Monday, December 28, 2009

Sleep in Heavenly Peace, "Sister Kelly"

C and I are on vacation until January 4th.  For only that reason, I am taking a blogging break. I received a very sad phone call yesterday, and I wanted to write down my thoughts--

I met "Kelly" last September in my bible study group.  I'm so blessed to have the kind of women's ministry that I do-- in our large group of at least 100 women, we break down into tables of 8-10 women. We come from all walks of life-- realtors, school employees, secretaries and those who are unemployed and down in their luck. That was "Sister" Kelly. Kelly was attending her very first bible study ever.  I remember, someone from the church, offering her a free bible. "No," she said. "I want my own".

I observe people, and I watched Kelly with mild curiosity.  She had that look of someone who has seen hard times. 15 years as an Esthetician (licensed skincare specialist), taught me how to recognize signs of smoking, alcohol and drug use.  I pegged her somewhere in her late 30's to late 40's-- possibly 50, but that was a stretch.  She had a "hard" look on her face, and I think she felt overwhelmed about the whole "bible thing". Still, I could see a "Jesus Spark" in her.  I could tell that she was seeking to know the whole God thing.

The next week, Kelly showed up with her new bible-- with the cute index markers that I have on mine-- that helps me to find Mathew or James or Leviticus in a hurry.  She began to open up, as all of us do during these wonderful times together. A bible study group is a time of sharing our lives. It's a time of reading scripture and then sharing how this may or may not apply to our lives. I began to see laughter in Kelly's face-- I also saw tears being shed, as I've done many times.

Then, Kelly opened up to all of us-- she told us how she was 4 1/2 years clean from meth.  She shared with the group the pain of how her family has cut her off....and how her eleven year old son lives with his grandfather and stepgrandmother. Kelly asked us to pray for Parker, and that she would be allowed to see him again.  Pray for Kelly we did, indeed.  I cannot understand why children are the innocent victims.

In late November, I shared with the group about my son. All of it.  I was surprised how two women told me they had been through kids with drug problems-- all heroin.  Nobody judged me.  I told Kelly I was hoping to take my son to Celebrate Recovery. She beamed, and said she hoped to see us.

The next night, B and I walked into CR. There was Kelly-- beaming and motioning us over. As I sat next to her, she had tears in her eyes and said "I'm so happy you are here".  "Me, too", I said.  At "coffee", Kelly told us how meth had destroyed her life. She said that she once had a house, savings, a loyal clientele (she was a hairdresser) and life was good. Then meth came into her life. I never asked how and why-- she never shared how and why".  She looked at my son, and I could see that B wasn't into hearing the rest of her story. (B says he doesn't like to hear 'war stories').  I do, only because I think people find healing in sharing their stories. I think B doesn't want to hear it, because it's too real-- that's just my take on it. I could be wrong.

On December 5th, I went to the Women's Ministry Christmas Party.  I didn't really want to go, because I was tired. I had to deliver a cake I donated for the auction, and I saw all the hard work and decorations that dedicated women had done. It was beautiful!  So, I decided to go, even though I didn't have a girlfriend to accompany me-- figuring I'd sit anywhere and just try to fit in. Truth be told, I can be a little shy in a large group of strangers.  In short time, I realized that nobody was a stranger-- though there were several hundred women!  We are all Sisters in Christ! In walked Kelly, all alone.  I immediately invited her to sit next to me. We laughed and shared in some ice breaker games.  We went into the buffet area, where there were chocolate fountains-- six of them!  I don't like chocolate all that much, except for white chocolate.  I spotted an abandoned white chocolate fountain, and saw pineapple chunks! Bingo! Kelly looked at me, not sure what to do. I showed her how to dip it and then I popped this tasty morsel  into my mouth. She copied me.  Her eyes grew big, and she smiled. 

I will, forever, remember that moment-- two women, indulging in one of my favorite treats of all time. We giggled. We laughed, as the line for dark chocolate snaked around the room.  We felt victorious that we found our private chocolate fountain-- and she told me about her car accident, just the week before. I had noticed she was wearing a neck collar. Kelly said that she must have had a seizure-- she blacked out, hit a telephone pole and totaled her SUV.  She said the cops arrested her, but she tested clean for alcohol.  She was prescribed pain pills, and she said she still hurt quite a bit.  She couldn't remember what kind, when I asked.  "N-something", she said.

"Norco?", I offered.

"Yeah, Norcos!".

Oh, Lord. That's how my son got introduced to opiates.  I warned her to be very careful of that.

As the night wore on, we enjoyed the Christmas concert we sang Christmas Carols". We both started to yawn, and hugged goodbye.

I thought to myself, "I should invite Kelly to lunch".  She seemed such a lonely person...with a lot of pain in her life.

Kelly died 12 days later, this December 17th.  It is said that she mixed her antidepressants with her pain pills and never woke up again.

