..through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For Thou art with me.
This past week we had the privilege of walking with a dear friend through this valley as she said her final goodbyes to her husband. He died peacefully with her by his side at the young age of 59. He had only been sick for three weeks!
There was another time years ago when Tom and I were called to our next-door neighbors house. She and her husband were like family to us. They loved us and our children and entered into our joy with every stage of parenting we faced. They were not only mentors, but dear friends. Mr. S. had been very sick for over a year. Mrs. S. had lovingly cared for him every moment of every day and always with a smile on her face. She loved him dearly.
One afternoon the phone rang. It was Mrs. S. crying asking if we could come over. I was grateful Tom had just come home from work, so we ran over together. Mr. S. had passed away only moments before, and she wanted us – she needed us – to be there for help and support. We waited until the funeral home director arrived. Tom walked with her into the bedroom so she could say goodbye before he was taken away. It was the hardest thing I had ever faced in my twenty-something years. Yet I wouldn’t have been anywhere else.
Mrs. S. taught me how to garden, how to clean, how to care for my home and family, but on this day she taught me how to let go. It was his moment to leave this earth for Heaven, and we were invited to have a front row seat.
This past Tuesday night as we witnessed another friend say goodbye to her husband, she told the story of how he loved to buy her gifts. The last one he had delivered to her office was two small bamboo shoots that intertwined at the top to make a heart.
“this is how my heart feels tonight – like half of it has died.”
From there she moved to the piano to play her husband’s favorite song as a tribute to their life and love. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. I know her husband would have been undone by the kind words spoken and memories shared. He will be missed.
With these two women I saw incredible grace for the moment. They were walking through the valley of death, but they weren’t afraid! God was right there with them helping them, supporting them and giving them strength to go on. Each of us will face this valley at some point, and I was freshly reminded this week what a privilege it is to be there for your spouse all the way to the end of this life!
This produces a fragrant aroma that glorifies God – “til death do us part!”
[photo credit: Rene Mansi, iStockphoto.com, & http://www.melanienayer.com]