i’ve been thinking about friendship this week. thursday i’ll post my recent thoughts on the topic, but for today i’m reposting one of my best friend’s stories…
“tell me again about when you died.”
i’ve asked her this before and she’s told me the same story, but i want to hear it again.
“i don’t know if i died or not.”
she won’t speak with authority on what she can’t understand even though it happened to her.
she fell some fifty feet off a cliff in ireland. first her heel was crushed as it caught her full weight, breaking next her knee and then the hip. her hands went out to catch by instinct, breaking both wrists and her arm. finally she landed on her face, fracturing everything.
each bone in her face was broken and she lay bleeding out her life. she landed on the shore. it happened in seconds. somehow she landed in between two large rocks on the sand instead of upon them.
and somehow she survived.
the doctors told her after she woke up, after the vision – that if she’d landed any other way but directly on her face, she would have been dead or worse. any slight turn of the head would have meant a different ending to her story.
but for her, coming to in that hospital bed was worse. not because of the wreckage of her mortal frame all those weeks, but because she wanted to be back in the dream-vision that was realer than any moment she had known.
she’d seen a place where she could look upon her body from above. she was back on the cliff now. she watched the blood seep into the sand on the beach and pool around her downturned face. and she decided then to leave. she threw her hands up, done with that body, the one that could break. she walked toward more life and more ability to feel that life than she is able to describe.
“nothing mattered. not my family. not my friends. not that i’d fallen. nothing. it was life, real life and i was more fully alive than i’d ever been. i could taste color! i tasted the color green. it was…perfect.”
she was angry when she woke up in the hospital after tasting life abundant.
she was angry at god.
not because the cliff gave way and not because she was broken now, but because he brought her back. he took her from paradise and put her back in the body that she had walked away from.
“i’m not special. after people heard my story they would always say, ‘god must have a reason you’re still here. he’s got big plans for you! – but it’s not true. there’s nothing special about me. it happened. i think that i had to go through it to be humbled. i went from being fiercely independent to not being able to do anything on my own. i couldn’t eat, i didn’t have teeth! i couldn’t get out of bed on my own, i couldn’t walk. i had to depend on everybody for everything. it completely changed me.”
we walk back to our hotel and after days of visiting i tell her that we’ve run out of stories. that i don’t have anything else that makes me terribly interesting company and she says this,
“i’m okay with that, too.”
she says it quiet, like she’s been waiting for me to come to the end of myself. like she knew i might finally admit i didn’t have any more to offer and that she’d be there to tell me it was okay.
and i felt safe in my skin with my friend who has saved more lives than she knows.