IMG_0033Death is a peculiar occurrence, peculiar because of the emotions it forcefully demands one to experience, emotions that we truly never taste of until death is staring us squarely in the face and we have no way of escape, and I have found out this year either after knowing the deceased closely or grieving for the families affected and attending 5 funerals, those emotions differ from individual to individual and the majority of the weight lies solely on who was taken from our lives.

It’s as if every person in our life is a Jenga block in our own personal tower, some blocks when removed do not damage the overall integrity of the tower and it remains standing, others when removed cause a strain on the tower but nevertheless it withstands the absence, and then there’s those people who are our foundational blocks and when they are plucked, the tower comes crashing down.

How I wish I could say that every funeral attended was that of a believer who is celebrating the upcoming Holidays in the best place possible, but I cannot. I wish I could say that every opportunity to tell them about Jesus, true repentance, living for the Lord, and all that the Gospel urges, when presented was faithfully taken. But I cannot. I fail God quite often but even after the shame of failure, God is faithful to portray light in dark, crashing tower moments.

About a month ago a lovely lady friend of ours went in for a “routine surgery” to remove her gallbladder only to wake up from her anesthesia to be informed that the gallbladder was not the cause of all of her ailments but rather cancer, it had spread to her liver, pancreas, everywhere.  The cancer held all of her abdominal organs hostage and there were no negotiations or ransoms desired. The doctors gave her the options a month to live or 3-4 months which would consists of chemo and radiation, leaving her, as she said, “burned and tired, you just don’t know how bad it burns, it burns your insides.” She knew from experience, she had defeated cancer before.

As she laid in her bedroom which had become a makeshift hospital room, equipped with an adjustable hospital bed, potty seat, and oxygen machine, she welcomed us just as she always had with her smile and spitfire attitude, the only difference this time her fire was a little dimmer, and her smile did not incline to duck and fish feeding adventures which the littles loved so dearly, instead her smile was sincere the kind that you give to friend as you say farewell. She disclosed all the details of her “death sentence” and continued onto reminiscing about her childhood homeplace, about her children and how proud she was of them, and then God used her one last time for Donald and I.

After all the funerals and death that seemingly surrounded us we were getting discouraged, none of the previous deaths were expected, they were sudden and knocked the wind out of us. {{We still haven’t really caught our breath yet.}} All we could see and feel was devastation, the rubble of various people’s Jenga towers.

But with Mrs. Joann’s it was peaceful, expected, even welcomed. She told us she was ready, that she was sure she was going to a place way better than what’s here. That she loved her family but that she loved Christ more and she was ready to be with Him. She seemingly had no regrets, she had loved fiercely so that those whom she loved never had to wonder, she had always spoke her mind so she didn’t spend her last days on this earth in a frantic rushing race against time to tell those the things that she had reserved in the past. She simply enjoyed visits from family and friends until she drifted off and was no more.

Her process of passing was encouraging and refreshing after experiencing so many frustrating and dense deaths of others. Just as one who stares into the sun has a shadow in their view, even in her last moments her fire for the Lord burned so bright it will forever leave a lasting shadow in our sights. A shadow cast over the pain and despair, with only the sunshine of Heaven to bask in.