Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his faithful servants.
~ Psalm 116:15 NIV
After sharing Sara's nearing-end-of-life-story with you, it seemed right to let you know I received word early this morning she died peacefully last night, her mother and brother by her side. Anguish and relief inhabit my heart, such paradox on the surface. It is only in deep places they coexist.
I wonder if it is because of my own mother's death when I was a little girl that I see death's mercy. Mama battled cancer in the early 70s when treatments were much more barbaric and pain managment was in its infancy; my father suffered a 14-month end-of-life 4 1/2 years ago, excruciating to witness. Dementia tangled his mind and feebled his body, and my siblings and I learned to care for him in a way I wish no child ever again would have to experience.
Death was a mercy to my parents.
Under the weight of great loss I tenderly offer:
death is mercy for Sara.
At the funeral of a friend's father years ago, my pastor offered beautiful words of encouragment, kind companion when I've since walked through the valley of death's shadow—
"Even if [he] had the choice to come back fully healthy,
to be with the people he loved more than anyone in the world,
he'd choose not to leave the presence of God."
At another funeral, more balm for the grieving–
"Love doesn't die, people do.
When everything else is gone,
you still have that to give.”
* * * * * *
Sara's legacy is a gift of eternal love and life well lived until the end. For her, home wasn't a place bound by geography or construction, it was in the hearts of those she loves and who love her…her family, her friends and her King.
Left to my own construction, Sara's life would've been much different; God would have healed her body. She would still tell His story of glory and grace, but from the perspective of miracle, not suffering.
But then I can't help but think about how in dying she taught others how to live, truly live! She planted seeds of joy in thousands of hearts–thousands!–and by example demonstrated what that looks like when life is hard, when it hurts.
Confined to her apartment for years, and more recently from her bed, Sara mined the precious and priceless from Ancient Words. She testified to God's goodness in spite of her illness, she praised His faithfulness as He allowed her to see how His best was better than her best.
Her life became a vessel of God's truth, resulting in the transformation of others; not because of her but because of Christ–His power–in her, working through her!
Talk about joy…!
* * * * * * *
It is an odd thing to explain, this grieving a friend I've never met. I admitted that to Jessica recently–on the inside the tears flow freely but on the outside I don't know how to share. When I've begun to try, my family and friends don't know quite what to say, so I say little and let the storm run its course on the inside.
But I've got this space and it's often where I process "out loud."
Mainly I just wanted to share how others have encouraged me at these saddest of times…and to offer you the Great Hope that enabled Sara to choose joy in life and in death.
Sara, whose name means princess….
Sara, who lived the truth of "… to live is Christ and to die is gain"…
Sara, who was faithful with what she had been given…
Title quote by Emily Dickinson.