Sorrow is a cloak that settles itself heavily, without invitation, in a great, muffling embrace. It colors the world grey. Like a chalkboard eraser, it wipes the glimmer of life from your eyes as your soul retreats into the deepest part. Its calling card of weariness hangs heavily on your words. It even dims the words of a status update:
"Just want to see her pretty blue eyes and hear her voice"
This from a man, barely 30, after his wife was medevaced due to bleeding on her brain.
Diana, larger than life, with the personality of a lion. The first glimpse I had of this woman was on the first day we moved to a little adobe house tucked away on a ranch in the Sacramento foothills. New Mexico wine country. Diana was digging a ditch to repair some pipe next to the house, her skin stretched golden and taut over smooth, lean muscles. She had a couple eyebrow piercings, one in her lip, and several along her ear lobes. I was frankly intimidated by her strength and the ferocity with which she attacked the red dirt. She looked up, and her blue eyes pierced me. Direct. Frank. Fearless.
A few months later, I was dismayed to discover that Diana, the ranch's Jill-of-all-trades, was slated to spend the entire week in my house, laying tile in my front entryway. Tentatively, over the course of the week, I began spending the lazy afternoons between nap time and dinner time sitting on the unfinished part of the floor, chatting with her. To my surprise, in Diana I found a kindred spirit. Honest as the day, and loving as fiercely as she worked, Diana and I became fast friends. Her dry humor and no-holds-barred transparency were the spice in our conversations.
A few months later, she married Brad in a quiet ceremony. They joined our first small group a year later, Diana enriching it with her characteristic vivacity. She was the first friend I made in New Mexico, and the only one that has lasted through the years to today.
Two years ago, the doctors discovered a tumor in Diana's abdomen. It was cancer. As that evil dark growth threatened Diana's life, I watched Brad stand beside her in his quiet strength. He never wavered. His love for her shone pure, crystal clear in its intensity and simplicity.
Diana, true to the lioness within, conquered the cancer with unwavering optimism. She didn't just 'survive' it. She stomped into its camp, burned down the tents, captured the flag and ran off in victorious, shrieking splendor. To celebrate, Brad commenced on remodeling the kitchen of their mobile home for her. She called the resultant makeover her 'P.W.T. Palace'.
A year later, a seizure sent Diana to the ER. Doctors found blood clots, and more cancer. "All my family's treating me too nice," she Facebook chatted to me. "It's freaking me out."
She jumped these hurdles, too, and continued to march on. She enrolled in college. She hadn't been in school since she was 16, but that didn't stop Diana.
And then, four days ago, I got another call. Diana had another seizure. We started praying. And hoping. And praying. When a CAT scan revealed bleeding on her brain, she was airlifted to a bigger hospital, Brad at her side. Always at her side. His sunken, stark eyes staring in wordless hope into a future they had dreamed together.
Tonight, we are still hoping and praying. Lying in her hospital bed, unable to move or speak, surrounded by her family, I know the lioness within is roaring in defiance. And Brad is just waiting to see her blue eyes smile.