Carolyn stands on tippy toes as we watch the milk being steamed into froth. I step out of her way; she is much shorter than I, though both of us are full grown women. We watch the rich chocolate join the foamy milk as they are carefully married by experienced hands.
Enrapt in anticipation, we watch as the barista uses a wire whisk to whip thick cream. With a flourish, she piles white whipped to an ethereal lightness on top of the liquid chocolate. A comforting hot beverage made extravagantly rich enough to pamper queens, placed humbly in our outstretched hands. We giggle as both of us simultaneously stick our tongue into the cream.
My friend has hair the color of hay made strawberry red in the sunshine. Her personality is voluptuous, her laughter melodious as it bubbles from her bright red lips. She exudes an inner strength and determination that adds another layer of richness to her extravagant personality.
We sit at the wrought iron table on the patio of the coffee shop and drink the hot chocolate, each laughing at well told stories of the otherís foibles. How can we allow so much time to pass between our meetings when we love each other so easily?
We grow silent, basking in the simple joy of fellowship. Carolyn reaches across the table and takes my hand. Uncomfortable with the insistent touch, I know what is coming and avert my eyes away. She persistently embraces my hand until I raise my face and look at hers. She whispers, ďItís time, dear friend, stop running and come home.Ē
I once more avert my eyes but she squeezes my fingers and Iím forced by the heart strings of friendship to raise my eyes to her again. Itís like she is looking into my soul, opening every door of my heart, pulling out into the light every wayward deed Iíve ever done. I blush at the awareness of her knowledge of the things Iíve participated in. Unable to look deliberately away, I look down at my cocoa.
We may never meet again; life can be unpredictable. Oh, we will continue to write, certainly. It was, in fact, a note from her that brought us together today. But, we will each go our separate way, each to live our lives according to our own will as usual.
Every time I write to her, I talk about how exciting my life is, reveling in my independence. Her response has always been to send me a note about Jesus. Not a, ďGod bless you and keep you,Ē kind of note. Rather, a reminder of childhood church friendships and a heart touching witness of Christ and what He had been to her through the years. This time, what she had said woke a burning in my heart that I thought had been totally quenched by my life choices.
Of all my friends, dear Carolyn is the only one that has never backed down in her pursuit of Christ. Sheís told me again and again about Christianity not being a religion, but a relationship. I always make a reciprocal wave of my hand acknowledging her commitment and postponing the certain to follow words of persuasion about my personal need for a savior. Promising to stay in touch, Iíd run from my friend and her Jesus.
But, today is different, this time she has a sense of urgency Iíd not noticed before. Puzzled that she was even more insistent after all these years, I pulled my hand away and jumped to my feet. Impatiently turning to face her as I leave, I see her lips moving in silent prayer, and I see her eyes glisten with tears. All of this, for me; Iím stunned at her genuine love. I sit back down.
There is no way she could have known about the cancer growing inside of me, yet, how could she have this sense of urgency if she didnít know? Isnít it wrong to wait till the last possible moment, when youíre sick and staring death straight on? Certainly a dangerous game to play and seeking salvation now would be, presumptuous, wouldnít it?
Yet, death is eminent at any moment in our lives; the dark specter that stalks us all. Reaching across the table, I wiggle my hand up under her hand that is laying in limp defeat. I take a deep breath and whisper, ďTell me about Jesus, Iím ready to listen.Ē
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