Kelly was 41 years old.  She touched my life, even if just for a few months.

When another woman, from my group, called me (crying), I said "let's pray". I could hear "L" crying, but I felt such joy and relief that Kelly is in such a better place. She beat me there!  My thoughts are with her son, now. Will he remember her? Has his heart been poisoned by the family who cannot forgive her? Do they know the pain and torment this caused Kelly?

Only a true believer in the promises of Jesus, can understand why I feel that Kelly has been released from her pain and suffering. She truly is in the bosom of our Lord Jesus.  She is Home.  I'm so thankful that Kelly found the Lord, if only a few months ago. It was a Christian friend who encouraged Kelly to check out Celebrate Recovery and to join her first bible study group. Her friend said that Kelly  said "the prayer", that is so simple to say-- that will set us free, and guarantee that we will be in heaven, at the hour of our death.

Lord, Jesus.  I accept you as my Lord and Savior.  I believe that you are the son of God.  Please forgive me for all of my sins. Thank you for dying on the cross, that I may be forgiven and washed clean of my past.   I ask that you come into my heart, and into my life, right now that I may have eternal life with you. Amen.

I've heard so many versions of this prayers-- some so eloquent, they still make me weep. This is my own very simple and humble prayer. I prayed that prayer 13 years ago, and I have never looked back at my past life as an unbeliever.  I am still a sinner, but I am a new person.  I seek to be obedient to God, knowing that I need to seek to understand my purpose in life-- to worship and follow God.

Have you said that prayer?

I know that I will see Kelly again.  I will always remember her.  I pray for her son, Parker, that he will one day know how much she loved him and missed him. I pray for her family, who hated her so much that they cut her off from seeing her own flesh and blood.  Sadly, there will be no service for Kelly. Her family withheld telling anyone of her death, for at least a week.  How very sad.

Because of Jesus' birth, death at the cross, and resurrection-- we are living in grace.  Grace is giving forgiveness to those who don't deserve it.  God has given me grace. I know I don't deserve it! But that's the depth of his love for everyone of us.

I'm so thankful that Kelly found that.  She is pain-free, drug-free and I will see her again.

I know this.


Mom of Opiate Addict said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. Her memory will live on in those that hold her dear to them as you do. I felt like I knew just a piece of her from the little you shared and yes, she is home. Hope your vacation is peaceful and relaxing.

Barbara aka Layla said...

Losing a friend is so difficult, especially when unexpected. Kelly was blessed to get to have you in her life recently.

Happy Anniversary! Have a wonderful romantic time with C.

LisaC said...

My relationship with God is still a "work in progress." Thank you for reaching out to Kelly.

Monica H said...

I am so sorry to hear about your friend but I'm glad she had you, and you had her.

Madison said...

Families who put up strong boundaries around young children are my heroes. I'm glad the 4-year old was not in the car. You heard one side of an addict's story. Maybe this precious family who felt that addiction left them with no other choice but distance will take comfort in knowing that God's hand was on Kelly days before she died. While addicts like to blame their pain on those around them, their pain is a direct result of addiction - not the families who more than likely love them. In fact, if families don't adjust their definition of love when around an addict, the 'love' can be very harmful. Just a comment to stick up for Kelly's family. I'm very sorry for the unhappy ending brought on by Kelly's disease. A life cut short many years before she died.

Anonymous said...

I so whole heartedly agree. I love my daughter more than life itself, but we cannot have a relationship anymore because of her addiction. I am practicing tough love, the hardest thing I have ever done. I don't know what she tells people about me, and I can't care about it. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend.
God bless,

Kathy M. said...

This is a very sad story. I've also wondered why so many innocent victims are children. My heart goes out to Kelly's son.

Heather's Mom said...

My gosh, I could barely get through your post, I figured where it was going from the title. I can imagine how hard this was for you, but I am glad you have good memories, that she had God, and that you know you will see her again. There were many pieces of this post that were poignant (I think that's the word!) - spoke right to me and things to think about.
God bless you.

Angelo said...

You writings are so powerful. I cried like a girl. Either kelly abused the norcos or her doctor should be in jail. I'm more angry now knowing Kelly didn't get a chance to really enjoy her recovery. This disease sucks. If an addict can't have there drug of choice and you give them a alternative it's likely they will abuse that to. Her doctor should have known she was on a antidepressent. I'm rambling. I'm not sure if you realize how well you write. Your story brought out such emotions in me from crying to anger about the situation.
Anyway I'm hope B is doing his methadone and doing well. I hope the new Year brings some positive changes.


Cheri said...

Debby, I'm so sorry for your loss, and rejoice with you that you will again see Kelly in eternity. Thank you for sharing the road to salvation here. I pray that God leads many to read it and respond.

Hope you have a good vacation...