We've been good friends with Russ and Judy for over 40 years. Our children used to play together as young children, and their oldest child, Jennifer was such a beautiful, gifted and precious Christian woman. Sadly Jennifer passed away after a long battle with cancer about 4 years ago...just about a year after our middle son Matthew had also passed away from cancer. Jennifer left behind a lovely family with two beautiful young daughters and a loving husband. Our son also left behind a wonderful son and loving wife. So our families had the grief of losing a beloved child in common, and we two mothers often shared our deepest thoughts with each other of what it felt like to lose a child. It is a kind of bond that no mother ever wants to have to develop.
Sometime after Thanksgiving of this past year we received a message from their son that Judy had suffered a mild stroke following some kind of ordinary procedure that should not have had any such risks. She was in the hospital, having difficulty with her speech and right hand. But her prognosis seemed hopeful at the time. However, as the days and weeks went on apparently she wasn't progressing as expected, and was not able to eat. A temporary feeding tube was installed, and they were still hopeful she would be going home soon. Her son gave up his job to be there to help take care of her. But apparently Judy wasn't getting better, and today Jesus called her home. Her son sent us the heartbreaking message that she had "peacefully left this earth to be with my sister in heaven....She is no longer in pain and no longer suffering. We are relieved that she can finally rest now."
I really am at a loss as to what to say and how to feel. The last I heard she was going home. And indeed, she has "gone home"...to her heavenly home where she will never weep again...and I can only imagine the joyous reunion she is having with her beautiful daughter and with the Lord right now. But in some ways I am very sad, and in other ways I am so happy for her...and maybe a little envious. My heart breaks for her husband and son and granddaughters and other loved ones who are also in shock and missing her now.
Maybe I wouldn't be so sad if it hadn't been for the fact that in the past several months I have now had my oldest brother Russell (not the same Russ as seen above) and three very dear "girl" friends leave this earth for heaven. Two of my friends were both named Sharon, and now Judy. These are the special kind of friends whom you know you can trust with your deepest hurts and secrets and know that they would love you no less and would guard and protect you no matter what others may whisper behind your back. And they would never be the ones to whisper. Women of wisdom and deep character and devotion to the Lord. These kinds of friends are very hard to find, and then to see them leave this earth all within a few months of each other...each one with their own difficult physical issues and heartaches...and yet they left this earth ready to meet Jesus with no fear. None of these women knew each other here on earth, coming from different parts of the country and from different time frames in my life so that they never had the opportunity to meet...(I take that back...one of my "Sharon's" was also at my son's wedding at the same time as Judy...but I don't know if they got to meet each other). Perhaps they will all find each other now in heaven and get acquainted. I know they would love each other as I loved each one of them so very much.
I recently sent Judy a card and a little note with some words of encouragement and prayers for her healing and comfort. I don't know if she was even able to read it but now I pray that her husband and son will read the verses that the Lord led me to share. Perhaps this was for them after all: