Friday, October 11, 2013

My friend "Jane"

This blog post is different.  I try to run a fun show around here…I tell funny stories about crap that happens to me, about the stupid things I get myself into, about my crazy friends and family.  This post is different.  It’s very serious, and very sad.  If you don’t want to read anything serious or sad, come back in a few days when I will return to my normal silly topics.

A friend of mine was murdered Monday.  Her killer was someone she loved, and someone who, before his mental illness consumed him, loved her.  I’ve been struggling all week about it.  Many of you reading this will know who they are…but because I’m planning to put this out there on my blog, I’m going to use the names Jane and John Doe.

Jane was one of the most devout Christian women I’ve known.  She was grace and kindness personified. She was good.  Just really, really good.  In a world that contains so much bad, she was just simply and amazingly good.  I worked with her for ten years, and occasionally socialized outside of work.  I have never seen her sad or mad or upset.  She always had something funny or sweet, or both, to say to me.  She was a smart engineer and a very pretty lady.  I cannot put the Jane I knew into any sort of context with violence.  She is the last person I would have thought would have her life end in a murder.  I can’t imagine anyone being mean to Jane, much less violently ending her life. 

Jane and John met, fell in love and married out at the job site where I still work.  John had left a few years ago; Jane was still out there, and I saw her almost every day.  I had been to Jane and John’s house for football parties.  My husband and I would see them out and about town.  We attended some of the same events together. I liked them both very, very much.  Even though I still saw Jane frequently at work, I had lost contact with John after he left.  As my daughter got older and more involved in extra-curricular activities, we didn’t see John and Jane socially anymore.  According to people who were still in touch with both of them, John apparently started suffering from some pretty serious mental health issues, particularly over the last year.  I understand he was seeing a psychiatrist and was trying to get well…but the last few months had gotten worse instead of better.  Jane had recently confided in a friend, “I want John to get better, but I’m afraid it’s getting to the point where I’m going to have to leave.”

Her death has been so hard for me to process.  A huge part of it is that she was SO faithful to her beliefs.  I want to ask God, “What are you thinking?  I don’t know anyone who tried so hard to do Your will!  Why did You let this happen?”  A mutual friend said to me yesterday that maybe Jane had too much love for John and too much faith in God.  Wow.  That pulled me up short.  Because I don’t believe there’s such a thing as too much love or too much faith.  I don’t know why God allowed this very, very loyal servant to suffer a violent death. But I do know that He set us all up to have free will.  And we are not promised that bad things will never happen to us.  What we as Christians ARE promised is that whatever happens in our lives…no matter how horrible it is, God will turn it into something good.  In this instance, I don’t know how that will be.  I cannot see it at all.  All I can see in this moment is that the world has less good in it…my life has one less wonderful person in it…Jane’s mother doesn’t have her daughter anymore…

On the other hand, I know that Jane is fine.  She is more than fine.  And I know that if God had asked her, “Jane, I have something I’m going to ask you to endure for Me…it’s going to be awful, it’s going to hurt….and it’s going to grieve the people you love.  But I will turn it into something good, and in the end, you’ll be with Me,” Jane would have been all, “Sign me up.”

I had a long conversation this morning with another co-worker over the phone.  I was off work today and had taken a break from my housework to call her and talk about Jane’s memorial service that will be going on this afternoon in Jane's mother’s hometown.  I won’t be able to attend, so I wanted to make sure Leslie got Jane’s mother’s address so that I can send her a letter this coming week.  I want to tell her what an impact her daughter made in my life.  Leslie and I shared our memories of Jane…we talked about her many, many virtues…we went over and over with each other how it’s just hard to grasp the meaning behind this…how hard it is to imagine how very, very horrible her last moments, or for all we know, hours were. Leslie and I hung up and I went back to vacuuming.  A few minutes later I had to stop and get down in the floor to untangle the matted dog and human hair wrapped around the vacuum’s rotating brush thingy...and had a sudden swift attack of the ugly cry.  I sat crossed legged in my foyer, sobbing and gasping and …and ripping clumps of hair out of the vacuum...and then thought of a poem that I half-remembered from years and years ago.  It was written by E.H. Hamilton about a friend of HIS that had been murdered while serving as a missionary:

Afraid? Of what?
To feel the spirit’s glad release?
To pass from pain to perfect peace,
The strife and strain of life to cease?
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
Afraid to see the Saviour’s face,
To hear His welcome, and to trace,
The glory gleam from wounds of grace,
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
A flash - a crash - a pierced heart;
Brief darkness - Light - O Heaven’s art!
A wound of His a counterpart!
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
To do by death what life could not -
Baptize with blood a stony plot,
Till souls shall blossom from the spot?
Afraid? Of that?

I put the vacuum up and turned my computer on…I decided I needed to get all of this out there…I need to express my grief, my confusion.  I need to pay tribute to my friend. And I need what she went through to mean something.  Please take something from this:

Don’t underestimate mental illness in a loved one. Get them help. Get them the LEVEL of help they need.  I wish John had been hospitalized so that he couldn’t hurt Jane or himself.

Be good. Be kind. Be cheerful. Be loving.  Jane’s death has left a shortage in the world.

Pray for me. Pray for Jane’s family. Pray for John’s. Pray for each other.

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