Friday, March 21, 2014

Lent: Day Seventeen ~ Never Fear the End

Prov. 14:27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

Never Fear the End

This post was going to be about the end times but you know, when God places something on my heart to write, I have to write it not caring about what it is ‘I’ wanted to write. He is such an amazing and powerful God.

My own hand when writing these Lent post does not guide me and sometimes I’m even amazed at what I wrote. I hope you’re feeling the tingling chills that I’m feeling as I write and you read this post.

Yesterday was March 20 and all over I read it was the first day of spring (due to the vernal equinox) and while I await spring, my mind drifted back to forty years ago when cancer took my grandmother’s life. I was about to turn eight years old in three days, and that would be the day my grandmother was ‘laid to rest’ as they say. Placed gently in her grave on my 8th birthday.

For three days I watched as we the family cried from heartache and stood around a once vibrant woman who succumbed to cancer and now we looked on at her lifeless body. Can you imagine a small child trying to drink in the reality of death? Her beautiful pale blue gown can still be seen in my mind today as I write, like it was just yesterday that it had happened.

Then death struck again just two months after my grandmother’s death, her husband died, in his sleep, mourning her loss, watching a Lawrence Welk show I imagine; the tomato juice still fresh on his lips when his daughter found him. There were two deaths, two months apart, she on the 20th and he on the 22nd. Death, the finality of it all scared me for a while in those years but when I became a born again Christian, God placed something on my heart, Never Fear the End. Not a lot to go on, but I carry it with me to this day.

I imagine on the crux of death The Comforter is there watching over you, when you fear, He relieves that fear and the still small part of you clinging to life knows there is something beautiful awaiting you with no more pain, where only Light and beauty abounds.

On Monday we received a message that Steven’s cousin, Mary, was in the hospital with fluid on her lungs. She had been battling an extremely painful cancer privately for four and a half years now and was now in the hospital requesting prayer. For the years of battle, she never let on to anyone that she was suffering in so much pain. She spared her family and friends pain, and suffered alone. I know words can’t convey fear, but for her to be asking for prayer, I knew she was at the point where she knew she was dying and was now lying in fear.

I immediately went to prayer for her. You see, this family is such a close knit Christian family, it is not hard for you to meet someone once or twice and feel a bond with them. Mary and I bonded. Maybe the rest of the family never knew, but we did. Mary had a way of connecting with anyone and everyone.

We had returned to Nebraska, coming from Texas, to attend Steven’s grandmother’s funeral. Mary and I had only met a few times but as soon as our eyes met, we knew each other and went immediately for an embrace. She was happy to see me as I her. A beautiful young lady with brunette bouncy pixie cut hair circling her angelic face.

I mean really, she had flawless skin; perfect sparkling eyes and her smile could light the world. I think I was drawn to her because of the Light she emitted. I was off crying and she seen me, came over to me, put her arm around me and asked me if I needed to talk.

I told her how I had just met her brother Christopher for the first time. He was born in 1982, the same year I lost my son Christopher. I was crying because it was like seeing my son in him, alive and aging.

She said, “I guess that is our connection, and the fact you share my mother’s birthday.” We giggled like schoolgirls through tears. I told her how I was born on my mother’s birthday and she said, “That’s funny, I was born three days before my mom’s birthday, on the 20th!” More giggles, more tears. Giggling schoolgirls who were years apart in age but bonding as if we were the very same age.

I looked at her wide-eyed and said, “That’s the day my grandmother passed away.” More bonding through tears and when we parted her last words to me were, “You better be here when I come back home to visit.” I assured her I would.

As she clings to life in Chicago, I’m here waiting for her to come home. She did. The words ring in my ear and reach out as I whisper to her as she lay dying…Never Fear the End.

*update: I wrote this yesterday. This morning Mary is home, with her Heavenly Father.

She is no longer suffering in pain and I am comforted in knowing she is at peace. The day He sent her into this world is the day she parted this world. Thirty years old.

Rest In Peace, Mary.

Pss. 23:1-6 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.


NurseArtist said...

Joni, I am so sorry for your loss. I could tell you were very close to this woman, and I know there has been strife in your family, so each familial loss can seem gigantic. I remember how distraught my dad was when we buried our daughter on his birthday, February 26, now he is gone too..died about 4 years ago. I pray for your family that you may find peace in the fact that she is surely with the Lord, and has no more pain. It will be difficult for a while. But you know that already. I wish I could be with you to give you a real hug, but we both will have to settle for now with a virtual hug. {{{{HUGS}}}}. God bless you Joni.

Jacki said...

thank you - loved it

joni said...

Thank YOU, Jacki, for stopping by and letting me know you visited.

joni said...

She isn't suffering and in pain any more, so I am comforted by that.

Honestly I feel like I'm living a de'ja vu moment. Surreal.

Her mother and father are there in Chicago and I'm told she had many many friends who saw the light in her too. Many who got to see her one last time. Her brother Christopher wasn't there in time. :( How heartbreaking.

This all happened so suddenly. We were told on Monday she was going to the hospital, Wednesday they were discussing her going home with an oxygen tank, and Thursday she became unresponsive and she passed over before nightfall. :(

Beth Zimmerman said...

So sorry for your loss. Grateful to know she is home! Praying for those who love her!

Beth Zimmerman said...

Hugs to you sweet Joni!

joni said...

Thanks Beth.

All the prayers are being felt and heard.

benning said...

*Hugs!* Heartfelt words, Joni. <3