Our Diabetes/365 Community IS our cuppa!
Over the Lift Bridge
Have you had tea parties with an angel? I have.
My Heart’s Twin knows this story by heart. Her story is written already within my heart. Diabetes is only a tiny footnote within this story because you will soon know with all your soul that this story is really only about love in its purest, most beautiful, unconditional and unending form. Through what feels like oceans of tears I transfer from my heart onto paper the story of my number 1 Battle Buddy, Cheryl, “My Heart’s Twin.”
Cheryl & I met just less than 3 years ago yet we packed in a lifetime of laughs, smiles, tea, truth, heartfelt conversations & hugs. It was a friendship where we felt from the very start that we knew one another’s hearts already. In my usual rascally way, I felt compelled to give Cheryl a nickname. We had started out with that one you can do online when we were feeling especially silly by getting a nickname by saying your birthday followed by what you ate for breakfast that day. Cheryl started out with the nickname of “April Oatmeal” & I got “July Smoothie” but neither of those nicknames stuck for more than a week or 2. The nickname that did stick & remains always for Cheryl that I gave her was & is, “My Heart’s Twin.” We had so much instantly in common & most of all profoundly sentimental hearts. We had found our twin & there is not a word bigger than joy that I can think of to describe that feeling. It was at the very least euphoria. There is nothing like someone else who understands our sentimental hearts. We did not have to apologize for being sentimental or mushy & stuff like that because we were twins that way. We had that “me too” feeling & it felt like a gift. It was & it is. As an aside, what is the best gift for absolutely anyone & everyone that you cannot buy from a store & yet is returnable (we give back to one another)? It is love. Cheryl gave that gift big time.
Having a bit of a stubborn, rascally streak, it took me a good long while to finally reach out to others living with type 1 diabetes. After going it alone for the first couple of years of living with type one I took a leap of faith & this lead me to a spectacular “Battle Buddy. “ I joined a few type 1 diabetes support groups in the hope of finding someone who understood the day in day out diabetes world. The wish for this became more than that & I soon found myself adding this to my prayers. Not long after this Cheryl & I met up in the support group & found out that our homes were only a 45 minute drive apart. We were big time thrilled. And I had to pinch myself when I found out that Cheryl was a fellow tea enjoyer too. We then framed our planned get togethers in an umbrella phrase of “that’s what we will do or have at our next tea party!”
It feels like yesterday that my Heart’s Twin, Cheryl & her wonderful husband & I met for tea at Teavanna for the first time. The moment Cheryl arrived, I knew it was her & we gave one another a huge hug as if it were the most natural thing in the world. They felt like family instantly. Your heart recognizes family every time. Our cup of tea turned into a full afternoon of tea together & we laughed until our faces were sore. We talked like we had known one another forever & of course our hearts had. Sometimes it takes years to meet your twin but when you do you know it! One of the best things that Cheryl mentioned was her absolute distain for green peas. Right away I smiled & filed. I smiled & told her, “me too.” I filed because the rascal with a sense of humor within me knew that Cheryl & I would have a lot of future laughs over our shared detesting of green peas. We sure did. When I would arrive at Cheryl’s building & call up to her apartment & she would answer I would reply with a badly done impression of any accent that I could think of & state that I had her green pea delivery. The last time I visited Cheryl she answered me in the lobby with an accent she had come up with.
Cheryl & I talked on the phone & then on the internet after meeting initially in the type 1 diabetes support group. Like I just mentioned, we met in person over tea at Teavanna & that was & is a treasured memory. Soon after we had gotten together over that first (bottomless) cup of tea we knew that we needed to plan for our next tea get together. We planned to meet at Cheryl’s home. I shared with Cheryl that you can take the girl out of the small town but not the small town out of the girl & that I have some challenges when it comes to driving in city traffic. (Okay, let’s just be honest, I am a chicken when it comes to heavy traffic) A way would be found though because you cannot keep friends of the heart apart. I told her jokingly that I would find a “goat path” to her place. I did find that type of path to Cheryl’s place & we fondly referenced it as “over the lift bridge.” Prior to meeting Cheryl, I had never gone to her town before or over the lift bridge to get to her home. The drive is quite a peaceful one & it was the drive reserved for visiting my Heart’s Twin. During one drive to get to Cheryl’s place, the lift bridge was lifted so that a large ship could pass through to the other side of the Lake. That was rare for the lift bridge to be up like that thankfully though because I just wanted to get to my friend’s home so that we could share our time together. Another time I had to stop & wait for a train on the way to her place. I told Cheryl once I arrived at her place that train had a lot of nerve holding our visit up & we laughed & hugged the stuffing out of one another. Every single time Cheryl & I wrote to one another or spoke we told one another that we loved each other. Love absolutely lasts forever. In between visits we sent messages to one another always ending with, “over the lift bridge & across the Lake, here comes some hugs so catch.” I am still sending those hugs over the same lift bridge & across the Lake & all the way up to heaven to my Heart’s Twin & I always will.
What patience my Heart’s Twin gave to me. She smiled through me nicknaming her cat, “Zen Kitty” as well as silly jokes & bizarre tea blends. Cheryl was always up for some fun & so genuine, kind & inspiring. Although diabetes had been unkind to Cheryl, she showed diabetes that it did not get the last word, middle word or first word. She gave others an example of what compassion, kindness, encouragement, hope & faith & friendship & love look like with a neon light. When we got together for tea, sometimes we would not even bother to drink our tea because it never really was about the tea. My heart hopes that you too have experienced that indescribable feeling of what it feels like to be able to talk to someone heart to heart with total peace & no censorship. We complimented one another on how we were the cool kids because we really rocked our insulin pumps. We could & did talk easily about everything & anything from ladies issues to diabetes peeves to our kids, to the world being upside down & inside out at times to our shared disgust for green peas to our shared unshakeable faith in God.
It was so neat for both Cheryl & I to find that I loved to cook & bake & she did not enjoy this so I got to stir in the love for our tea lunches together. I am smiling as I remember the first salad that I made for us. It had almost everything that I could think of in it. I would joke that I had to cover off all the food groups so that we would not get scurvy. Cheryl laughed at all my corny jokes & kind of egged me on & we both loved that feeling. She asked me what was in the salad & I listed them off & then when I got to the end I added with a laugh that it was also absolutely swimming in green peas & I hoped she wouldn’t mind that. I said it with a straight face & it took a few seconds before the 2 of us burst out into laughter. She told me that she had never had avocadoes before. I replied, “You are going to love them because they are covered in bacon.” Cheryl put up with all my going on & on about how delicious bacon is with the patience of Job. She just let me be me & she got to just be her beautiful self. We laughed & we cried & then we laughed some more & always always gave one another bear hugs & cheered one another on. We cheered one another on the good days & the challenging days. The thing that I first remember about Cheryl when I met her in the support group was she was a huge encourager. She encouraged people with generous compassion whose faces she never came to know. Cheryl gave love because that is what filled her.
Each time we met for our tea lunches, Cheryl always insisted that I choose the tea. The more bizarre the better was kind of our motto when it came to tea. It was never about the tea anyway & we knew it. She caught me the very first time I did what became my famous leave behind maneuver. My modus operands was to leave at least one bowl behind at her place & I told her that was so that she would invite me back. It became standard operating procedure from that visit on. We did not say good bye after any visit but always, “to be continued.” Our friendship is unending & the love that remains from my Heart’s Twin is being cherished in a treasured place in my heart. There is no distance that love cannot reach I know with all certainty. Love continues. Love does not end.
There is a popular saying that behind every great man there is a great woman. It turns out that behind my amazing Heart’s Twin, there are 2 great gentlemen, her husband & son. The way that Cheryl spoke of her husband & her son is something precious & rare. She was so grateful for the love & selfless care of her husband & hugely proud of her son & his musical gifts. She spoke of her husband with the respect & honour & love that grew every single day. Her son was her miracle & she bravely told him that she loved him unapologetically & all her friends sure knew the Mom’s love that she carried with her. As a sweet aside, there were times when Cheryl & I visited & we would talk about things that we loved about being moms to sons. Cheryl always beamed when she spoke of her son. One day I mentioned jokingly to her that when my oldest son who is now a teenager answers my attempts at conversation with vague one word answers or noises that I reply, “Nice chat son, meaningful.” Cheryl laughed & laughed & just simply said, “Saundie, our sons love us & they know we love them & that’s all that matters…not the words.”
Most of us have heard ourselves or someone else say, “I have this feeling or intuition.” There have been times when I have heard stories of literal twins who have had a feeling about the other one even when they are apart. On April 16th, I woke up in a melancholy mood & kept asking myself what that was all about. I looked literally at the calendar & asked myself if there was something about this day that I should know. I just had that feeling that something did not feel right. The day continued that way & I just had a sadness that I could not explain. That was the morning that my Heart’s Twin left us far, far too soon. My heart hurts to be here without my Heart’s Twin yet I know without a doubt that she is safely in heaven. Hopefully she will put a good word in for this rascal who is blessed to call her friend. Just as our tea visits were continuations versus separate individual visits, that is how our friendship is too. I have not stopped saying, “see you next time.” In the meantime, I am finding ways to honour the blessing of this friendship which is a story of love. Love has no end.
Cheryl always expressed her appreciation & was generous with her kindness & sent me messages of gratitude. She so often told me that I had done something or said something to fill her with happiness. Each time I always reminded my Heart’s Twin that what she saw was really herself & that I was really always only holding the mirror so that she could see her beautiful self. And I usually added that she was the angel & I was the rascal. Angels do have tea with rascals I always knew. This friendship is a blessing & continues just as love continues. I miss my friend with such a heavy heart & somehow she has found a way all the way from heaven to give her family & friends comfort. If that is not the definition of an angel then I really don’t know what is. In a few minutes I will close with the comforting & loving words that Cheryl shared. Her gift of love goes on. Cheryl & I met because of diabetes yet diabetes soon became a mere footnote. We really met I have come to see because we were & are Heart’s twins.
The last time that Cheryl & I had one of our tea lunches, my Heart’s Twin said, “next time let’s go out somewhere really fun & do something new.” I told her that I would put my thinking cap on & I did. For our next get together for late April or early May, I was going to make a traditional high tea for us & arrive in a fancy tea hat & bring one for her too. I was planning for the visit after to surprise her by arranging to take her out to a really neat teahouse restaurant & wear our hats & be silly. I know she would have loved that.
My Heart’s Twin & I both loved inspirational quotes. We loved to share words from our hearts & share quotes from others that we felt would touch other people’s hearts. That really is what love is anyway, right, closing the gap between hearts so that more love can pour in I think. That was one of Cheryl’s super powers. Cheryl had a generous heart & she loved to share words of inspiration & hope with family & friends all the time. This past winter, Cheryl shared this message with friends & family (Entitled “Letter from Heaven”…author unknown):
“When tomorrow starts without me
And I’m not here to see
If the sun should rise and find your
Eyes filled with tears for me.
I wish so much you wouldn’t cry
The way you did today
While thinking of the many things
We didn’t get to say
I know how much you love me
As much as I love you
And each time you think of me
I know you will miss me too.
When tomorrow starts without me
Don’t think we’re far apart
For every time you think of me
I am right there in your heart.”
This week I will be driving over the lift bridge to honour my Heart’s Twin & celebrate her life & the love that lives within the hearts of each & every one of her family & friends. My friend’s life & love is the candle & she let each one of us hold the mirror.
In honour & love for Cheryl. I love you xo. Over the lift bridge & across the Lake & up to heaven, catch, Cheryl xoxo
My heart hopes that you have a beautiful friendship like this too. It is the greatest gift. Please be brave & tell your Dear Hearts in your life that you love them & hug them big time every time you see one another. See one another often. Friendship is precious. Here's the thing about me & that is that once you are my friend it is forever & always to be continued. My next story will be shared in 2 weeks on Monday May 25th.
In Love & Friendship,