There are many friendships that fade away over time and space. There is nothing wrong with that. Life is a book with many chapters. As life goes on, so do the characters in our story. If we are blessed, we might have that one friendship that lasts throughout the story even when time and space separate your moments together along the way. I was blessed with such a friendship.
We saw each other daily for over ten years as we worked together. A change of job did little to limit us as we talked each day and often saw each other on weekends and always had our bi-annual yard sales to make sure we had plenty of time to keep up with each other. As my friend developed worsening diabetes, she lost her eyesight and then her kidney function and was on routine dialysis for year after year as she waited for a kidney transplant that never came. We saw each other less, but we still kept in contact. Once, she was hospitalized and death seem near as she had an infection in her foot that resulted in a few amputation surgeries. In ICU, only family members were allowed, but my friend, knowingI would be coming, lied telling the staff that her sister would be here soon and to make sure I was let in. As I arrived and asked for her by name I was told, “Oh, yes, we have been expecting you.” I stayed with her the whole time until God chose to heal her giving her several more years.
Finally, as my DeafBlindness worsened to the point that we had no means to communicate as she didn’t do computers, and I no longer had technology that would let me use a telephone, our contacts were less and less frequent. She always joked, though, that we had a mental connection to each other as we each instinctively knew when the other needed us. We had made sure when we felt the call to answer it no matter what it took. In the last five years that became almost impossible for me due to my DeafBlindness and the lack of a relay system usable for the DeafBlind. I continued to send messages through hearing-sighted people, but I don’t know how many of those she ever got. I prayed for her almost everyday.
The last time I got that feeling that she needed me and felt that intense need to pray was in March of 2013. I tried sending messages by asking friends to call her number. They left messages. We didn’t hear back. Finally, in June between my wedding anniversary and my birthday which is the 22nd and 26th respectively, I felt a peace every time I thought of her. I figured all was well in one way or another. I seldom mentioned her to my husband anymore. I just felt she was alright. The friends I asked to call left messages, but I heard nothing about my friend again.
On Valentine’s Day 2016, I finally felt able to try again to get the answer that I think I already knew. My husband checked and found her obituary on the internet. She died on June 20, 2013. You read that right. She died almost three years ago. She died when I finally felt at peace and didn’t think I needed to reach out anymore. I guess we did have a mental connection.
I write this now as her birthday approaches. It was that day, April 15th, of every year that I always made a point of trying to call her no matter what. The last year or two she was alive I wasn’t able to, but I didn’t forget. There just wasn’t anyone available to make a call for me.
Helen Keller wrote once that blindness separates a person from things, and deafness separates people from other people. I have to add that the barriers are amplified when you are deafblind. Deafblindness separates you from the world like a vast gulf of Dark silence.
You can reach out from the Dark Silence and find the world, but it takes not only you being willing and brave, but others who are willing and brave to go the distance to touch you. Those willing and brave are few. We must cherish each that do.
So, I find again that I must grieve differently in the Dark Silence. We can miss both in times of life and in times of death. In bringing us access to the world, some things have improved, but I dare say there is still much for which to fight. Everyone deserves a friend like I had, and a way to always stay in contact and share.
Happy Birthday, Mary Alice Lunsford Click, my best friend, my “sister”. I miss you, but I will see you again someday for I know you are Home safely.