She was tired. She was frazzled.
She was preoccupied. Focused only on microwaving a cup of hot coffee to take down the hall with the stack of papers under her arm. Too busy for nonsense. Too busy for me.
But did you ever have the feeling that somehow the person standing right in front of you was placed there for a reason?
I was at the copy machine, getting ready to leave work for a harried and unexpected medical appointment - the kind that follows an unnerving phone call at the worst possible time.
You get ready. You go. You think later.
All I could think of at the moment was Connie's praying blonde head standing right in front me - waiting on her coffee and looking oh so busy. Little did I know I waited on Providence.
There are times in your life when you just don't give a flying flip what anybody thinks and you pull from those things you know that you know that you know to be true.
I knew Connie was a praying woman.
She turned to look at me, standing by the water cooler and the paper things flying out of my hand and my sweater all crumpled up around me like I'm freezing to death and no coffee-that-I-desperately-needed in sight with a puzzled look of something akin to terror on my face.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"I have to leave. I need your prayers today."
Concern. Love. Years of working together. Friendship. Knowledge. History. Love. Did I mention love?
"I need the peace that passes understanding," I said.
Did I mention Connie was a praying woman?
I've said it on this blog before and I'll say it again. Everybody needs at least one person they can get to in a hurry when prayers need to fly to heaven. Today was one of those days. What divine proclamation that this woman happened to be in my path at that exact moment of dread and uncertainty.
I think I mentioned Connie was a praying woman.
I don't know what your beliefs are, if you believe in prayer, what you believe about it or if you even care what my beliefs are - I respect your views - but I'm here to tell you that there are some things in this world you just can't explain. And there are a handful of women in my life who know how to reach God. They would drop everything at a moment's notice and plead my case or yours before The Almighty - and not so quietly, I might add. Over the years it's been children mostly, occasional fits of midlife insanity, trivial annoyances (husbands come to mind), souls in need of settling. I have been the giver of those prayers and the humbled recipient more times than I can count. Nobody kept score. It just flowed between us like an unspoken laser of love and nobody cared what chores awaited or how late the hour. There are moments I remember when the tangible presence of something so unearthly settled in among us - like the sounds of aching soft strings on a well-played cello deeply in tune.
But today, the only utterance Mimi had was fear.
Did I mention Connnie was a praying woman?
I don't even know how she flew over to me that fast - hot coffee melting in the microwave cup all spilling everywhere and the clock ticking way past time for the bell to ring tardy we never even heard while her loving prayers spilled over my shirt and into my hair and around my crumpled sweater that even smelled like fear right straight down into the fibers of my frightened heart.
She was a praying woman.
And so my friend took me in her arms and surrounded me with the strongest part of herself.
She didn't know that that phone call held a biopsy result. She didn't need to know - and yet I knew she knew. And somehow I knew that my weakness in that moment was justified, my pride a fleeting nuisance, and that relying on the gift God had stationed right in front of me and the water cooler was the strongest thing I could possibly do for myself. Suddenly, it didn't matter to me what the outcome of that prayer would be. Connie's words were all that mattered and the mercy they held as she pled openly before her God on my behalf. At that moment, there was a peace that passed understanding in the copy machine room that no amount of anything could have taken away from me.
"No, Miss Pencil Skirt, you do not have cancer," I heard the doctor say a short while later. "You can relax now."
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I don't know why or how her frazzled cup of morning met my unexpected need precisely at the moment it did, but grace never held a finer moment.
And I never knew a finer friend.
Did I mention Connie was a praying woman?