“Could you please tell Karen I love her?” I called to Karen’s husband as he left to visit her at the hospital. I tried to get the message through to her as often as I could. She had always meant a lot to me.

Karen had severe health problems. Although I found it difficult, I tried bringing them food when she wasn’t doing well. I walked their dog when her husband was out of town. One day her condition was such that I persuaded her to let me take her to the E.R. I did what I could for her.

But over the past while (was it months? a year?) she had ignored me. Why that was so puzzled me. Only one time, when I had nagged her husband long enough, was I allowed to spend a bit of time with her.

Sundays were the most painful. Often, as she walked to her pew before the service started, she stopped where my friend sat with me. Karen would make a big fuss over her. Smiles, laughter and hugs. I tried to reach her eyes with a smile and her ears with a hello. But she turned away without acknowledging me.

I didn’t understand what the problem was. And yet I loved her. That’s what made it so painful. My heart felt as though it was breaking. Being rejected by a friend must be one of the most painful experiences.

She died, without my knowing what had happened to our friendship.

Not too long ago I asked a mutual friend whether she knew what happened. She told me that the two of them had talked and thought that, with her own health issues, mine would be too much for her.

And I think to myself: Would a simple hello have been too much of a burden? A kind smile and hello were all I needed to help me believe that she was still a friend.

As I prepare for the day, the memory makes me hurt all over again. I feel that I was not thought of as a real person. It was as though I had not been considered to have human feelings.

Dear readers. Have you ever experienced pain like this? Rejection is cruel, especially when it comes from someone you had shared a friendship with. The only thing that has helped me with this kind of hurt is to remember Jesus. He’s one friend whose love will always remain strong. He fully understands this kind of suffering, because he too experienced it. His compassion for us is greater than anyone else’s. And, most importantly, Jesus will never reject us.

May God’s peace rest with you today.

marja