Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Cloud of Witnesses Just Got a Little Bigger

Kay died at 2:30 this morning. She had been in the hospital this time a little over a week, and suddenly started to decline on Sunday.

Kay was a member of my Al-Anon group. From my first meetings, I noticed Kay because she was always knitting or crocheting something: a scarf, or a blanket for a grandchild. When I was pregnant she made John a tiny cap, white with blue hearts.

"Like Dorcas," Michael said.

Kay was diagnosed with lung cancer a few months ago. She underwent radiation and chemotherapy. Always small, she lost weight. She wore cute knitted caps a friend made for her.

Kay handled cancer with dignity and grace, more than I'd ever seen in her before. It sounds like a cliche, but she emanated peace. She didn't complain. She didn't seem worried about death. She trusted God. I was sure that she would not recover simply because it was so clear that God was preparing her for heaven. "To live is Christ, and to die is gain."

Kay told her husband on Sunday that she was ready to die.

Kay's son, his wife (pregnant) and their two sons drove down here from Wisconsin. They left on Sunday and drove straight through.

I visited Kay in the hospital yesterday afternoon. Visitors are not allowed in the ICU between 2 and 4 but the nurse let us in anyway. I knew Kay had lost consciousness, but it was still a shock to see her, lying with her eyes mostly but not completely shut, labored breathing with an oxygen mask over her face. Her glasses were still on her face. Another friend and I each touched her head, short gunmetal gray hair, and prayed for her. I kept stroking her hair and trying to stop. I didn't want it to bother her. I thanked God for his faithfulness to Kay and prayed that she would soon enter his Kingdom.

"I think she could hear us," my friend said.

In one of my seminary classes, our professor encouraged us to pray that we will end our lives strong. Many Christian leaders haven't, he said.

Kay did.

I am sorry now that I didn't take more time to talk to Kay about what God was doing in her these last few months. And now she's gone.

But I know that she and Dorcas and God only knows who else are now fully alive for the first time and cheering on the rest of us.

Thank you, Lord, for the life of Kay. Please comfort her family.