Earlier this week I got news that a school friend of mine had passed. Her name was Cindy Marie (Benson) Ridgeway. She was 38 yrs old. It hit me rather hard to say the least. I had known Cindy since the 3rd grade. As soon as I heard about this I knew I had to go to the funeral. There was something inside of me that was just telling me that I needed ...had to go to the service.
Although I had known Cindy since the 3rd grade we were not close nor did we keep in touch. I hadn't spoken to her in years, yet I considered her a friend. I had known her since the 3rd grade. We were in Girl Scouts together. I just couldn't imagine not going, ya know? Ever since I have known her she always suffered with asthma and breathing problems, but that was all I ever knew. Her passing came as a shock to me.
I found out that she had an auto -immune disease, back problems and all of her breathing problems as well. I also learned that because of her illnesses she was never able to work. She went to school and got degrees but not her bachelors. She didn't have a job. She married in 2000 to a wonderful man, John. I met him at the service and you could tell he really loved her. She didn't have any children, but still had animals (she was always an animal lover).
As her father, best friend, cousins and husband all spoke about her, it was as if God had sent me a special little message. It became very apparent as to why I was suppose to be there. This was a message to me, clearer than any other I have ever received. I felt as if God was talking to me, one on one. I know that might sound strange to some, but it was loud and clear to me. I came to learn that Cindy and I were more alike then I could have imagined. I knew that when I pass I wanted people to remember me that way as well.
They all spoke of her as having an illness but she never complained. She always had a smile on her face and went on about her day. She was very involved in family and friends and lived for those moments. She always made sure that when it came to birthdays, she had a present that was just right for that person, that it was wrapped extra special and the cards were always decorated with stickers and filled with confetti. I think when I heard that part, I might have giggled out loud, because anyone that knows me, knows I do the same thing. ( I was always the one at the office that made sure the employee's desks or offices were decorated and had gifts and cake.) They went on to say that she was always there to lend a helping hand to anyone she could, she was a great listener and was always there for her friends. Since she never complained no one "really knew or understand" what she was going through. No one really got how much pain she was in on a daily basis, how much she could or couldn't handle. That was her way of coping, you know, always saying "I'm fine". She took care of everyone else and didn't really let anyone else see her pain and suffering.
I totally get that. Whether you want to call that protecting the ones around you or a coping mechanism, whatever you want to call it, if it works, you seem to use it. I know that is something that I have done and continue to do.
As I was sitting there, I realized that you can be a "somewhat" normal person and still have things that I want. She had a loving marriage. I have dreamt of having a relationship for awhile but have never really pushed it because of me being sick. I have been pretty down because I have not been working for a year. I feel as if I "look" sick all the time. I could go on, but I won't.
I went to the service and I knew that there were going to be people that I had not seen in 20 years. I was worried about that more then anything I think. I don't look like I did back then. I am sick now. I am heavier now, I can't find my words as easily as I should be able to, I get exhausted very easily. When I saw the girls, it was really good to see them. It was a bit scary, but so good to see them. They all told me how good I looked (I am sure they were just being nice!). None of them know I am sick. It is not something I go around telling everyone.
After hearing what everyone said about Cindy it really made me realize that there are other people out there like me. It is possible to have a relationship even though I am sick and not able to do all the daily things that "normal, healthy" people do. It takes me a bit longer now to complete some of the more physical tasks. I still have a positive attitude and smile on my face.
I guess it was like a message. It gave me hope and made me realize that it is all possible and that I shouldn't just settle. It made me realize that it is OK that I am off of work right now. Although I plan to go back to work eventually, it would be OK, if for some reason I wasn't able to because somehow things would work out. I know more now then ever that all is going to be OK and although times are tough, I have to try not to worry, and not to stress.
I have been asking for a sign or a message or something forever (OK well it seems like that anyway!). . . funny how they say he works in mysterious ways. . . he sure does. . . the message was perfectly timed.