61: My Soul Friend

61: My Soul Friend

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven

My Soul Friend

The language of friendship is not words but meanings.

~Henry David Thoreau

Communication between best friends does not always consist of spoken words. I believe that spiritual connections and the language of faith and love between family, friends or lovers transcend physical barriers. I know for a fact that God presents gifts in ways we cannot completely, and sometimes not even remotely, comprehend.

My friend Rose and I had a way of communicating with a few syllables, fractured phrases, grunts, or uh-huhs. We could make inferences and connections with a minimum of conversation, and it drove our kids crazy. We had a connection that stretched through time and place, across miles and over the years.

I visited Rose in the hospital every day for a week as her strength and life were waning. She was heavily sedated and struggling to hold on. One night I sat on the windowsill ledge in her room, thinking, praying, wondering, and reminiscing.

Our twenty-five-year friendship became one-sided when Rose developed terminal cancer. When she was heavily medicated and hallucinating, I would sit in her kitchen and color in Christmas coloring books with her the way we used to with our little girls two decades before. When she had a good day, I took her places she had to go and went with her to places she wanted to go. We spent her last days shopping and eating out. We sat in the car in “our” parking spot at the ice cream stand as we did when we were young mothers struggling to carve time out of our busy days just for us.

Over the course of our friendship, we parented each other’s children, leaned on each other in our times of trouble, and encouraged one another through unhappy first marriages. We survived junk cars that broke down, and many weeks we struggled to make ends meet. We attended PTA meetings, home decorating parties, and wished each other a lifetime of happiness at one another’s second marriages.

Now, we had just one more struggle, one that could not be won. It is never easy to fight a losing battle. I looked at her lying so helplessly in her hospital bed. I prayed that her transition from this life could be easier. I hoped for a beautiful afterlife.

Her doctor entered the room and asked for a conference. “She’s in her last hours, but nobody knows for sure. It could be today or tomorrow.”

I cried as I watched my friend’s body fade. Her husband, daughter, sister and I said our farewells. At 11:00 p.m. I told her family I would be back in the morning. I walked over to the side of Rose’s bed and told her how much her friendship had meant. Then, instead of leaving the room, I felt compelled to return to the window ledge and sit back down. The television was on for background noise; all of us were seated around the room, lost in our own thoughts.

Then, in a strong, clear and younger voice, I heard Rose call my name as she had many years before. I couldn’t believe my ears. I looked over at her bed, thrilled, and wondered how she had gotten the strength to speak. I wondered why everyone in the room wasn’t on their feet rejoicing. Actually, my friend was comatose.

I sat and tried to make sense of what had happened. I was completely lucid, not hallucinating. I wondered if someone in the hall had called to someone with my name, but it was after visiting hours, and no one was around. I looked from one to the other of her family members, but no one had seemed to hear what I heard. I didn’t mention it. I watched as my friend’s breathing became shallow. Then in amazement I witnessed the most incredible sight. I saw a gauzy, white apparition rise from Rose’s body and float to the ceiling. I watched it hover in a corner, and then it slowly faded away. I opened the curtain and rationalized that I must have seen a reflection of car lights, but behind me there was a brick, windowless building.

A few minutes later my best friend officially passed from this world. I know her soul headed heavenward, because I watched her spirit leave her body.

A year later my adult son had a serious motorcycle accident. I rushed to the hospital. He wept in the emergency room. “Mom, Rose came to me as I lay on the road waiting for the ambulance. I could see her. She held my head. She was with me, Mom, and she told me I would be okay.”

And he was okay. He recovered. I believe my son’s “other mother” came to comfort him. I also believe that when people are connected spiritually, they don’t need a rational explanation for the unexplainable.

~Linda O’Connell

More stories from our partners