Jan died Tuesday morning. She told me awhile back that the doctors said the cancer that lay dormant for a few years had returned with a vengeance. She had six months or less to live.
We met Jan, our next-door neighbor, before we ever moved to our current home. She phoned to say the fence was broken and ask if we would split the cost of repairs. Of course we agreed.
After we moved in, we often met Jan walking Sophie, her golden Lab, while we walked Paige. After Sophie passed, Jan’s daughter gave her Harley, a handsome black Lab. Jan’s pockets always carried an abundance of Charlee Bears, which she freely shared with other dogs along her walk. First Sophie, then Harley, was “just perfect”. She loved these canine companions dearly.
Don and I prayed for opportunities to serve her, and to share the love of Jesus with her. One day I asked, in the context of the conversation, if Jesus was her Savior.
“Yes, He is. I talk to Him every night.”
Jan continued walking Harley ’til about two weeks ago, when she simply was too weary to continue. Harley went back to Jan’s daughter and was reunited with old buddies there.
Over these months we took baked goods, flowers, replaced light bulbs, sent cards and assured her of our prayers, so grateful to know Jesus was on this journey with Jan.
Monday morning Don and I read Romans 8:38-39:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I felt those verses were for Jan that day. We hadn’t seen her in a week, so didn’t realize how quickly she had declined. I wrote the scriptures in a card and called to see if we could bring it over.
One of her daughters answered the phone. “She’s unconscious, on morphine, but you’re welcome to come talk to her.”
Entering Jan’s room that afternoon, we saw her unconscious form. As we stood at her bedside I took her hand and said, “Jan, it’s Carol and Don.” She seemed to try to respond as her lips moved, without sound. “We brought you a card, and I’ll just read it to you.”
I read the verses aloud. Medical professionals say hearing is the last sense to go, so I wanted these scriptures to be in her heart and mind as she transitioned. “NOTHING will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Unknown to me, two of her three daughters had entered the room and listened. As I told Jan “When you see Jesus calling you, just go to Him – just let go.” Her daughter murmured, “yes.”
Jan let go Tuesday morning at about 6 o’clock.
Isn’t it just like God to give us a scripture that we’ll need for something that very day? Don and I were so glad to see Jan and say goodbye, tell her we look forward to seeing her again at Jesus’ feet.
And yes, walking out our garage doors feels empty now, just knowing our Jan is no longer here. And yet we rejoice knowing she is in the presence of Jesus Christ, Lord, Savior, Messiah. And because of God’s provision for our sin through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we will see her again.
Thought: if you have a loved one in a coma, or near death, keep talking to them, asking God to allow your words to sink into their spirit.