For the last couple of years, I have been visiting a friend with ALS because she has been housebound. Until then, she and I weren't close. We went to the same church and then were friends on Facebook. We didn't share the same theological or political views. But, we have been friends.
ALS is a miserable disease. It can start in a couple of different ways. In Rachel's case, it started with weakness in her legs. Slowly, the weakness spread up her body. At first, she used a walker for mobility, then a regular wheelchair, then a series of electric wheelchairs. Most recently, she used an electric wheelchair that had to be tipped back since she couldn't hold herself up. She had one finger that she could use for Facebook or changing settings on her wheelchair. For several months, family members or caregivers have had to feed her as well as provide all other care.
Rachel loved to sing, but paralysis of her chest muscles made speaking a challenge, much the less singing. She was passionate about using natural treatments for her ALS, something that challenged me as an allopathic physician. However, she lived a great deal longer than she was expected to. Rachel and I didn't talk about politics or the theological issues that divided us. Talking about Jesus' love and the challenges of life with chronic illness along with our families kept us busy for several hours each week. Being moms was more than enough to keep us talking and laughing!
I would usually visit Rachel once every week or two. She and I had a nice visit on Thursday. We talked for over an hour about all kinds of things - my upcoming vacation, her daughters' current activities
Since then, Rachel has deteriorated significantly. She barely recognizes anyone. She's not eating or drinking. It's not long before she meets Jesus. And Rachel knows Jesus. And she always wanted to make sure everyone else knew Jesus.
I got to say my good-byes to Rachel today. She barely nodded, but I think she heard me. She's going to see Jesus, though. How happy she will be to leave behind her ALS body and get a new body! And, while I'm sad that she'll be gone from here, I'm glad that her pain and suffering in this life is almost done.