Ronda Rich: What lies ahead

By Ronda Rich

The other morning, I called one of my best friends. I had a bit of news as well as a piece of advice I wanted to share.

I was in the midst of dealing with a piece of stress. Nothing life-changing. Something that I had once long ago scrimped and saved to attain and was something I liked a lot, had been accidentally damaged by a well-meaning friend. I wasn't sure if it could be repaired so I was somewhat heartsick. Though I try during times like that always to remember Daddy's commandment "Don't worry over anything that hard work and money can replace," I was still in the initial mourning stage.

My call went to voicemail and I left a message saying, "I wanted to tell you about something I'm dealing with. It's nothing compared to the worry you have but I thought I'd tell you, and for a few minutes, it might take your mind off your situation."

When she returned my call, she, too, had to leave a message. "Yes," she said. "I definitely want to hear about what's going on. That will give me a break." Her voice lifted. "It's our 26th wedding anniversary today. I'm still absolutely crazy about him." She ended the call with "We're on the way to the doctor. I'll call you when we get out."

Twenty six years. I paused and thought back to that day. The pink satin bridesmaid dress with matching shoes I had worn. The beauty of the church with the setting sun streaming a glow in through stained glass windows.

The sun was a gift because, at the rehearsal dinner the night before, it had rained sheets so the water was over my shoes as I stepped out of the car at the church. She was beautiful. I and a couple of other bridesmaids had dabbed away tears as those two stood in the altar, pledging their love before God, through the good times and bad, for richer or poorer.

On the years, I have witnessed, up-close and personal, their triumphs and tribulations. I have watched them battle through good times and bad, richer and poorer. They never battled against each other, though.

As a couple, they stood hand-in-hand and weathered the storms. I know them well. No one knows them better, and I can say truthfully that I have never heard one say an unkind or condescending thing about the other.

I listened to the message and recalled their wedding day and thought of the joy that would have been greatly diminished if anyone could have looked into the future and said, "Twenty-six years from today, you'll be hanging on to every word the oncologist has to say."

Daddy came to mind, too. How he once said, "God is so good and so wise. He doesn't allow us to know what lies ahead because if we knew of the trials to come, we wouldn't want to carry on."

They battle this terrible disease together. It doesn't even bear mentioning which one has it because as far as they are concerned, they both have it. It has been gruesome, mind-boggling, heart-breaking and emotionally shattering.

It brings to mind something else Daddy often said, "Thank God for the hard times. They make the good times so much sweeter."

That makes me smile. There are some awfully sweet times coming for those two.

Ronda Rich, author of "What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should)," writes the Dixie Diva column that appears in several newspapers.