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Hope in Death




Precious Moments

Kelly, my dear sweet friend, had been in the hospital for over a week and the news was not good. She had been in so much pain. Surgery was necessary. Her cancer had spread! I had lost two nights of sleep praying, burdened, and wrestling with the thought of her dying. Then Matt taught a familiar chapter of comfort and peace (John 14) at our Sunday evening service. Jesus told the disciples in John 14:28, “..if you loved me, you would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father..” The Spirit tugged and touched me when Matt read and expounded on that verse. My struggle had been about my loss and not with Kelly’s gain. I repeated to myself and in prayer several times, “Because I love Kelly, I rejoice that she is going to be with our Heavenly Father soon.” I still cried, but I felt peace and joy.

            I reached out with a text message after church that evening to see if I could pray with Kelly at the hospital before her procedure on Monday morning. No time had been given so Robert said he would call me. On Monday morning, she was taken before I could be with her. Robert called to tell me that Kelly would be coming home under hospice care in a couple of days. I cried a bit but told him that I chose to rejoice for her reunion with Christ. Robert was so graceful that he shared how Kelly had given them a scare during a card game when Josh put down the winning card. When they asked her if she was okay. She opened her eyes and responded, “Yes, but I would be better if I had won.” He laughed as he shared the story. Kelly was taking everything in stride. (Robert called me when Kelly got back to her room so that I could pray with her.)

            Although Kelly was going home on Tuesday, I wanted to visit her that day. I wanted to give her flowers and tell her how much I appreciated and cared for her. I picked up Karen and headed to University Hospital. I told Kelly that I brought flowers because each rose stood for something that I appreciated about her. I told her that I appreciated her praying for me. (Even on Sunday evening before she had fluid removed from her lungs so she could breathe, she texted, “Please let me know how we can pray for you.” I hesitated but asked her to pray for the 31 students of the Maple Good News Club.) I treasured the times that we spent together and shared our common faith. Her steadfastness and faith throughout the years had encouraged me. I thanked her for her words of advice. I told her that I loved her.

            Karen and I listened as Kelly told us about all the family that was coming in from out of state to see her. She mentioned and demonstrated how she closed her eyes and put her hands on her chest when she lost the card game to Josh. She was looking forward to Josh coming back to the hospital to play games that evening. Karen and I were delighted that Kelly had so much to say. She shared that she wondered what dying would be like and once she got to Heaven who she would see. “I’m not sure about all the details, but it will be wonderful! You will be with Jesus” I shared. “Amen,” she agreed. She had to take breaks and would close her eyes before talking more. She talked about all the kids. We knew she was tired but before leaving Karen gave her a wonderful foot massage. Shortly after that I prayed with her, and we left.

            On Tuesday, I texted Robert to see if Kelly made it home. He texted me a picture. You would have thought that the family was celebrating Kelly’s birthday. Balloons around the entry of her room, there were pictures, cards, and flowers on the table for her to see. What a welcome home! He said she was resting well. I contacted Robert that evening to see if I could visit and pray with Kelly the next day. I went before the family arrived on Wednesday morning. I asked her how she was doing. “Are you in pain?” “No, but I can’t breathe,” as she kept trying to get an O2 count.

I told her that I wanted to read a passage and pray with her. I read, “…so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:20b-21 Those were the last verses that I read from the Bible to Kelly. “Amen,” she said as she nodded her head. I leaned into to tell her that her prayers were answered. I smiled and said, “We had two children make a profession of faith at the Maple Good News Club.”

“Praise the Lord!” she said as she labored to breathe.

I shared that a teacher friend wanted me to give her a hug. She put her arms out, and I leaned down to hug her. She held me tight! I knew it was as much for me as it was for our friend. I sat down, and she closed her eyes, and I softly quoted Psalm 23. When she opened her eyes, I told her that I had thought about her question about how she would die. I told her that Mom and Dad had peace about their eternal home, and they just fell asleep. “You will just close your eyes and go to sleep safely in the arms of Jesus. Just rest and find peace in Him.”

Before I left Kelly’s bedside, I asked her what she wanted me to pray for her. She said, “Pray that it is quick and please pray for Robert and the family.” She had always said that she wanted God to fulfill His plan in her life and in His time. I think she knew God’s plan and time for her to enter her eternal home was soon.

I couldn’t get back over to see Kelly again until Saturday morning. I took a children’s book, The Awesome Super Fantastic Forever Party, to read to Kelly. She was resting, and Robert told me that she had been that way for a while. Her condition wasn’t anything new to me, so I knew that she would hear me but may not be able to respond. I stepped around the bed and gave Kelly a kiss on the forehead and told her that I loved her. She mouthed, “I love you.” I told her that I had a book to read to her. When I got to the page that said for someone to go to the Forever Party that they had to accept the invitation by taking Jesus as Lord, King, and Savior. I told her that I knew that she had done that. She gave a little grunt as a response. I continued to read and told her that the last page reminded me of her prayer request on Wednesday. “PLEASE COME QUICKLY, JESUS!”

I held Kelly’s hand and prayed once again that it would be quick for her. I prayed for Robert and the family. I repeated that I rejoiced to know that she would be with the Heavenly Father soon as I fought back my tears. Matt prayed for Kelly too, and we left as the family started arriving for their visitation.

Kelly’ prayer and mine were answered on Sunday evening. I could only pray for her death to be quick because I loved her and knew that she would be with our Heavenly Father. A little over three weeks prior to her death, Kelly, Robert, Karen, Charlie, Matt, and I had our first game night together. The fellowship was sweet! Kelly commented more than once that evening, “We should do this again.” We won’t be able to have another game night here with Kelly, but as believers we will be able to join her, as described by Joni Eareckson Tada, at The Awesome Super Fantastic Forever Party with Jesus in Heaven. If you haven’t given your life to Jesus, it’s not too late to accept His invitation to come to Him by faith. Kelly shared many times over the years that her greatest desire was for all her family and friends to know Jesus and to be in Heaven with her.

 

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