When I lived in Colorado I used to go over to my friend Katrina’s house all the time. Sometimes we’d just sit and talk, but mostly, I integrated myself into her crazy, beautiful life. Together we’d pick up her kids from school, run errands, or tidy up around her house. I loved cleaning her bathroom, playing with her kids, or cooking a casserole for her family, not because of selflessness, but rather because of selfishness: I was lonely and yearned to be around this loving family. Over time, I began to feel as if Katrina’s family was my own, and simply put, I loved them.
When I was first diagnosed with cancer, Katrina and her family were the first people to send me flowers in the hospital. And even more importantly, I knew that Katrina and her family were praying for me and John Paul. But the most amazing thing Katrina did for me was offer to leave her wonderful family for a week and spend time with me while I was undergoing chemotherapy.
During my sixth and last cycle of chemo, Katrina lived with Mike, John Paul, and me, integrating herself into our crazy, beautiful life. She drove me to all of my doctor appointments, cooked for us, and tidied up around the house. She cared for all of us, hugging me while I cried and rubbing my head while I rested, feeding and snuggling with John Paul as if he were her own son, and drinking a beer and chatting with Mike, providing the normalcy for him that was exactly what he needed. Simply put, she loved us.
There are times when I feel God’s presence so near to me that the very sensation takes my breath away. I’ve experienced moments during worship or adoration where I can feel a connection with God in the very depths of my soul, and I am filled with His love. It’s hard to even put into words the peace I’ve felt in those moments. And during those times, I fully believe in the beauty of life, here on earth and eternally.
However, life often gets messy and difficult, and because of my own human weakness and stubbornness I don’t always recognize God in my life during the hard times. I turn away, afraid and full of doubt. But God is merciful, and I’ve come to realize that it’s during the times I turn away that He finds other ways to fill me with His love. During those times, people in my life become His hands and feet, and this has never been so clear to me as during the past few months of my experience with cancer. Just when I felt like giving up and giving in to loneliness and despair last year, I met Katrina and her family. And just when I felt like giving up and giving in to pain and fear during my last cycle of chemotherapy, God once again used my dear friend to reach me. God, in His great mercy, Has used my friend Katrina, and many other people in my life, to shelter me in His love. And it is in this shelter that I am reminded, in the difficult moments of life as well as the beautiful, that I never walk alone.
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