I’ve had a full last couple of days! Whew! Just when I think our schedule can’t get more full, it does. Or just when I think I cannot add one more thing into my schedule, I’m forced to. That was the case on Friday evening. Bear with me, this post might be a little longer than normal! 🙂
Friday evening I got a call from my pastor, Pastor Barb. I have written about her in previous posts. However, with Jill’s passing, I haven’t written an update on her condition. She had a double mastectomy on February 26. She came through the surgery great, and her lymph nodes were negative, but she had a few complications with pain and then pneumonia afterwards. She is finally home, and seems to be doing pretty well. She could certainly use your prayers though for healing and God’s continued care for her! She is such a blessing in my life!
Anyway, she called me Friday evening as we were preparing for company…a couple of my brothers and their families were stopping by after dinner. Pastor Barb began a conversation with me that I was not prepared for. Her words stopped me in my tracks, and took my breath away. She asked me to do something I had never done before…she asked me if I would be willing to help our friend Steve plan his funeral service. That’s right…plan his funeral service…
I had stopped down to the VA Hospital to see Steve on Thursday evening. He has brain cancer. Each time I see him, I see how his physical condition has deteriorated from the time before. We had a good conversation, and I was privileged to meet his brother Brian who came while I was there. I saw something disturbing though…he had a band around his right wrist that said, “DO NOT RESUSCITATE.” I wasn’t prepared for that. He said he has stopped taking radiation, and is now considered terminal. Trying to be strong, I told him God is still using him, God loves him and so do I!
So, when I got Pastor Barb’s call, I wasn’t shocked by her words…I just wasn’t prepared for them. She asked if I could go down in the next couple of days to talk with Steve about his funeral service…to help him pick out scripture verses, songs, and talk about any other details he wanted. I remember my mind swimming in a milling different directions, and thinking, “I can’t do this. This is beyond me! Especially with just losing Jill. I CAN’T DO THIS!” But the words came out of my mouth…”I’ll go down to see Steve tomorrow.” I am ashamed to say, after I got off the phone with Pastor Barb (Bill only heard my side of the conversation and could piece together what I was being asked to do) I said to Bill in not so nice of a tone, “WHAT ELSE DOES GOD WANT ME TO DO?!!”
Feeling a little overwhelmed, yet feeling a calm peace about talking to Steve about his funeral, I loaded up yesterday and went to see him. When I arrived, he was very sleepy, but he started the conversation. I couldn’t believe how strong I was…I thought I would be a basket-case, but I wasn’t it. I felt, which is weird to say…I felt God’s strength. My feelings of being overwhelmed and uncomfortable, suddenly changed to feelings of this opportunity being an honor and a privilege. An opportunity for God to use me to help Steve plan his very own funeral. I felt unworthy for such a task!
He picked out a scripture in Isaiah, one of his favorites in Romans, and with Pastor Barb’s assistance over the phone, we chose John 14:1-4 which says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” I told Steve those were Jesus’ words…he began to cry and said he really liked that scripture.
He had some songs already in mind that he wanted played. We talked about allowing time for people to share about Steve and to share memories during the funeral service. We talked about our friend Tally’s funeral service and what he liked about it. We talked about all of the people he will see in heaven…Jim Furman, Tally, Steve’s dad, and I said, “You’ll even get to meet my dad and see my mom again!” He smiled. Steve told me that he’s getting excited to go there, which brought tears to my eyes. I told him I was excited for him too, that I will miss him greatly, and that I was a little envious that he’ll get to experience Paradise with Jesus soon. He smiled at that too.
Steve’s mom and sister arrived, which was a blessing for us all. They were relieved to see what Steve and I were planning. I was relieved to confirm some of the details with them. And I could see that a weight was lifted off of Steve…that this was one piece he didn’t have to worry about anymore…that his funeral service would be the way he wanted it to be and that his family was in agreement with it. I could then see this was all a part of God’s perfect plan…for all of us. I was humbled and in awe.
I left the hospital emotionally exhausted, yet feeling so blessed that God allowed me to be a part of the most important part of Steve’s earthly life…the end. It brings tears to my eyes when I think about how I will miss Steve when his life here on earth ends, but I know he’ll be where he won’t be suffering anymore…he’ll be in the arms of Jesus. Steve may have hours, days, maybe even weeks left on this earth…he’s still touching all of us and I know he will continue to do so until God calls him home.