From Chicken Soup for the Girlfriend's Soul

My Butterfly Friend

Carol and Fred were newcomers to our church. I wanted her to feel welcome, so I invited her to attend the monthly ladies’ luncheon with me. She hesitated. “I have a rare heart disease that can only be treated with experimental medication. I never know when I’m feeling up to doing something. I’d really like to, but I’d better not plan on it. I’m sorry.”

I was disappointed. I had immediately liked her and I wanted to get to know her better. She had such beautiful sparkling blue eyes and a smile that belied the fact that there was anything physically wrong with her.

As the months went by, we greeted each other in church, but every time an invitation was extended to do something, she refused. Still, Carol remained on my mind and in my heart, so I decided to try once more. This time, I invited her to attend a Bible study with me at another friend’s home. “I don’t even know if I could concentrate on the lesson. The heart medication slows everything down.” Then, softly, she added, “I think I’d like to try.”

As the weeks went by, Carol began to respond to the love shared at the study, and she participated more and more. Even when she wasn’t feeling her best, she made the effort to attend, and we began to see a transformation. God was touching her heart, physically and spiritually.

One morning as we visited in the church foyer, my friend Darlene said, “Let’s invite Carol to our pajama party!” This fun routine shared by Darlene and me had begun as a way to cure my loneliness when my husband was away on business trips. It seemed we never had enough time together, and there was always so much to talk and pray about. We invited Carol and were surprised and delighted when she said, “That sounds like fun! I’d love to come!”

She came through my door the next week with her arms loaded, then went back to the car to get her pajamas, pillow, comforter, teddy bear and everything else she needed to feel at home away from home. The three of us talked until the wee hours of the morning, and after a late breakfast, continued to talk on into the afternoon, still in our pajamas.

Many more pajama parties followed. Each time, the guest room Carol occupied became more and more like home, until she finally left her pillow, comforter and all the other things for the next time. Like a butterfly, she emerged from her cocoon.

Miraculously, more adventures began. We started going on little outings, then bigger and bigger ones. The highlight of our escapades was the three of us taking an overnight trip to attend Oprah. Eventually, trips to Disney World on her own were second nature to her.

But when her daughter called announcing Carol’s impending grandmotherhood, some of Carol’s old doubts resurfaced: “Can I be the kind of grandma I want to be? I want to have fun with my babies. I want to baby-sit for them, rock them, hold them and play with them.” Carol’s concerns about being physically able to care for her new grandson soon faded. The joy of holding him filled her heart to overflowing and her caregiving took over. And with the second grandchild, her heart’s capacity and her ability doubled.

Last week she called, exclaiming, “I’m going to Europe! Five days in Paris and five days in Austria to celebrate Holly and Andy’s anniversary. They want me to come to watch the grandkids while they enjoy evenings out. My doctor has given me permission to go! Can you believe it?”

I do believe it. Girlfriends and pajama parties are the best medicine.

Karen R. Kilby

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