Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. ~ James 4:14
Many years ago, I used to keep a sign at my workstation that read, 'Life is unpredictable. Eat dessert first.' I got loads of comments and lots of chuckles about that statement, but it is so true. Life can change in the blink of an eye.
Last week, I wrote “A Different Kind of Sunday,” highlighting the song ‘Our God Is Able’ for my Worship Song Sunday post. I wrote it after a day spent with my sweet friend and sister, Daveida, who once again found herself in a major, painful battle with cancer. I penned these very words that day:
But my sweet friend and sister-in-Christ KNOWS that Our God is able.
Yes, oh YES she knows this!!
Able to heal. Able to strengthen. Able to comfort. Able to deliver. Able to redeem. Able to transform. Able to raise the dead to life. Able to make a way when there seems to be NO WAY.
Able to do IMPOSSIBLE things.
She knows God won't fail her. She knows God won't leave her or forsake her. She knows God loves her.
Daveida believed those truths for her life with her whole heart, mind, soul and strength. Those of us who loved her dearly were in agreement with her and continually reminded her of and encouraged her with those truths.
I consider this Sunday a different kind of Sunday also because today, Daveida is no longer with us. As her mother told me this past Thursday night, “She’s left us.” Yes, my friend passed away. Today, she is in the arms of her beautiful Savior, Jesus Christ, while our arms -- and our hearts -- are now empty.
Right up until the end, all of us, Daveida included, believed that God was going to do a mighty, supernatural work and heal her…totally and completely….bringing all glory and honor to Him, because the doctors had given up, saying there was nothing more that they could do for her. Several strong and faithful people of prayer, none of whom knew one another at the time (and two who didn’t even know Daveida at all, but who had been asked to pray for her by friends), had clearly heard God speak to their spirit and tell them, ‘this will not end in death for her.’
We didn’t know how or when healing would come. But we all trusted and believed, and thanked God for how He was going to bring this all about. Last Saturday when several of us went to visit her, and she rocked back and forth in pain in her living room, we continued to trust and believe with thankfulness that this would not end in death for her. Three days later, this past Tuesday night, when I stopped by Daveida’s home to hang out with her for awhile and she seemed so much better, I continued to trust and believe with thankfulness that this would not end in death for her. We made plans for me to stop by the next morning to make her breakfast.
Wednesday morning, when Daveida called me to cancel breakfast, telling me that she could no longer stand the pain and was having her son drive her to the ER; and on my way to the hospital, when I made the phone call to several friends to spread the word to pray pray PRAY for Daveida; and when she slipped into a coma later in the day after being taken for a CT scan of her lungs to check for blood clots; and as so many of us gathered together with her family in the ER's tiny waiting area, we continued to trust and believe with thankfulness that God was going to heal our girl and that this would not end in death for her.
When we got word later that she was awake, and lucid, and cracking jokes, WE REJOICED!!!!! And we continued to trust and believe with thankfulness that this would not end in death for her. That night, Daveida held court in the ER while she waited for the staff to find a room for her, listening to praise music on a friend’s iTouch, talking and laughing and enjoying the revolving door of company in the form of family and friends that she received (oh, we all broke SO MANY hospital rules). We all thanked and praised God, joyfully sending out messages to those who could not come, but who were diligently praying at home or at church, that once again, God had rescued our dear Daveida (as He had done almost a year and a half ago). And we all continued to trust and believe with thankfulness that this would not end in death for her.
Thursday afternoon, I stopped by the hospital to visit with Daveida. She looked as if she had slipped back into a coma, although her family said she was just asleep from the pain meds she'd been given. Just before I left, she sat straight up in bed, struggling to breathe and acting as if she had to throw up. Her eyes reflected so much pain, and she looked so disoriented, it hurt to look at her. I kept repeating to myself, “Lord, I trust You. You said You were going to heal her and I believe You will.” I leaned over to Daveida, took her face in my hands and spoke words of encouragement to her. I told her to hang on, that the Lord was going to bring her through this, as He had promised. I told her I loved her. I saw a bit of recognition in her eyes. And a bit of hope, struggling to stand firm. I kissed her and said that I would see her tomorrow. I walked away, fully believing that I would.
But then -- life changed, in the blink of an eye.
That night, my family took me out to dinner for my birthday. We switched cars and I inadvertently left my cell phone in the other one. I didn’t even realize I was without it until I got home. After much searching, I remembered it was in my car, and ran out to get it. What I saw when I checked it made my dinner want to come rushing right out of my stomach. There’s a horror movie called ‘1 Missed Call.’ Well, I felt as if I were starring in my own horror movie as I read the words '8 Missed Calls' on my phone’s screen, most of them coming from Daveida’s mom and sister, as well as two other mutual friends. I didn’t wait to hear the messages, but called back her mom, who shared that her daughter was gone.
Like a mist, Daveida appeared for a little time on this earth….and then vanished.
Three days later, I am still reeling from the news. I’m still in a state of shock. I’m doing all the normal, day-to-day things -- running errands, cooking, doing laundry, taking my daughter and her friend to the mall -- but I feel like I’m moving in a dream. A very bad dream.
So what happened? As the four of us who were closest to Daveida came together to comfort her family and each other, this is the question we kept asking and continue asking. We are not shaking our fists in anger and raging at God. But we are shaking our heads. We’re confused. We’re hurt. What happened here? Did those people who said they heard that this would not end in death for Daveida hear incorrectly from God? Did we all misunderstand Him? Some have said that yes, God did indeed heal Daveida completely. She was so tired and in so much pain, He could no longer bear to watch His daughter suffer so. So He called her home to heal her there.
In some way, I can understand this reasoning. But how do you explain that to the shy 11 year old boy who is grieving for his mother and internalizing his pain? How do you explain that to the 15 year old woman child who now not only has to raise her own 7 month old baby but her younger brother as well, all while attending high school, without the benefit of her mother’s guidance, encouragement and support? How do you explain that to the 19 year old young man who promised his mother he would continue on with college NO MATTER WHAT, and is struggling now to keep that promise, as he wonders where and with whom will his two younger siblings reside?
Our faith, hope and trust is anchored in Jesus Christ. But at the moment, all three of these things are being sorely tested in myself and many others. We remain hurt and confused. We are looking to our Lord for strength, for comfort, for peace. We know that His ways are not our ways, and that our thoughts are not His thoughts. We are not doubting His Sovereignty. But like David did in so many of the psalms, we are crying out to the Lord, looking to Him for answers.
I will miss my beautiful friend Daveida. The one year and four months since we met truly felt like it passed in the blink of an eye. But in that blink, she taught me so much: quiet dignity in spite of pain and suffering; total dependence on God for EVERYTHING; trust in Him in the midst of the darkest possible storms; endurance and perseverance despite heavy burdens and challenges. She gave me so much: love, support, hope, encouragement, wise counsel, laughter. Hers was a well lived life. And she was a woman much loved.
I’d like to ask a favor of those of you who have stopped by to read this post:
Would you please share your comments on this story? What do you think and how do you feel about what I’ve shared here? Have you ever experienced anything like this, confused over the possibility of misunderstanding God’s message to you, or wondering if you had really even heard from Him at all?
I’d really appreciate hearing from you. Thank you, dear ones!
Teach me to number my days
And count every moment before it slips away
Take in all the colors before they fade to gray
I don't want to miss even just a second more of this
It happens in a blink
It happens in a flash
It happens in the time it takes to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there's no stopping time
What is it I've done with my life?
It happens in a blink ~ Blink, by Revive