The Howells Group Blog

Strengthening the golden cord

Karen and Jenni Bloglarge

It’s 9pm on a Friday night and the only lights I can see in the Nashville, Tennessee sky are the words on the backlit sign “Sarah Cannon Cancer Center”. I’m here for my childhood friend of 50 years as she battles the word most of us still quietly fear. We thought we’d be cozied up in her Birmingham, Alabama home for most of the visit; resting on her screened porch, in between the experimental treatments she’s undergoing. Instead, terrible pain sent her to the ER the night I flew out and required a stay at this Nashville specialty hospital wing. (Only in Nashville would a cancer center be named for a Grand Ole Opry star Minnie Pearl; Sarah Cannon was her real name). In room 2309 at the end of the hall the only sounds now are her muffled breathing, monitors pulsing quietly; dispensing medicine that stabilize, fight infection and mute pain. She’s resting now after tests, medication, bouts of nausea, questions that are still unanswered; all the things that go with battling the beast.

These are the moments when the life’s fragile reality is reduced to its true essence; love and relationships. Your net worth, undone projects, career trajectory or vacation plans aren’t even on the radar. Her family calls. Her friends text. Her daughter, employed here as a radiation specialist in the hospital, is a tireless supporter in spite of two young children at home. Her husband, though exhausted, faithfully and forcefully at times advocates for her needs with the endless tasks required including interfacing with doctors, treatment options and insurance companies.

Since I arrived we’ve remembered our growing up in a small town; she the tall and quieter blond and me the shorter, bossier brunette. Riding our bikes anywhere, going alone to the gully to catch crawdads, getting our first bras and boyfriends; being in each other’s wedding, having our babies, sharing our struggles as we navigated all the twists and turns of life. Throughout the milestones, our paths are tightly interwoven, though we’ve lived in different states for almost 40 years. Right around her daughter’s wedding in 2008, I was diagnosed with cancer. We celebrated and cried over the phone about both experiences. Then, in 2012, right about the time my daughter was to get married, I got the call from her; she had colon cancer.

What am I thinking tonight? About a lot, actually. I’m especially present to the truth that when life’s tremors and earthquakes rumble and shake through your life, the love of true friends are a golden life line. What you grasp for when it’s hard to even pray – the one you reach for in your most vulnerable moments.

So if you’re reading this stop – consider those you’ve shared life with and strengthen the ties. Love when it’s inconvenient, make that phone call you have somehow put off; invest in this most precious possession. Make another connection; maybe new memories that bind and intertwine the cords tighter and stronger. Because that golden rope, the one of true and lasting friendship will hold you.

(My friend happens to be an amazing painter as well, see her working in real time here!)

One Comment

  1. Mike Reed
    Posted June 10, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Beautifully and wonderfully said about a truly wonderfull person , Jennifer Harwell . To have friends like this is just the extension of GOD’S hand showing His ever present and never ceasing love He has for us . This type of love and friendship will last through out eternity . I have been touched by these words of love for a friend , from a loving caring friend . Thank you for the BLESSING .

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