A Beautiful Good-bye

Once there were two sisters, Nicki and Linda (not their real names), who were related neither by blood nor genes.

Nicki was the wealthy employer, well-known as the glamorous queen; Linda was the ordinary employee, unknown and unaffected.

Linda’s job required her to travel with her boss to all the world’s richest cities, where dining in exclusive places and feasting on Beverly Hills’ priciest crabs were daily fare.   

Along the way, they became friends. And further down the road, they became sisters.

What is a sister? Barbara Alpert, an author, says, “She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway.  She is . . . someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink.”

Nicki, always dressed to the nines, lived in a manor, reigning over a vast network of resources; Linda, always clad in functional clothes, lived in a modest home, nothing more.

But they both supported each other and each other’s families, with a tacit pact to be traveling companions forever. In those travels, they’d tour many places of worship, but maintained their common faith in a loving God and prayed together.  

Suddenly, one day, Linda was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Nicki frequented the hospital, giving comfort; bringing flowers, food, cash, her staff—and a Bible, which Linda pored over every day.

“Hang in there,” Nicki would say, suggesting to take her to the Holy Land. She also planned on moving Linda to the best hospital with the best doctors.

But Linda demurred, not wanting to impose further and knowing it was downhill from there. It was; although the suffering stretched to months, which she spent in the humble structure she called home.

Nicki continued to be the most frequent guest, sometimes alone, sometimes with an entourage, and always with prayers for Linda. Between visits, Nicki would send an oxygen tank, dextrose pole, and speakers for Linda’s phone so she could listen to praise music. Even at midnight, Nicki’s driver or assistant would pop in to bring anything Linda might need.

On Nicki’s last visit . . .
Nicki (sobbing): Are you tired?

Linda: Yes, I'm tired.

Nicki: Why don't you rest? You keep saying you're tired, but you don't want to rest. If you have hurt someone, you can say sorry, and if somebody has hurt you, let go . . . when you get to heaven, please pray for me.

Linda: Yes, I will pray for you, I’ve always wanted you to be happy.

Nicki: Oh, thank you . . . I am, uh, leaving for Paris tomorrow.

Linda: When will you be back?

Nicki: In three weeks.

Linda: When you come back, I might not be here anymore. 

When Nicki came back, Linda had left for our Father’s home.

What is a sister? Jodi Picoult, another author, asks, “If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?”

Always a sister, Nicki is wont to say (she, the glamorous queen who stepped down from her throne for Linda; she, with a big heart that found its match in Linda’s). Because a sister is grace—till the world is no more.  

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” Proverbs 17:17  

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