I just found out that my friend, Bonnie, went home to Heaven at 4:45 this morning. Her family was with her, and her daughter, Laura, tells me it was very gentle and peaceful.
I spent the night with Bonnie in the hospital on Monday night. It was a long night. She had several seizures, and was unable to really tell me what she needed or wanted. She was so restless, and my biggest task was probably keeping her untangled from her IV cord, catheter and bed sheets. As I sat there in the deep hours of the night, watching over her and praying for her, I was struck by her youthfulness. Her face was soft, like that of a young girl. And her legs and feet looked like they belonged to a healthy young teen, not a woman dying from cancer. It was all so surreal and incongruous.
Bonnie was so young! Her birthday was earlier this month, and I know she was only a year or two older than me, so that would mean she turned 43 or 44. She has four children. I delivered her youngest child, Sarah, at home just twelve short years ago. It seemed so strange to me, that the last night I’d spent with Bonnie was during her labor and birth, helping to bring life into this world. And now I was once again spending the night with her, this time as she reached the end of her own life.
Bonnie is not the first friend I’ve had to die young. Before I turned twenty years old, three of my friends took their own lives. Two were killed in car wrecks. Yet another was a casualty of a gang fight. It wasn’t his fight, but he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But it doesn’t really matter. The end result is the same. And the rest of us are left here on earth to make sense of it, somehow.
I don’t understand why Bonnie had to die so young. I don’t understand how someone who had never smoked, drank, or eaten junk food could have cancer. She told me that she had not gotten enough rest, and that when she did sleep, the room hadn’t been dark enough. I told her that she was the only person on the planet who could say something like that, that the rest of us had a litany of health faux pas we could blame, but only she could say she should have gotten more rest! She had never even taken so much as an aspirin until a year ago, when the lymphs in her armpit got so swollen and painful! No, that will never make sense to me.
Our homeschooling community is grieving collectively. Bonnie, in her quiet, gentle way touched so many of us very profoundly. She was the kind of Christian “Proverbs 31” woman that most of us can only hope to be. She was so firm in her faith and convictions, yet never judgmental or legalistic. She loved everybody without compromising her own faith or family. Her children are a living legacy of her faith and beauty. Her oldest two daughters are barely grown, but they already shine with the strong Christian Faith and Spirit of their mother. I have no doubt that her son and youngest daughter will, as well. If all of us could be that sort of Christian, this world would truly be a different place. She was the kind of friend who inspired me to be a better wife, mother, person. And, without question, I am a better person for having known her. I can only pray that I will grow to be more like her, and that maybe, in some small way, I can pass on the many blessings she gave to me to someone else.