweet Heather would say, "Until all have heard..." we carry on and may the joy of the Lord be our strength.
Shortly after we met. Our now 14-year-olds were in the same K4 class together, and Brandi and I took turns watching Alex and Madison as they slept in their car seats, while the other went in to pick up Carrie and Garrison.
Alex adored Carrie! She was always a little helper with big ambitions :)
K5 graduation...still friends but in different classrooms
These were taken after we had moved but came back for a visit
Madi had gotten so big! And Brandi was hating her short hair! :)
She would hate this picture of us, but it's us so I would tell her to get over it! I sooo wish I could find the one of her in a cleansing mask from a women's retreat (Remember that Laura Smith and Lori Muckelvaney???!!! Remember who tried not to brush her teeth! bhaaaa)
Yes, those are our handsome husbands with hair! (Brandi would pick on both of them.)
Our visit last year. This pic was taken just before Ryan made me think a bug was crawling on me! Terd!
Brandi loves to take me to the Piggly Wiggly! She feels bad for us "Northerners" who don't have any around! This is her youngest, Parker.
He is such a sweet, sweet little boy!
We love you Brandi!!!