Looking For the Good by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche. 2023

This week has been a tough one for my friends and their families.  I grieve because of what they are enduring.  Some I cannot share.  Some I can.

My friend Joyce died.  Unexpectantly.  In her last text to me, two days before her death, she wrote this: “I’ve got my eyes on The Prize…Jesus…”  Little did Joyce know that she would meet her “Prize” a short time later.  The day before, she had asked her friends to send her cards so she could post them on the wall in her care facility room.  If Joyce was praying for you, you can be sure she never missed a day.

My girlfriend “Sarah” phoned and reacquainted me with the term “mean girls” who obviously are alive and not well. I don’t understand what makes them tick. Her granddaughter “Jessie,” a student at a new school, had made friends with three girls. After moving several times because of her parents’ divorce and remarriages, this was the first time she had close friends.  Jessie’s invitation to prom gave her renewed confidence.  All four girls would meet at Jessie’s house to dress for the prom where Jessie’s mother, thrilled about her daughter’s excitement, created a potato bar for the girls and their dates.

When Sarah arrived at her granddaughter’s house to take pictures, the mood had changed.  Jessie’s date had phoned and said that he was not able to drive and asked if Jessie’s dad could drop her off at the prom.  Strange, but what else could she do?  When none of the friends arrived at her house, Jessie called them.  No one answered.  Sarah made excuses and attempted to encourage her granddaughter that this “obviously” was some goof-up.  Jessie needed to go to the dance where, surely, everything would be explained.

Fifteen minutes after Jessie was dropped off at prom, she called her dad, asking that he pick her up.  None of the girls were talking to her, and her “date” acted as if she didn’t exist.  My friend cried for three days and then called me.  “I have some advice,” I said.  “Drive up to Jessie’s school and greet the three girls when they leave.  Ask them what pleasure they had in destroying your granddaughter’s confidence and belief that they were her friends. And then meet her “date,” and knock him unconscious. (And yes, I know that this is not what Christians do…but remember, even Jesus got angry.)

The next night, a text came from one of my five college friends who meet up annually for a reunion.  She had been on a date-night with her husband.  He choked on a piece of steak and died. Waiters had attempted the Heimlich but to no avail.  What a horror for my friend to watch!

I tried to find blessings out of such sadness.  Joyce had been struggling for the past year with health issues.  Jessie didn’t need “friends’ like these mean girls.  My sorority friend’s husband had been dealing with early-onset-dementia, had to move out of his house and was grieving because of it.  God knew all of that…and more.

How does one know how God is working?  Because He’s always working.  His permissive will allows things to occur that we do not understand.  When I opened my emails today, this appeared: “God absolutely longs to help us in our hurt.”  He does that by offering Heaven to those who love Him and accept the gift of His son.  When I think of my two friends’ deaths, I know that their last breath here on earth became their first breath in eternity. They loved Jesus. They are so much better off than we are.

Their physical and mental deficiencies are no more.  No pain.  No sorrow.  Only pure joy.  As for my friend’s granddaughter, I pray that God leads her to a “real” friend…hopefully one that will last and love her unconditionally.  A perfect friend like Jesus.

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