"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi
See ya' soon!
Ernest Hemingway once
said, “Every true story ends in death.” This is a true story.
Many people may
think that religion columnists and authors have a happy, joyous life where you
are constantly whistling “Jesus Loves Me,” the birds are singing your name and
the squirrels are ironing your clothes. We are full of assurance of happy days
both in this world and the world yet to come. Nothing is farther from the
truth. I speak for myself (and I think also for my co-columnist, Brenda) when I
say we have trials, sorrows and unfortunate events to come our way which can
knock us from the mountain top to the lowest valley in a second.
non-believers, we lose and grieve over the loss of family and friends. However,
unlike the non-believers of our community, we have the support of Christian
brothers and sisters in our churches and communities. And we have a Hope. A
Hope that defines our faith and promises us an eternal life where we will see
our friends and loved ones again where there is no pain, no sorrow, no tears,
When I was 14 years
old, I began as pianist for the Second Avenue Baptist Church in Decatur, GA. That
is a horrible age to be thrust into a new place and have to ‘fit in’ with other
teenagers at that stressful time of life. However, I was lucky in that all the
other students were friendly, outgoing and accepted this nerdy, geeky,
bespectacled kid into their group without a second thought. However, one young
girl fetched my eye. For one thing, she was skinnier that I was (and I only
weighed 130 lbs. in those days), she had a marvelous voice, an extremely dry
wit and she did the strangest thing with her left eye when she would hit the
high notes. It would kinda bug out, roll up and her eyelid would flutter like a
trapped butterfly. I was enchanted at first glance. Her name was Becky.
As we got old
enough, we went out a couple times, but knew before long that we were destined
to become better friends than anything more serious. And we were. We went to
different high schools, but both of us ended up at Georgia Southern for
college. There, Becky met her future husband….and I learned to play guitar.
We stayed somewhat
in touch over the years since, but more so since I began to work at the
Stockbridge Library. Becky lived close by and would drop in occasionally for
book browsing. I looked forward to those days; it was so nice to see my friend
again on a semi-regular basis and rebuild a friendship.
However, about two
years ago, Becky was diagnosed with a very aggressive type of cancer. Very
aggressive and very little hope was given to her. However, the medical
profession was not counting on the faith in God that Becky, her family and her
friends have. After chemo, stem cell transplants, bone marrow transplants and
all manner of horrid things done to her body, not only did Becky’s smile still
light up the room and her first words gave praise to God, but she went into a
remission of sorts. The year she was promised extended into the second year.
However, the cancer
returned with a vengeance and my dear friend lost her battle to the disease
this past week. My heart broke. No longer would I see her strolling through the
library shelves looking for a book to take for her chemo-day reading. No longer
would her faith and smile bless those around her. Her memorial service was
Sunday, but I did not go. It just didn’t seem like it was something I needed to
do, nor would Becky have expected it from me.
She is now whole,
well, free from cancer and jumping all over those streets of heaven reuniting
with her parents and other family and friends who have gone before. And, if I
know Becky, she’s singing soprano in that heavenly choir with that left eye
bugged out and eyelid fluttering.
Your family and
friends will also miss you, Becky, but we are glad you have gone home to be
with the God you love so much. I can’t wait to see you again.
And for today my
friends, this is been the gospel according to Jimmy….with a tear in his eye.