Thoughts of Nancy—my friend warring against pancreatic cancer—nagged at my consciousness. Even as I hurdled my way through the chaos at work, she remained on my mind. The TMCC Writers’ Conference, which I manage, neared. Plus, I had reports to compile and a new marketing strategy to devise for our division’s uncertain future. Overwhelmed and unsure of my future employment status, I arrived home at night spent. Unsocial.

Yet, Nancy stayed on my mind.

Next week will be better. I’ll call her then.

With each ensuing day, I stressed more about my job.

I’ll call her next week.

That Sunday night, I scanned Facebook. And there it was.

Nancy passed away the day before. She didn’t have A Next Week. My opportunity to tell her goodbye expired. The noise in my life convinced me that time didn’t matter. Despite my awareness about listening to divine guidance, I failed miserably at heeding my intuition.

Nancy had said she would beat cancer. And, I’d believed her.

I assumed she still had business to conduct here on Earth. But perhaps, that wasn’t the reason she fought so hard and believed she’d win. She could’ve waged the war out of fear. Or ignored the voice telling her to move on. Maybe she did it out of love for her devoted husband.

How could someone fight so hard to survive and still lose?

I’ll never know. Though, I might have if I’d phoned her.

Hoping my love and remorse would reach her, I projected my thoughts into the ether.

Nancy ~ I respect you. I care about you. I’m so sorry I let daily junk stand in the way of contacting you. You’ll always be special. Thank you for your role in my life.

The next day, I slogged through my job. Tasks so crucial to me on Friday now lacked importance. Another report. A meeting. A press release. So what?

I arrived home in the early evening with the week’s worth of groceries in tow. Through the creaking floorboards underfoot and the paper bags’ rustling, I heard a sound. A tinkling.

I stopped.

A tinny sound.

Edelweiss. My music box. I hadn’t wound it in years.

I walked to the bedroom, listening to its melody. My hand pressed down on the lid. The song played on.

As I opened it, the tune abruptly silenced.

I stared at the lacquered, inlaid wood box that Ken gave me for our first Christmas together in 1980.

No rational reason could explain the music.

Nancy sprung to mind. I remembered her smiling broadly at the St. Mary’s Arts Center in Virginia City, Nevada, holding her digital recorder. Anticipation lighting her face at the thought of garnering some proof of the afterlife.

I grinned and my eyes welled up. Nancy had forgiven me.