Who drives 5 hours to “crash” a memorial service for someone they came to know through a transparent, heartfelt blog their husband had been writing for 20 months whose wife (and entire family) were walking through the valley of incurable brain cancer? That would be me. I was utterly compelled. Read Blog Here
It was a profoundly spiritual gathering. Time stood still as I drank in what was shared and the emotion that swelled in unison in waves across the mass of people gathered. I found myself catching my breath repeatedly and wiping away tears as if the loss were mine.
Can death be beautiful? Can someone’s life withering away to a ravaging disease like cancer create delight and glory and worship? Can an untimely death provide the opportunity for a brave woman and her loving family to exemplify the desire to “decrease” and the power of God and love of Jesus to “increase” spilling out to everyone they knew? Yes and amen.
Jenny was adamant that this gathering not be an about her, even though everyone there gathered to celebrate her life. She lived well, loved abundantly, fought cancer vigilantly and surrendered ultimately to her savior’s embrace with grace, dignity, thankfulness and hope that never wavered. Her entire life pointed everyone she knew to Jesus, to her final days.
She did not want to be spoken of and insisted that her pastor, 2 of her 5 children and her sister (who biked cross-country in her honor to raise money for a cure for brain cancer) focused on the redeeming work of God through her and not any “good” in her. She was a humble woman who knew the best in her was him.
Ironic what we so vigorously pursue and what remains when the sands of time run through the sieve of death are profoundly opposed to one another. Her physical beauty was mentioned only briefly, in light of the eternal beauty that increased as her body failed and physical appearance faded with the side effects of cancer and chemo. No one ever mentioned the size of her home, the fitness of her body, the style of her clothing, her level of education, what career she pursued, her extent of travel or any of her talents (like cooking or sewing or painting).
Every word shared pointed exclusively toward her love for God, her faith in his goodness, her love for others, her natural ability to disciple and mentor others through relationship, her appetite for scripture and her passion for expressing her relentless, unwavering confidence and trust in God. No one ever brought up denomination, church attendance or any church activity she was involved in.
Although I have never experienced this kind of traumatic loss and she would never have chosen to leave the love of her life of 26 years nor her 5 beautiful, adult children knowing she would never see them marry or become parents, she longed for Jesus, yearned to be in his company face to face and worship unhindered by time, flesh and death or dying. She committed her family to Jesus and let go leaving ripples of joy and peace and comfort.
I wish I had known this woman. I wish we had been friends. But, in her passing even I gained from the light that shone through her life, illness and passing.
I walked away deeply moved, spiritually inspired and emotionally encouraged that making the one thing – the one thing is the only way to live without regret.