It reminded me of the answer the evangelist Dwight L. Moody gave two women who asked him if he had dying grace. “No,” he answered, “I’m not dying yet.” God gives that special grace at the moment it’s needed, not before.
My mother and grandmother were both Quakers, and I was raised a Quaker with loving values. My mother lived these values throughout her life, and it was largely her example of freely giving of herself for others that influenced me as a young woman to dedicate my life to full-time Christian service—a decision I have never regretted.
I had planned to make a trans-Atlantic trip to be with her for a scheduled joint-replacement surgery and to help during her recovery, but three weeks before my travel date my sister phoned to let me know that our mother had been hospitalized and knew she was not going to recover. I caught the next available flight and was at her side twelve hours later.
My sister, brother, and I gathered around our mother’s hospital bed, spending her last hours reminiscing about our happy family life and talking about how much she meant to us. Though my mother was heavily sedated, she was very much with us in spirit. It was a precious, bonding experience for the three of us siblings, which now strengthens our ties.
My mother didn’t fear death and was very thankful for the life she had lived, for she had lived it to the full.
At one point I whispered to her my deep appreciation for the unconditional love and moral support she had always given me, despite the fact that my chosen vocation had meant that she wasn’t able to see me or my two children very often, and now her three great-grandchildren were growing up on foreign fields of service as well. After I had thanked her, I asked if she would continue to help me from the “other side,” to which she nodded yes.
Just a few minutes before her passing, she opened her eyes and looked across the room toward the ceiling. I was sitting on the side of her bed, holding her hand, but she looked right past me. I leaned over to be in her line of sight, but it was as though she was looking right through me. That’s when I realized that she was seeing someone or something that the rest of us couldn’t see. I asked her who or what she was seeing, but she couldn’t answer. Instead, she closed her eyes, a peaceful expression came across her face, and she was gone.
I miss her, of course, but I’m very thankful that she passed on so peacefully and painlessly. The Lord gave me the grace to say goodbye to one of the dearest people in my life, until we are together again forever.
Death for a Christian is not really death at all. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”1
If you haven’t yet received Jesus and His gift of eternal life, you can right now by praying the following:
Jesus, please forgive me for all my sins. I believe that You gave Your life for me. I open the door of my heart and ask You to please come in and give me Your gift of eternal life. Amen.
1. John 11:25–26