Sarah White would have been 39 today. I want to honor my dear friend for the impact she had on my life.
One of the things I have come to realize on this journey of autism is the importance of friends in my life. God has given me truly wonderful friends whose love and support have sustained me. An email, a text, a call, a hug means so much to me and sometimes right when I needed it the most. God has given me friends that love my daughter Sarah and whose hearts ache with us on this journey.
My friend, Carol Kent, in her book “When I Lay my Isaac Down” calls her supportive friends, “Stretcher Bearers”, after the story of the paralyzed man who was carried to Jesus on a mat by his friends in Luke 5:17-26 (page 75). I can see that. There are times on this journey that I feel I can’t walk anymore and God has given me friends to help, encourage, cheer, and yes, carry us on in this journey.
No one can take autism from us, much like how I would love to take the hardships from my friends’ lives that they are facing but can’t, but God has given us friends to come along side us. To wrap their arm around us and with the other hand support us as we travel on our journey. My “come along side” friends, like you, who pray for us, truly mean more than I can ever express. My heart cannot even begin to tell you of my love and gratitude to you for praying for us!
You truly are Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Then there is my friend Sarah White. My relationship with Sarah was a precious gift. I met Sarah on my first day at my new school in 4th grade. Sarah gave me a friendship pin (which was a safety pin with beads on it that the girls wore on their shoes) that made me feel accepted. I still remember seeing the pin on my desk and a feeling of happiness washed over me that someone thought of me. I looked over to see her sweetly smiling at me; a lifelong friendship was born.
As grown-ups our friendship deepened. Sarah had twin girls, too; the younger of the twins also is special needs. Sarah had other children and was trying to find a balance of helping her one child without excluding the others, as well. Instead of “coming along side”, Sarah was my friend who was on the same journey I was on. She was the hand tightly gripping my hand from across the table, a tear-filled eye meeting mine and telling me, “I know. I know.”
Sarah did know exactly how I felt and there was a bond between us. Another childhood friend (and now cousin-in-law), Suzie Palms, Sarah, and I would meet for dinner from time to time and it was a place to talk about different therapies, specialists and schooling options. We learned so much from each other as we tried to find answers to help our girls. Some dinners it was just a time to vent our frustrations and weariness with life and raising a special needs child. Sarah spoke my “special needs mom language” and was facing many of the same things I was facing, despite her daughter having a different diagnosis. Most of all, we laughed and for a moment stepped away from our lives and were just lifelong friends catching up.
October 2008, we met for Sarah’s birthday. Suzie and I both could tell she wasn’t feeling well. She barely ate and looked exhausted. Two weeks later we found out the reason, pancreatic cancer. Even now I am shocked by it. We felt helpless in how to help our friend. I begged God for healing, mercy and more time with my lifelong friend. Sarah fought hard and the outpouring of people praying for her was amazing. Sarah touched so many people and had an impact far greater than she ever knew. Even when she was in such great pain, she responded in kindness and with a twinkle in her eye said something that made us smile. It was so her.
December 21st, 2008, Suzie and I saw Sarah one last time here on earth. Instead of a tightly held hand across the table, it was us tightly holding her hands as she lay in her bed. We told her how much we loved her and what her friendship meant to us, but I wasn’t sure if she could hear us. Then, truly a gift from God, her right eye barely opened and her eye met our tear-filled eyes and she blew us a kiss, and then closed her eye again. Sarah passed away in the early hours of December 23rd. She was 34 years old.
Today is Sarah (House) White’s birthday. She was an amazing wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend and loved by so many. She is greatly and achingly missed and one day I look forward to seeing my friend again in Heaven. I think I will be standing in line to greet her and when our eyes meet; there will be no more tears, but there will be hands tightly grasping each other and a wink from a dear friend who knows.
Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times.”