Sixty-some years ago, Shirley brought her only child, a beautiful baby girl into the world. Like all new moms, she held her precious baby, probably kissed her little head, and counted all her fingers and toes. Shirley was there and gave Debby life.
A few years later, she became a single mom. It was just she and Deb, together making their way way through everyday life…Shirley working to provide for herself and her little girl; Debby in school doing what all little school girls do. And so the years passed.
Debby grew up, married and had two beautiful daughters of her own. As time went on, her husband was transferred with his company. It was then Debby moved to my home state, some twenty-five years ago, and we became friends.
We laughed and enjoyed each others company. Deb was always a good listener and there for me during sad times, as well as the joyful ones. Our friendship was relaxed and easy. We understood each other and what we were all about. We had similar beliefs and values. We shared our faith.
During those years, Shirley would always make annual summer trips to Deb’s to spent many days with the family, especially those two wonderful granddaughters. There were family excursions, pool time and bar-b-ques. In return, her family spent many holidays taking the six hour drive back to be with her.
And so it went, until the last few years. Shirley, well into her eighties, developed health problems. Debby would get a call that mom was in the hospital and she would travel those six hours to be at her side. Those calls became more frequent; the trips more frequent.
The last call came during Labor Day weekend. Shirley was in the hospital… severe pain in her leg. Tests showed an aggressive, malignant tumor in her chest, pressing on her spinal cord. The prognosis was poor; she had about a month to live, three months with chemotherapy. She decided to forgo chemo; but, accepted several days of radiation therapy. She was moved to a Hospice facility and her pain was being managed.
Mother and daughter spent many hours together talking, reminiscing, sharing silent time, holding hands. Shirley confided that she was ready to meet her Maker… she lived a good life, she was ready. There was a peace about her. “It seems so surreal,” Debby told me. Her daughters flew in from great distances to spend time with their dear grandmother and to say their good-byes. Deb’s husband was there. After Deb’s girls flew home, her mom failed quickly.
A nurse gave Debby the Divine Word Chaplet. Shirley was delighted to learn that Jesus would come personally to take her home if Debby recited the chaplet at her bedside. So, Deb promised her mom that she would devoutly pray it for her each day. Shirley became unresponsive. Debby continued her watchful, prayerful vigil, not only with the chaplet; but, with the rosary and prayers from her heart. Shirley was peaceful as days turned into nights and then days again.
Debby knew the end was near. She recited three beautiful prayers for the dying and was praying the glorious mysteries of the rosary when Shirley opened her eyes and gave Debby a faint smile.
It was as if she saw Our Lord, Jesus, coming for her, and said to Debby, “good-bye, my dear daughter, thank you for being here; I love you.” A few minutes later, Our Lord reached out His hand saying, “ Shirley, I am here to take you home to be with me. Come, my faithful daughter.” And then she breathed her last breath.
Just as Shirley brought Debby into this world, Debby was there as her mom passed from this world… a full circle.
May God bless you abundantly, my dear friend, for being such a loving, watchful daughter.
May you rest in peace, Shirley. I will always remember you.
Dear God, Thank you for the blessing of knowing Shirley. Comfort my friend and her family as they mourn the loss of someone so dear. Amen.