I really didn’t want to. It was my husband’s idea and gentle coaching that encouraged me into it. Then I decided I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do it. Words don’t show people you care – actions do. So we went. This morning we visited a friend and her husband, and we prayed with them, as my friend lay dying on a hospital bed in their yellow house with a broken screen door.
I was so scared of what I would see and how I would react, and of seeing Cheryl in pain. And yes it was a shock to see her and yes her body is tiny and fragile, the cancer having eaten away at her. But I also saw love in that room. A huge love for each other between husband and wife. And there was appreciation in her eyes for the fact that we came.
You change the words you say when someone is dying. You don’t talk about things that matter not. I’m not going to be seeing Cheryl in this life again, so I took the time to apologize for not coming sooner (I hadn’t known how bad she was until school had started back and I saw her two kids after not seeing them over summer break). I took the time to say I would keep an eye out for her kids for as long as we are in the same country. Cheryl can no longer talk, but she was able to write out some questions. She started with ‘Can you get Ash….’ was as far as she got before I realized she was asking her husband to get some toys for the baby who was a bit restless. We shouldn’t have taken him, but I wanted her to see how big he is getting. Even in her final days – she is thinking like a Mother. Thinking practically.
My husband asked them if we could pray for them. They said yes. We gathered around the bed. Michael read a Psalm and as his strong and clear voice read those comforting words, Cheryl’s voiceless mouth, mouthed the words by heart, her eyes closed in concentration. Fighting the sleep that tugs at her tired body. Michael led us in prayer, asking for God’s peace and loving arms to surround them all. Two children that will soon be motherless. A husband who is bone weary himself, from the journey they have been on. And a woman who is preparing to meet her maker.
Michael asked her if she knows Jesus, if she knows where she is going when she dies. She nodded and mouthed yes. Inside me I finally breathed a deep breath. Thank you Lord. Comfort her Jesus.
She lies there, on the brink of eternity. Death could come any day now. She will not meet the new week. This is a time for goodbyes and see you laters, in the next life. To make promises I intend to uphold. I will keep an eye on her kids. We will be there for them.
Just as she is lying there, struggling to breathe, on the brink of eternity, so are we all are we not? We could only be one car accident away from eternity. One natural disaster. One fruitloop with a gun. The only difference is Cheryl’s imminent death is a certainty. Do you know where you will spend eternity?