"I don't want to live anymore," she wrote in an email to me.
She said, "Our stories are very similar, but I'm a couple of decades older than you, my husband is gone, my children are estranged, and I have Stage 4 cancer. I can't think of a single reason to stay, and I'd rather be finished."
We've never met in the face-to-face sense, but I've been having coffee with her for years. Each day, I rattle off something on my mind, take it all out on my keyboard, and she signs on the next morning to see what's new.
Oh, virtual world, how small you are.
I picked up the phone and called her that day, long ago. I wasn't sure how serious she was about wishing for her life to end, I didn't know if she was a threat to herself, and a phone call was something I could do. A small something.
I said, "Maryellen, I believe I understand how you feel, and I won't try to talk you out of taking your life. Just not today, okay? Just don't do it today."
I gave her the secret to my own livelihood during my endless winter.
When I was tempted to do something damaging, I reminded myself, "Just not today."
When I wanted to do something brave, I reminded myself, "Just do the next thing."
Time and disease have taken their toll and run their course, and Maryellen has lived each day with doses of 'just do the next thing' and 'just not today.'
She wrote to me again this week. She said,
"I have been placed in hospice care, and my days are short. I have loved you letting me in, and I have loved reading every post. Thank you for helping me in the dark places. I cannot wait to meet Robb and tell him how great you are. You have eased my way. I love you, my sweet friend."
I feel like I am standing at an airport terminal, sending her to a place I can't wait to see. Like I've tucked a love note in her pocket.
See you someday, Maryellen.
I used to work with your dad and recently moved in the town where your mom is the director of ministries at Southeast Christian Church. I was searching for a church nearby and was surprised to see your dad walk up and greet me. Your mom has made the church very welcoming for my family. I have seen several posts on Facebook that your dad has posted. You have an amazing family that is very proud of you. They have been a blessing to me. I hope to meet you one day.
tears!!! thank you again for telling your story... there are many more Maryellens out there that you have unknowingly (this side of Heaven) helped!
How wonderful of you Tricia to help this dear lady. This story touched me. Thank you.
I'm Crying. Crying. Crying. Trisha, you are a life preserver, an inspiration, a million hearts all wrapped up into one. I hope to have someone just like you if and when I am in dire need. I love you, my friend....
This post was beautiful and brought me to tears. Thank you for opening your heart to us, and to Maryellen. You have such an amazing heart and I'm glad I have found you, too. God bless.
Your writing has encouraged me as well! What a blessing you are to so many. Please don't ever stop writing, even on the dark days. I will always be grateful to my friend Kara who took me to the Women's Conference in Akron last fall to hear you speak.