But sometimes, I must admit, I simply do not like the pain that dear ones must endure in this life. Nor the ache that is left in our hearts when we must go on without a special person that God has called home to be with Him.
Much too quickly. Not in the suddenness of a tragic accident without any warning, but with only a couple months of notice from a diagnosis of an aggressive and overpowering cancer. Thankfully, for her sake, it moved very swiftly and did not drag out her bodily suffering and pain. But for those that knew her, we are left with a longing of more time with her.
Jean was a long-time member of our church. Many knew her much, much better than I. Many were on the receiving end of her prayers, of her service, of her thoughtful and timely cards, of her beautifully crafted blankets.
For a year I had the privilege of meeting with her for breakfast once a month. She was always punctual, both in and out. After our time together, she always had an agenda for her day, much of it revolved around her ministry of visiting and caring for our church's shut-ins. A task many overlook. But not Jean. She was committed.
We shared our stories. Our struggles. Our concerned hearts for our family members.
She was real with me. Easy to open up to.
And she never seemed to mind that I could easily polish off a very large plate of breakfast food.
A little over a week ago, I had my last conversation with her. She was being cared for in a hospice facility.
I had visited once earlier in the week and found her resting peacefully. Disappointed, as I had heard of many others having the chance to visit her and share some time with her. She had only been there a couple of weeks and the staff told me she was quite the popular lady.
The next day, her daughter called me and said Jean wanted me to know that she was so sorry that she missed my visit and she apologized for being asleep. Dear goodness Jean, you are suffering through an awful and vicious cancer, you DO NOT need to apologize for getting much needed rest! But that was Jean. I promised I would try and visit again. Very soon.
The next day, Saturday, I made a point of making the effort again. A snowstorm was predicted and we were already getting a heavy falling. That wasn't going to stop me. I just figured (and hoped) that I might get her all to myself and I wouldn't have to share her with anyone else for a bit.
Which I certainly did.
She held my hand. I thanked her for the breakfasts we had and told her how thankful I was to have gotten to know her and how I admired her. She let me get her tissues and a wet washcloth. She shared that she was worried about how her daughters would handle her passing. She told me she had made her arrangements and planned out her service. She said she wouldn't be going back to her house anymore. There was a hint of concern, of sadness, of realization that her life here was coming to a close. She asked me for updates about things we had prayed together about in the past. She asked about Adam.
And then she was tired. So very tired. I kissed her on the cheek and left with a heavy feeling knowing that was quite possibly our last conversation. But thankful that, for my sake at least, I had that time with her.
Jean has now seen her Savior face to face. Basked herself in His unimaginable glory. And in the final verse of so many hymns and songs when the lyrics describe what it will be like when our life on earth comes to a close and we arrive on the shores of the next, I am thinking of Jean these days. Her love for her Savior was true and deep. She's experiencing all of the delights of Heaven and her heart's longing has been met.
|Photo courtesy and permission of Joanna Doenier|