This past week has been an emotional roller-coaster, in the middle of an already hard season of life. A week ago today, I watched my sister pass from this life to the next. I was watching via video as the pendulum between this life and the next swung. And somewhere in the middle of it, she slipped into eternity. Life support was disconnected, and in less than a minute she was gone, the screen a flatline, where once a faint heartbeat had been. There was no sustainable life in her. I had rushed as much as you can from six hours away, not allowing myself to cry, focused on the task of arriving in time. I had been told I would be able to go be with her for the end. However, when I arrived and gave them my name, they called the ICU and was told that I was not allowed. At that moment all the tears I had held in check came rushing out. My heartfelt as though it would burst from the weight and pain of it all. But God…
As I was waiting to hear them say I could go up, I see a woman walking by. She looked my way and somewhere in my head I felt I knew her, but since we were both behind masks, I just figured I did not. But she persisted in looking at me above her mask with a furrowed brow and spoke my name, and I knew that voice. A voice from my school days, a voice I had not heard for over nine years. About the time she was asking me why I was there, they said those words that cut like a knife, you cannot go up, we are sorry. When the floodgates opened and my heart was pouring out, this friend, this angel sent straight from God, rubbed my back, spoke words of love to me, took me to her office, and allowed me the privacy I needed for such a raw, hard time. I was not supposed to be back there, but at that moment my hurt, my pain was far more important to this ambassador for God than the rules. And as I saw the horrible image of my sister on life support with blood running from her mouth and I spoke my final words to her with tears running freely down my face and my heart feeling as though it would stop, this friend, this angel cried with me. She shared in the pain of what was happening.
God knew before I arrived that I would be told no, God knew I was going to take it very hard, God knew I needed a private place to say my good-byes, God knew she worked there, I did not. God knew it all and He had already prepared her to recognize me, to come to my aid, to allow her love and kindness to shine through as she gave me shelter in the middle of my storm. He is good that way, always looking out for us.
My sister had been bed-ridden for years, blind for many. Her life consisted of a bed, a TV to listen to, and my brother and his wife taking care of her needs. She could not even stand up for a few moments. But even in that hard, often lonely existence, she made the best of it. She never complained or cried in front of you bemoaning her circumstances, she was just thankful she was still here, still able to talk to us, still able to be near her family, listening to the hustle and bustle of life. Life had not been kind to her, taking her only daughter right after she received a transplant. She and her husband, along with their son were left with a little one to love and raise. Life and health did not allow her to participate very much. But she could give out hugs and kisses, snuggles, and advice.
I do not understand why her life had to be so hard, or why her health had to be in steady decline, with multiple near-death experiences. Only God knows that. Only God knows how much hard, sorrow, hurt, joy, happiness, health, and wealth we need to get us heaven ready. His word tells us that He orders our steps or lack of them. He dictates or days and hours. And it tells that whatever our lot, it is good and perfect in Him.
As my sister was oscillating between this earth’s broken body and heaven, seeing and being completely transformed and healed extreme, God was right there. He was orchestrating it all, He was meeting her at death’s final breath and taking her to sights unseen and He was holding each of us in His loving hands. He was giving the peace that passes understanding, even as tears flowed and words of love escaped our lips.
I have read often that He never leaves us or forsakes us, and I can tell you that it is true. He did not say we would escape the hardness of life, or that we would not taste hurts that take our breath away. He said, that no matter where we are, no matter what the circumstances are, no matter how deep the pain, He would be with us, He will comfort us, and He will carry us as needed. I have felt carried this past week. Oh occasionally tears well up and even slip out, but not in a desperate I cannot take this kind of way, but in a, “I miss you here, I miss your voice, I miss your face, but I will see you again.” And then about the same time as those thoughts enter my mind, I think to myself: “Wow, The first face my sister has seen in years was Jesus.” “Those legs that were too weak to stand or walk, are now running on streets of gold.” “Those feeble hands that shook so bad that she could not get her food to her mouth without most of it falling onto the bed, are now steady and holding those of her maker and loved ones who have gone before.” And in that pendulum moment, my heart is made glad, my tears cease and I am flooded with joy.
God has her, she received the perfect healing, her faith is now sight.
Her hard life has ceased, every pain is gone, every lonely moment filled to overflowing, feet that could not, now can. Beauty beyond what I can imagine has captivated her. My oh my how awesome is that!
Until I see her again I will miss her “Sunday funnies.” She called me each Sunday to tell me a joke. I will miss our conversations that only sisters share. But I will walk with a spring in my step, a smile on my face, and hope for our future reunion. I will trust God in this hard season, I will lean closer to him, listen more intently, and make sure the oil in my lamp is full.
Because I do not know when my “pendulum” moment will come when I will walk my final step, breathe my last breath, and experience my last heartbeat. But I do know, I will walk in faith and live life to the fullest and trust that the God who created it all, is working it all out, for my good and His glory. He is good like that : )
What should be your take away from this: “If you do not know Him as Lord and Savior you need to, you will spend eternity somewhere, either heaven or hell.” “Make sure your lamp is filled with oil, your eyes are in His word and your heart is tender to His leading.” “Make sure you love well those around you, do not harbor unforgiveness of any kind.” “Trust if you have lost a loved one who was in Christ, you will see them again, and they are better than they have ever been.” “Walk in such a way that others see Jesus in you.” “Hold fast to what His word says and remember, He could come at any moment, so how we live second to second matters.” ” His peace that passes understanding is real, and available to you.” “He is faithful, giving what we need not one moment too soon or too late.” “You can trust him with your pain.” “He loves you more than you can imagine.” “He is good even in the hard.” “Joy is found even in the presence of sorrow and grief.” “Smile, He’s got this!”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4