Monday, June 26, 2017

A Memorable Meal with Friends Old and New

We prepared a relish tray and brought a fruit bowl to the Stapletons’ establishment.  Michele rode out there and back with us.  As always, the food was delicious, the atmosphere comfortable and relaxed, and fun was had by all. 

I don’t think it was a mere coincidence that the one time in months we’d all been able to get together was the week Jeff was let go from his job and found out his father, who had been in hospice care already, had stopped eating and drinking.  

Kevin and I have both lost our fathers, who were in hospice care before they passed away.  We have also dealt with the challenges of unemployment.  Interestingly enough, there were times when our being out-of-work allowed us to be there for other people during critical periods. 

I reconnected with Laura the week before their wedding.  Laura and Jeff got married on my dad's 54th birthday.  That Saturday when I brought my father Communion at his apartment, I was all dressed up for the wedding.   A mere sixteen days later, my friend and her groom were in nice attire and at the same church for my father's funeral.  It meant so much to me that this newly married couple came together to show their support.

It’s never easy to be let go from a job or to decide it’s time to move on, but when I was out of work one time, my dad called me and asked if I’d take him to the doctor the next day.  He called me because he knew I'd be home.  He didn't want to bother anyone at work.  I didn’t have a vehicle and could tell he wasn’t okay, so I sent my mom and Kevin to check on him ASAP.  We got him to the emergency room.  We later found out that had he gone to sleep that night, it’s likely he never would have woken up because his lung had collapsed.  He needed emergency surgery.

Fast-forward to another August when Kevin was one of the people laid-off from the Bank of America call center.  He found this out when we got home from our vacation to Rochester, New York.  During my husband's time between jobs, Jeff was diagnosed with colon cancer.  

In fact, the evening that Jeff ended up back in the hospital, Laura called to ask if we could bring her dinner.  Kevin and I had just driven into the parking lot at St. Benedict Church for daily Mass. Usually, I turned my phone off before we left home or on the way, but that time I hadn't turned the ringer off, yet. We left right away to get Laura sustenance and provide emotional support during a difficult time.  

Because Kevin had more flexibility and time while out of work, he could go and sit with Jeff during some of his chemo treatments in the months to come.  We felt it a tremendous blessing that we could be part of the people lifting them up in prayer and encouraging them.  

God works in mysterious ways.  Like Kevin, Jeff had just returned from a trip when he was given the news that he had been let go.  It was the first time he had ever had that experience.  He was very surprised but soon saw it as a blessing that he had no work commitments preventing him from going down to spend time with his family in Florida.  He could be there for his mom, sisters, and their families without having to worry about missing work.  His father had reached the end of his life before Jeff made it down there, but everyone coming together was a time of true beauty and blessings. 

It's hard for us to see what good might come of our difficult circumstances, but God can bring beauty out of ashes, rekindle friendships out of thin air, and transform a tough turn of events into a remarkable series of unexpected blessings.  

Lord, thank you for the gift of friends who have stood by us in times of joy and sorrow, sickness and health, feast and famine.  Give us the courage and strength to see beyond our own situation so that we can be better vessels of love, hope, and healing for those around us who are suffering in mind, body, and/or spirit.  Amen.
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