19: A Miraculous Second Chance at Friendship

19: A Miraculous Second Chance at Friendship

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

A Miraculous Second Chance at Friendship

A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.

~Donna Roberts

Kimberly came into my life when I was the single mother of a middle-school son and the owner of a thrift store. New to west central Ohio, blond and in her early twenties, Kim would occasionally stop by my secondhand shop to chat. We instantly connected and spent lots of time together over the next decade. I was a bridesmaid at her wedding and watched her start her family. Then, when she moved out West, we lost touch. That is, until the phone call came almost a decade later.

“Kimberly’s in the hospital. It’s cancer. The doctors aren’t giving her much hope,” a mutual friend called to tell me. Kim had moved back to Ohio by then. The following day, I drove over a hundred miles to be at her side during her first chemotherapy treatment. It was as if we had never been apart.

By then, I had remarried, and almost miraculously, we soon moved only ten miles away from Kimberly. This allowed us time to reconnect, and to share our families with each other.

Over the next couple of years, I watched helplessly as Kimberly bravely endured countless treatments trying to fight the deadly disease. Occasionally, my husband and I took her wonderful children out for an evening when she was in the hospital.

At the beginning, Kim made a promise that her life would not be about the cancer, but about the living. That’s why whenever we got together we talked tirelessly, like two best friends on borrowed time. I would pick her up and we would go to lunch and giggle like schoolgirls, despite her oxygen tank and growing tumors.

Then about a month before her passing, I happened to watch the classic movie Beaches on TV. It’s about best friends going through the same thing as Kimberly and I. In the movie, Hillary, played by Barbara Hershey, is terminally ill, and C.C., a famous singer played by Bette Midler, rushes to be at her side.

When C.C. sings the song “Wind Beneath My Wings,” it portrays her admiration and undying love for her courageous friend. The lyrics say, “Did you ever know that you’re my hero?” Silently, I prayed that seeing that movie wasn’t heavenly preparation for losing my own best friend, who grew weaker each day.

She was hanging on, wanting to be with her husband and children. I had never seen such great faith. Even when doctors said there was no more that could be done, we continued to pray for the miracle she desperately wanted.

Then it seemed as if she let go and began reaching for Heaven. One evening, I sat at her bedside holding her hand, as tears of gratitude for our second chance at friendship ran down my cheeks.

At eight the next morning, the phone call came. My beautiful blond friend had breathed her last earthly breath. The morning after Kimberly’s funeral, I woke up feeling so empty. I listlessly dragged myself to my Pilates class. Leaving the gym, I noticed a garage sale sign on the corner. It was a perfect autumn day. The sun was shining, the sky was vivid blue, and the trees were covered with colorful fall leaves. Still, my heart was unbearably heavy. I didn’t feel like going to the sale, but it was as if some unseen presence led me there.

While absentmindedly looking over the merchandise, I spied a musical water globe, the kind my elderly father collects. Inside was an angel dressed in an aqua and lilac robe with long golden hair. The angel was lovingly embracing a small child, and her white-feathered wings were covered with iridescent sparkles.

The globe was only two dollars. Impulsively, I paid for it. Later, when I wound the musical key, it began to play the tune “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Instantly, I realized it was no coincidence that I had gone to that garage sale or purchased that globe.

That same afternoon, one of the movie channels showed Beaches again. This time, I sobbed as I watched it, allowing myself to begin grieving my dearest friend’s loss. Yet, I was also joyful as I realized that God had sent me a garage sale angel to remind me that Heaven is real, and that Kimberly would be waiting there.

The globe now sits in a prominent place in the glass cabinet in my living room. After a decade apart, I am so thankful that my heroic best friend and I remained inseparable until the very end, and that I now have the angel to remind me of her every day.

~Christina Ryan Claypool

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