Where Were You?

31 May

You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.
Psalm 139:2-3

It was unusual for me to turn on the small television in the kitchen first thing in the morning, but that day I did. I was shocked and shaken as I watched a plane crash into the second twin tower in New York City. Tuesday, September 11, 2001 ~ just moments after 7 am local time in Albuquerque, NM.

Seven months pregnant and needing a diversion to the normal routine of our day, I sat down in front of the TV with our 2 ½ year old Kimberly to watch the Space Shuttle Challenger lift off from the east coast of Florida. Along with the rest of the world, I was aghast at the sight before my eyes as the smoke plumes streaked across the sky, indicating that something had just gone horribly wrong. January 28, 1986 ~  right before lunch that day … Indianapolis, IN.

It was a Friday morning. Having been back in Indy several times since Daddy had taken a turn for the worse, areas of our house had progressively gotten out of control … like the front hall closet. I was sitting on the floor, surrounded by the contents of that small area, sorting and trying to bring some organization back to my life when the phone rang. Thankfully the phone was right there beside me, since I had just talked to my mom about a half hour before. She had called from the hospital, giving me an update on my dad. This time, at first I wasn’t sure who it was, for she was crying, but I quickly recognized the voice of my Aunt June. My mind immediately couldn’t make sense of what she was telling me, for my mother had just told me that the doctor said that even in his extremely critical condition, Daddy seemed to be improving. But Aunt June was telling me that we just lost him. Middletown, PA … June 24, 1994 ~ around 9:30 am.

I had been out mowing the yard and pulling weeds – with a new grand baby just an hour away, I would’ve much rather been in Baltimore that day, but the chores at home still needed my attention. It was Friday – my day off from work, and I had just walked into the garage to get something when my cell phone rang. I remember smiling inside as the name of my friend popped up on the front screen of my iPhone. I answered with excitement, but quickly realized from the tone on the other end that this was not an ordinary social call. Her voice sounded very serious and matter of fact as she shared with me that she just found out that she has breast cancer. My heart immediately began to hurt and my brain began to reel with questions as I listened to the details she had to offer concerning symptoms, tests, diagnosis, and treatment … June 1, 2012 ~ in my garage in Red Lion, PA.

Sandie and I became the best of friends somewhat by default as we shared the very same small office space in the back of magnolia Music in Hershey, PA in the early to mid 1990’s.  Having initially met Sandie and Kevin at church, they offered me part-time work in their music store where I did a variety of duties and tasks, including collection calls on past-due accounts. I worked along side of many different people during those 6 years of employment, but none as close as Sandie and I. Not only did we share the work load of the office, but we shared the joys and the sorrows of life. We cried and prayed together. We laughed a lot. We kept each other sane as we also shared that very small office space with her husband, Kevin, who, for some reason, gave me a nickname … and still calls me ‘Trouble’. Not only did we work together, we used to vacation together, along with another family. We would camp at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, where we almost got evicted from the campground due to Scottie, our barking miniature schnauzer. Oh the memories! Our three families used to ride bikes on the weekends together. Those more adventurous ones would mountain bike on Saturdays and then the kids and I would join in on the fun after church on Sundays as a bunch of us would ride along the streets in Hershey and outlying areas around our church. We would often go to one another’s homes after church on Sunday nights, play miniature golf, or go swimming in the Walters’ pool. What fun we had!

Girls breakfast out during a visit to PA in March 2003

Girls breakfast out during a visit to PA
in March 2003

Through the years and as life separates by time and distance, our friendship stayed intact. We would both have to admit, though, that it was only attached by threads at times, due to the many miles between Albuquerque and Hershey. But when our family would return to the area for our annual Christmas visit, we would almost always re-connect and catch up. Even when just a few years ago we moved to the Cincinnati area, we made a point to see one another when possible. Now that we have moved back to central Pennsylvania, we have no excuses. Especially now. Since her first diagnosis, Sandie and I have made the time to have lunch together, and then along with our husbands, we have begun to meet for Sunday lunch on a regular basis. Just a few weeks ago, we all went on a nice Sunday afternoon motorcycle ride together, stopping mid-way for an ice cream cone and a ‘butt break’. We laughed about how we used to spend our Sunday afternoons riding together 20 years ago … and how we have gone from pedals in our 30’s to motors in our 50’s!

A year has gone by since that day in the garage. From those initial tests, Sandie found out that the breast cancer was also in her liver and her lymph glands. They immediately began a cocktail of treatments by IV, which she received on regimented intervals, leaving her without hair and energy. Over the course of time, PET scans showed great improvement, allowing a slight change in the medication given. Due to the nature of this particular cancer, however, she and the IV treatments will be life-long companions. A recent test result confirmed new growth again in the breast, so a double mastectomy was elected as the best form of total eradication. Surgery was a week ago this past Tuesday. A few days later, with lunch and Starbucks in hand, I spent a delightful afternoon with my friend and her puppies, Mocha and Weezly. We reminisced about years gone by, laughed a lot, filled in some of the details that had fallen through the cracks of time, and laughed some more. As our hearts were soaking up every morsel of life, conversation flowed, tender moments of expected concern were shared, and a time of prayer sealed our time together as we said ‘till next time’. With a prognosis that doesn’t promise her gray hair and a rocking chair on the front porch, I can promise her my undying friendship and support, my continual prayers, and my love.

Sandie and Kevin

Sandie and Kevin

Where were you? Where were you when you received that call, or when you heard the news? What were you doing when the crisis of your life took you to your knees and caused you to cry out to God? As I think back to those moments in my own life … I was just me … being me, doing what I do, being in the moment. Just as I am … makes me think of the old hymn of the church as sung by Travis Cottrell, with an added chorus … click here http://youtu.be/TGXDfxWM2r0 to listen

I come broken to be mended
I come wounded to be healed
I come desperate to be rescued
I come empty to be filled
I come guilty to be pardoned
By the blood of Christ the Lamb
And I’m welcomed with open arms
Praise God, just as I am

Wherever you find yourself to be, in that moment, won’t you join me in going to Jesus, Just as I am?

Until next time,
Debbie

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