Editor’s note: Following is a page from my spiritual journal.

The overcast sky produced a milky light that slanted through Venetian blinds in the room where I sat at a table with ten others. Thursday mornings, we meet to share our experiences with finding God and using that Spirit of the Universe in our lives.

Looking out  the Venetian blinds

Looking out the Venetian blinds

When I arrived, Sandy was sitting in my usual seat near the door. No matter. I set my purse and book on the table to her left and pulled out a chair. As I settled, the woman across from us at the table, leaned toward Sandy and asked, “How are you?”

I knew Sandy was having chemo treatments. And my ears perked up, listening for her reply. My friend said, “I stopped taking the chemo.”

A sharp silence filled our end of the table. Like the other woman, I held back “Why?” and I waited to hear Sandy tell her story.

She opened up. “I was so sick from the treatment, I ended up in the emergency room.”

Sandy took a breath and went on. “Once they let me go, I decided to stop the chemo.” She paused and looked at us in turn. “ I want to live my last days. Vomiting and lying in bed isn’t living. It’s existing.” Sandy took a breath and added, “Besides, I believe prayer works even better than chemo.”

The other woman said something I didn’t quite hear and I withdrew into myself trying to digest what Sandy had said.

After a minute or so,

Sandy leaned over and handed me the white envelope I had given her three days earlier. It contained proposals for several Ninepatch stories.

I wasn’t ready to say anything meaningful to her. I knew she believed in the personal energy force (chi) that surrounds a person so I joked, “I have your chi on this envelope! I can feel it!”

She grinned, “Yeah, my chi is all over the thing!”

At ten o’clock the chair lady started the meeting, “Let’s have a moment of silence.” I took a deep breath and, during that brief space while I let it out silently, I pled to my Higher Power: Let me see what you would have me see, hear what you would have me hear, say what you would have me say, know what you would have me know and be who you would have me be.

The chairperson began the meeting, “Let’s begin with The Serenity Prayer.” We all joined her as she began, God, Grant me the serenity…” Turning plastic-covered pages that guide whoever chairs the meeting, the chairwoman read the standard opening and asked for announcements. Readings and discussion followed.

An hour later, the leader invoked the usual closing which ended, “Will all who care to, join me in the closing prayer.”

A scuffling of books being put away, purses moved and chairs sliding against carpet filled the room as women stood to pray. Creating a circle, we held each others’ hands. The chairlady said, “Let’s have a moment of silence to remember those we wish were here with us, and matters on our hearts. We’ll follow with the prayer.”

The room dipped into total silence and after a moment the leader began, “ God, I offer myself to Thee… .”

I knew the words, but that day I never found my voice. Instead, a wave of emotion washed over me. For an instant I felt as if I had been pulled under water. I could not breathe. Once I inhaled again, a strong sadness fill my being.

Wait! I’m not sad. I’m not the least bit upset today.

No matter what my brain told me, the feeling continued.

Centering myself, I stopped thinking and took a deep breath.

Slowly, I let it out. I’m holding Sandy’s hand. I must have picked up her deep feelings about her impending death.

Then I remembered that Sandy had shared her beliefs about death, “We don’t die, “ she had said, “We just cross over. No worries.!”

I peeked sideways at her. She looked unchanged as she repeated the prayer.

I closed my eyes. God, Let me be neutral and open –an instrument of peace for Sandy.

Our prayer ended and everyone began talking at once.

I said nothing to my friend. I just smiled, nodded “goodbye” and left the meeting.

Sitting in my car, I thought back over the hour I’d spent with the women and what Sandy had said. I relived what I had felt while holding her hand during the closing prayer. I thought of Sandy.

Such courage! I thought a prayer for my friend. May she have strength and peace along her chosen path.

I added a request for myself: May I have Sandy’s courage when my own time comes.

Frances Fritzie

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