I remember the night before she passed. I just sat in the room with her. I held her hand, caressed her hair, sang to her, talked to her, and just reminisced over all the memories I had with her. I remember looking at her feeble body. 84 years of life, laying in the bed, all summed up in this one moment. Her skin so frail, her body so weak, and her eyes so tired. Every breath she took was so labored and so strained. I knew then that death was near. I remember looking at her and thinking, “We’re all going this way someday, even me. No one can escape physical death, no one.”
“It is appointed for men to die once and after this the judgement.”-Hebrews 9:27
As she lay there, I couldn’t help but think in that moment, that all the cares of this world didn’t matter to her. How much money she had in her bank account, it didn’t matter. How many nice clothes she had or didn’t have, it didn’t matter. How many people liked her or did not like her, it didn’t matter. Her physical appearance and looks, it didn’t matter. She was dying and quite frankly the only thing that mattered at this point was whether her soul was right with the Lord.
The next day I went to work, thinking I would get to see her again after I got off. I just needed the Lord to give me the strength to make it through the day. After my morning medicine pass to my patients, I had a small window of time. So I grabbed some breakfast and took a break. I called my mom wanting to check on her to see how she was doing, and then I heard the one thing I didn’t want to hear. My mom was crying, and she said “Ashley, I think she’s gone. I think she’s gone!” Everything stood frozen in time. My heart sank. Tears immediately begin to well within me. I said, “Mom are you sure? Are you sure?” My mom then replied, “Yes, I think she’s gone. I have called the hospice nurse and she’s on her way to confirm.” I didn’t want to believe it. I left work immediately and headed that way.
The drive to her house seemed like the longest drive in my life. I couldn’t get there fast enough! As I drove, I just kept praying and crying out to God. I had to see it for myself. I needed to know that she was really gone. As I walked into the house, the countenance of everyone in the room said it all. But yet and still, I had to see her for myself. I walked into the room and I saw her. She looked so peaceful, lifeless but peaceful. Immediately I swung my stethoscope off from around my neck and placed it upon her chest. I waited, and waited and waited. I wanted to hear that heartbeat! I needed to hear it. But there was nothing, just silence. I felt for her pulses. As I palpated her arteries, I just wanted to feel the pressure of her pulse against my fingers. I waited and waited and waited. But there was nothing. No feeling, no pulse, no heartbeat. Then… I knew she was gone. She was really gone. Tears streamed down my face and rolled down from cheeks onto her chest. As sad as I was, there was still a peace that overtook me. It was her time. She had lived her life and she had died in the Lord. The Lord allowed her to die at peace in her home. No more pills, no more pain, no more tears, just rest.
“The righteous perish and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”- Isaiah 57:1-2
She loved her sweets! lol And was always a master in the kitchen.
I write all of this to lovingly encourage you, to understand the reality of death. Our lives will end. We all will die. Please hear and feel my heart as I write these words. This life is not a game, it’s not. Death is no respecter of persons. It comes to the young, the old, the sick, and the healthy. Life is short and eternity is forever. Forgive quickly, love fervently, and live righteously. Let go of hatred, jealousy, bitterness and any kind of evil. Cherish those God has blessed you with. This world is not forever. It’s so important that each day we live we live for the glory of God and we live as if it was our last day on earth. Contrary to what the world tells us, everyone that dies does not go to be with the Lord . We can’t expect to live however we want down here, live for ourselves and live a life that is contrary to God’s word and then die and go to heaven. It doesn’t work like that. If we die without obeying the gospel of Christ and die without continually living a life for Christ we will die lost and will be forever separated from God. There is no greater tragedy than that.
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out. Those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.”-John 5:28-29
But for God’s faithful children, death is not something we have to fear or dread. We know what awaits us is far better that what we have here on earth. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, we have the victory over death. So whether we die later today, tomorrow, next week, next month, or 30 years from now we can have confidence in what Jesus did on the cross. And because of what Jesus did, death will be a sweet friend for us.
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”-1 Thess 4:13-14
In loving memory of Bertha Williams
Although you were widowed and had no children, through Christ you were a mother and grandmother to so many. Thank you for teaching me to be selfless and to care for someone other than myself. Thank you for teaching me the faithfulness of God both through your life and through your death. Rest on my sweet Bertha!