She is just a little girl. Thirteen years old but nine inside, like a lot of middle schoolers. Experimenting with makeup, being flirted with but never actively flirting to the boys in her class. Insecure yet wearing a cocky attitude. That’s Lena.
Life is rough when you’re a kid. You may not think so because your life is tougher as an adult, but you forget what it’s like when your friends mean the world to you and your world falls apart.
Lena’s friend Abigail got sick. Badly sick. Missing the school semester sick, in and out of hospitals sick, closing herself off to her friends sick.
Abigail wouldn’t return Lena’s texts. Was it even possible she had her phone turned off? She went to her friend’s house and rang the bell. Mrs. Gates answered and said, “Abigail isn’t seeing any visitors, I’ll let her know you stopped by.”
And just like that Lena was down one best friend.
It’s really hard to replace your bestie. Nobody else gets you like they do. You’re not as comfortable with somebody else in the same way you were comfortable with them. Lena couldn’t be her own weird self with a different best friend – she had to pretend to be normal.
Eighth grade didn’t turn out as planned.
It was a lonely second half of the year. Lena was nervous about high school next year. How would she manage all on her own? And she was worried about Abigail. How does it feel to be so sick that you can’t even stay in touch with your friends?
She had her answer one week before graduation. That’s when Abigail came back.
She looked different, approximately 20 pounds lighter and her hair was cut real short. They sat together at lunch the first day and Lena tried to restore what they once had, but somehow the silliness they shared was out of place.
Abigail wanted to talk about the past months of illness and how she felt about forging friendships with doctors instead of other kids. She knew Lena couldn’t understand her fear and (hopefully) would never know from the pain she experienced. She was afraid if she talked about her disease it would gross out Lena and the other friends they formerly hung with.
Some people let their illness define them. They wallow in it, they feel sorry for themselves, their world shrinks to the existence between doctor visits and the hope they cling to with every test and each treatment.
But Abigail wasn’t “some people” at least not towards the end of her crisis. She chose to rise above it. She brought God in to her circle and began to believe in a divine healing. She wasn’t disappointed.
So now the two friends sit at the end of a long lunch table and they talk about what’s next. Lena draws from a budding strength encouraged by Abigail’s honesty and she makes a suggestion:
“Let’s not waste our time the way we used to; being selfish, being shallow. Let’s not take anything or anyone for granted. Let’s hang out only with kids who appreciate what they have and want to help others.”
It was a mature and thoughtful Lena who knew enough to learn and grow from the past months’ trials.
That’s the way God wants it. Every illness, all the troubles, each setback, needs to strengthen the weak and embolden the strong.
And that’s exactly what happened to the newly reunited two best friends.
By Susan Diamond
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