At some point in the year, another Girl Scout mom said she would like us to make a quilt as a group project & asked if I would head it up. She also said she thought this girl would be a good recipient. We asked the older girls to choose if they wanted to work on the quilt project or something else. 5 of the older ones chose the quilt. One of them was this girl. Now, THAT was fun trying to keep this a secret! Of course, having all the girls make a square was a rather generic thing to do for a troop quilt "to be given to someone later." We WANTED them to personalize it for this girl, but knew that would likely not work with her right there. Instead, we found pictures featuring her over the years in Girl Scouts. This girl went to the quilt store with us when we went. This girl was at meetings when we worked on the quilt. This girl was in my house arranging squares for the quilt. I am so happy to say that NOT ONE SINGLE OTHER GIRL leaked the surprise this whole time. They all knew! They all kept it quiet. Yes, TWENTY girls and moms kept this a secret! PLUS all but the leader's daughters knew about THAT quilt, so we kept TWO secrets for a LONG TIME!
At the Girl Scout banquet, I had all the girls come up front and the 5 who had worked on the Quilting Badge (all the girls worked on the quilt in some form) stood in front, with this girl front & center. I had typed up a little something for each girl to say. 4 of them had the same page. This girl had a different page. The words only changed at girls 4 & 5, so we hoped she wouldn't notice, and it worked! When they got to the end, they announced, "This quilt is for YOU!" Her mouth dropped open and she said, "WHAT???!!!!" then threw her head back in laughter and glee. Oh, what a sight it was. How much love those other girls poured out to their dear friend that night. How many tears some moms and dads shed!
Let me explain why this was so significant. You will need tissues. You might recall that about a year ago two of my dear friends were diagnosed with cancer. My friend Kathy was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. It was aggressive, but the doctor assured her very treatable thanks to medicine available just in the past few years. Our other dear friend (Kathy was one of her dearest friends) was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Stage 4. She had surgery a few weeks after Kathy had a mastectomy. They began getting chemo within 2 weeks of each other. I sat with each of these friends in the chemo rooms at some point. Our other friend appeared to be faring so well, physically, throughout her treatment. Emotionally and spiritually, we had never seen her looking better. She went from someone who rarely mentioned her faith to someone who could not give God enough praise for what He was doing in her. She believed He would heal her on this earth. She wanted to speak to other women going through this to encourage them. This is a lady who didn't even like to talk to a group of 4 people at a time. The transformation was amazing.
Then, just after her 3rd chemo treatment (out of 6 treatments), her mother, who had been her rock during these days, suddenly became ill. She was hospitalized. After a rocky 2 weeks, she lost her battle. Our dear friend had to say good-bye to her precious mom in the middle of battling cancer. She continued her chemo treatments, but we knew her heart was aching as never before. Still, she appeared physically to be doing well. Then, the week of her last chemo treatment, she didn't seem like herself. I picked her up on Wednesday (she had 2 days of treatments each time) and she was extremely lethargic. She said she just hadn't slept well as her mom's death certificate had arrived. On Thursday another friend took her home and said she was very tired still. On Saturday she collapsed at home and was taken by EMS to the hospital.
We learned in the days and weeks to follow that she had developed an infection, and even more disturbingly, that the chemo had not shrunk any tumors and they had, in fact, spread. She spent 5 weeks fighting for her life. She was prayed over. She was cared for by nurses. She was doted on by her husband. She wanted to live to see her baby (a teenager but still her baby) grow up. On December 1st of 2010, our precious beloved friend was healed. However, it was not the healing we'd wanted. It was the ultimate healing. She was home free. She was out of pain. She was with her Lord and with her sweet mama.
We don't know why the Lord allowed this. It seems unfair. It is unfair in our eyes. Yet, we trust that He will bring beauty from ashes. He will use this to His glory. We have seen Him already paving the way so that our friend's husband could stay home and continue homeschooling his daughter. He stepped into a world unknown to him and has become a hero in our eyes.
The sweet smiling girl in the picture above is our friend's daughter. She lost her grandmother and her mom within a few months. She was quite angry when she lost her grandmother but, amazingly, through her mom's illness at the end, we saw this young lady grow by leaps and bounds. She told me at one point, "If my grandmother had lived, I would be sitting at home right now doing nothing instead of all the things I've been able to do with (names of families)." It's as if God gave her that ray of hope to see that He would care for her and give her hope in the midst of anguish.
As her friends, these Girl Scouts wanted to shower her with that love in a tangible way. Kids don't often know how to comfort someone who is grieving. For that matter, adults don't often know how. As I thought about it, as far as I know, all of us Girl Scout moms still have our own moms living. We've not experienced what she has. But these girls found a way to love on their friend. When their friend uses this quilt, she will know that her friends love her. She will also remember the love her mom had for her.
The last pictures on the quilt were these: 1) A picture of her with her mom and a few other scouts several years ago at a Girl Scout Event 2) A picture at the Christmas party this year with her dad and her older sister in the background. I put the words of a Girl Scout song that seemed so fitting:
Make new friends, but keep the old
One is silver and the other's gold
A circle is round. It has no end.
Thats how long I want to be your friend.
We miss our friend so much, but because we know she is with the Lord, we know we will see her again because her life had no end, and our friendship has no end. Dear, dear child, I don't know if you will read this, but we want you to know how much we love you, and because you love Jesus as we do, we know our friendship will have no end.