My dear friend, godmother, mentor and walking buddy has taken the hand of Jesus and stepped over into His country. She found out in April that her life was going to change forever, whether it was through healing or through death.
There are many lasts when a person begins their journey towards death, even sudden death. When someone is taken quickly, unexpectedly, the ones left behind will think of last words, fights, laughs...the last things they did together or why they were apart at the last.
I had the blessed opportunity to share some "lasts" with my friend. By God's grace my 6 children and I were able to drive 1500 miles in our little van to visit while Terry was still responding to the chemo relatively well. We all got to see her and, because of the kindness of others, my little boys were able to visit with family for two days and my big girls with friends so I could sit with my friend. Sometimes we said nothing. Sometimes I was asked to position my head so the sun wouldn't be in her eyes or to warm a hot pack in the microwave for use to relieve some of the pain. Sometimes I just sat next to her chair clinging to her arm...laughing, crying, talking, waiting...loving God, hating death. We stayed from Wednesday to Sunday after church. We took pictures. We said goodbye and I watched her being helped to the car by her children. It was a last. The last time I saw her with these earthly eyes.
For days and weeks after that I sent emails for our daily "walks". Our last walk had taken place in Mount Hermon. One lap around the block, but it was so precious to me! Now our walks were in cyber space, but we still walked, though I did all the talking. And then the news came that her body was no longer responding to chemo. We kept walking but the walks were slower and slower with fewer and fewer words. We had our last "walk" on September 15 and our last words over the phone a few days later.
For anyone who has ever attended a birth you may understand this. When the contractions start coming there is a sense of excitement. The life changing moment is almost here, though there are usually many hours of waiting and work ahead. The mother is still able to talk and interact with those around her relatively well. There might even be some joking. But when a woman starts to go through transition everything changes. She desires the atmosphere around her to change so she can focus on the work at hand without distraction. The lights are dimmed and there is a reverent quiet that hangs in the air. The mother does whatever she must to work with her body toward the birthing of that precious babe. It seemed like the same thing was taking place as Terry's body began going through the contractions that would birth her from this life into the next.
And in those moments her family experienced precious, painful, glorious moments with that sweet lady. Their own lasts that will stay in their hearts and minds forever while those of us in the "waiting room" contemplated what our lasts had been.
Last night her last breath was breathed, but a first took place as well. Her first breath in the King's Country!
Christ our eternal King and God, You have destroyed death and the devil by Your Cross and have restored man to life by Your Resurrection; give rest, Lord, to the soul of Your servant Terry who has fallen asleep, in Your Kingdom, where there is no pain, sorrow or suffering. In Your goodness and love for all men, pardon all the sins she has committed in thought word or deed, for there is no man or woman who lives and sins not, You only are without sin. For You are the Resurrection, the Life, and Repose of Your servant Terry, departed this life, O Christ our God; and to You do we send up glory with Your Eternal Father and Your All-holy, Good and Life-creating Spirit; both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen