It is 2:41 a.m. and I am awake – possibly because I’m on steroids for a ferocious cough . . . possibly because I drank too much caffeine today . . . possibly because I’m grieving the loss of my sweet friend/cousin Nancy who died earlier today. Whatever the reason, as I was coming back to bed, God whispered, “write it down, Lisa. Write it down.” So I’m propped up in bed on a bunch of pillows (which is probably good for the cough) with the laptop on my knees . . .typing. . . and listening to myself wheeze.
I know that Nancy is with Jesus. I have no doubt of that fact. Nancy lived a good life. She was kind. She was good. She knew Jesus. She taught Vacation Bible School. She taught a young adult Sunday school class. She was a wonderful mother to three beautiful daughters. She was a faithful wife. Nancy was my friend and Mark’s cousin . . . more like a sibling . . . .and oh my goodness, she may be with Jesus but we are still here on earth and we are going to miss her so very much.
My “writing fingers” have been silent for about two months. I couldn’t sit down and type about mundane things when a life and death battle was going on. I wanted to write about our family playing croquet on Christmas day . . . and I may write that post yet . . .but I wanted to pour out my heart about this and was not at liberty to do so yet. . . so my fingers were silent.
According to the scripture (and according to Andy Stanley), God promises us grace and mercy to endure every situation . . .to get us through every tough thing. He doesn’t promise to physically heal everyone. He doesn’t promise to answer all our prayers the way we want him to do but he does promise grace and mercy. Mark has been praying every night for grace and mercy for Nancy since we found out that she was approaching the end of her earthly time. God did indeed give her grace and mercy. He gave her so much more than we could have imagined.
Nancy went home from the hospital for a couple of weeks . . .because she wanted to walk out the door of her home for the last time . . .grace and mercy. Friends and family were invited to come one (or two – if a couple) at a time to visit with her. We were spaced out so that she didn’t tire too much but we were all granted a few precious moments with our very special Nancy. She talked with everyone . . . grace and mercy. When Mark and I went, Mark pulled a chair from the adjoining room . . .right up next to Nancy . . . and held her hand the whole time. Grace and Mercy. We laughed and talked and reminisced about a lifetime of shared activities for Mark and Nancy and of course, Mark made her laugh. Grace and mercy. Mark didn’t cry. Grace and mercy. I cried all the way home. Grace and mercy.
Five days later, I went back to see Nancy to deliver a photo book I had ordered. The pictures were from her surprise birthday party thrown by her Sunday school class back during the fall. I am sooo thankful that Suzan had the wisdom to orchestrate that lovely party. Grace and mercy. Nancy sat and looked at the pictures but I could tell that she was tiring. I could tell that she was slowing down from just five days before. Nancy smiled often during our visit . . .and drank a cherry icee . . .grace and mercy.
Nancy moved to palliative care at UAB on Valentine’s night. That was just a few short days ago. She walked out of her house for the last time. Mark’s momma went and sat with Aunt Mary (Nancy’s 90 year old mama) yesterday and today (actually, it is already a new day . . .so I should say on Monday and Tuesday afternoon). She was privy to some of Nancy’s last stories . . . and Nancy lived with God’s grace and mercy right up until she met Jesus. She even orchestrated her family’s Sunday dinner - from her hospital bed – and they all gathered for one last Sunday dinner. Makes me not want to miss a single Sunday lunch at Mark’s momma’s house from now on. They might be numbered.
Nancy lived her life with grace and mercy. . .not just at the end of her life . . .but all of her life. God is good. All the time, God is good. Even when we earthly beings are sad and grieving, God is good. God wins. He is victorious over life AND DEATH.
The next few days will be difficult. We are a part of a large family and we are all grieving. Nathan and the girls and her sisters and her brother and her mother . . . are all grieving. But already, I feel God’s whisper . . .not quite audible in the middle of the night . . .but the whisper is still there . . . .grace and mercy. Grace and mercy for all of us. Grace and mercy. Thanks be to God.
Thank you God for sharing Nancy with me for 32 years. Thank you God that Nancy introduced me to her cousin, Mark. Thank you God for her friendship. Thank you God for her smile. Thank you God for grace and mercy.