THE ICING ON THE CAKE

THE ICING ON THE CAKE

From Chicken Soup for the Girlfriend's Soul

The Icing on the Cake

It takes a lot of understanding, time and trust to gain a close friendship with someone. As I approach a time of my life of complete uncertainty, my friends are my most precious asset.

Erynn Miller

Sharyn found life on the sidelines to be disconcerting.

Oh, sure, acquaintances stopped in, church members phoned regularly, and her sons kept in contact and ran errands. But she missed prowling the mall with girlfriends, participating in church meetings, even purchasing her own groceries. She missed running her own errands and puttering in the yard. She missed going. She missed doing.

And now, it seemed, she would miss her son’s December wedding.

Sharyn had dealt with illness her entire life. As a newborn, she suffered from rickets, and her health only proceeded to worsen. Allergies, asthma and other ailments hounded her until now, at fifty-five, her problems read like the index to a medical text:


Arthritis

Bedsores

Collagen disease

Degenerative

osteoporosis

s Sharyn needed heart and lung transplants, but wasn’t a candidate for either. Instead, committed to an elaborate schedule of pharmaceuticals, tethered to an oxygen tank and confined to a wheelchair, Sharyn teased that she preferred spending her time traveling. Traveling between her two homes: the house and the hospital. Actually, going anywhere else was out of the question, especially to her son’s out-of-state wedding ceremony.

Because no plane, train or car could accommodate Sharyn’s delicate health needs, she resigned herself to staying home while the rest of the family attended the wedding . . . without her. They left her with tender promises to remember all the details, to take lots and lots of pictures, and to save her some wedding cake.

During her husband’s absence, caregivers saw to her meals and personal needs, but Sharyn couldn’t shake her blues and feelings of isolation. It wasn’t easy finding herself apart from her family at Christmas and missing the festivities of her son’s wedding. The hurt followed her as surely as the oxygen tube trailing her wheelchair.

But she hadn’t counted on Vickie.

Vickie arrived with Big Plans: an old-fashioned girlfriends’ slumber party. She surprised Sharyn by bringing along her own holiday guest, their mutual friend Carol. She supplied chocolates to nibble, popcorn to munch, sodas to drink . . . and a lively video to watch from bed later that night. The three gabbed and giggled away the hours, pausing only to click on the lamps when evening dimmed the room.

And they talked about everything under the sun—everything, that is, except the wedding Sharyn was missing.

Instead, the two women bundled their fragile friend against the bitter Kansas wind and, with meticulous timing and coordination, managed to pack Sharyn—wheelchair, oxygen tank and all—into Vickie’s van. Chirping like excited elves, the three headed out for their version of a night on the town: a tour of attractive Christmas displays scattered around the small-town neighborhoods. They oohed over animated vignettes. They aahed at each crèche. They pointed out ribbon-wrapped wreaths, a window lit in peaceful blue and a lawn festooned in red candy canes. But Vickie saved the best for last.

“Now, Sharyn, close your eyes while I turn the corner to this house.” She maneuvered the car down the gravel road and stopped. “Okay, you can look.”

Sharyn opened her eyes and gasped.

Sparkling, twinkling and winking, thousands of tiny white lights outlined the winding drive like intricate frosting on a cake. A fantasy of winter white, they swagged the rows of arbors that canopied its entire length, like a powdering of a delicate angel dust.

The van inched its way under, through and along the enchanting path; the women barely breathed, wide-eyed and wordless.

“Oh, look!” Sharyn whispered. “It’s beautiful enough for a bride.” Her voice caught. “Why, it’s like a . . . a bridal arch!”

A sacred silence softened the air as all three pondered the thought.

“You know, Vickie,” Sharyn murmured into the hush, “others will bring home a piece of cake. But only a friend like you would bring me a piece of the wedding.”

Carol McAdoo Rehme

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