My older sister and only sibling, Diane, lost the battle with ovarian cancer July 27th, 2023. My dad and I were both there when her spirit passed from this life to eternal life, and only the shell remained.
I was there. In my head, I know she’s gone. But it’s still hard to wrap my mind around it. Those last few weeks, when they moved her into hospice, we had some good talks. We were able to reconcile in a lot of ways. We had our share of butting heads over the years, as most siblings do. You know those disagreements that can cause tension within the family? I won’t go into all of that right now because that’s not the point of where I’m going with this story today.
No, today, I’ve been considering the lessons in mercy that I have learned from this experience and from losing our 17-year-old son Jacob in a traumatic car accident on August 30th, 2015.
The first lesson in mercy I’ve been contemplating these last few weeks….
As my sister’s condition deteriorated, our sister relationship was not the only one that needed some reconciliation. She also had some special moments with our father that were much needed.
I think that was the Lord’s mercy in allowing my sister the opportunity to make some things right before she stands before God.
She had the opportunity to examine her own heart, ask for forgiveness from God and people, and express things to me and my dad that desperately needed to be said to bring about healing. It may seem weird to think of that as the first mercy lesson I noticed in in this time of my sister’s approaching death but consider that many do not get that opportunity. Our son Jacob didn’t.
When he woke up that Saturday morning, he did not know that he would be standing before his Maker that night.
Which me leads me to mercy lesson number two…
I pondered how this just might be the Lord’s mercy for my sister to have the knowledge that her life was coming to an end and set things right, even as the reality of her increasing physical pain she was evident. I felt so bad that nothing could be done other than the medical professionals offering her medicine to ease the comfort and provide her with some temporary peace.
And that’s when it struck me that while she experienced one aspect of our Lord’s mercy, our son experienced a different kind of mercy. While Jacob did not wake up that Saturday morning knowing that he would stand before God that night, our Lord knew. He left evidence for us to find that He had been preparing Jacob for months to meet him.
In fact, the poem that we found that Jacob had written called Holding Me clearly shows him wrestling with God, realizing that he is a sinful man, and yet knowing by the end that not only is he forgiven, but that he will one day walk on streets of gold and meet his savior face to face. Jacob signed and dated it February, 2015; just six months before Christ met him on that dark, drizzly roadway.
What a tremendous mercy from our God that He would work on our son’s heart six months before he passed away and make sure that he was ready!
As I saw my sister struggle through the pain, I was reminded of yet another mercy:
I am so grateful that my son did not suffer, but died fairly quickly, if not instantly. If you have ever lost somebody very dear to you very quickly like that, I urge you to stop and consider what a mercy that is. They didn’t suffer in pain and agony as their anxiety climbed knowing the end was near, as my sister did.
Sometimes when we are so focused on the hurt of the grief, we don’t see the Lord’s hand right there.
We don’t see the Comforter.
We don’t see His mercy, His love, His tender hand right there with us, as Jacob said in his poem, “leading us all the way home”.
But friend, if we look for Him, we will find Him.
We will see His mercy even in the hardest parts of our lives.
We will see his faithfulness.
We will see his promises are still true.
He is still faithful. He still promises to work all things for good, for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
So while I don’t claim to understand all the workings of God, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He takes care of His own.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15)
My sister reminded me of that verse after we lost Jacob.
Now, sis, it applies to you. I’m so grateful that in the Lord’s mercy you are right with Him. I believe He helped you. I believe that in His mercy, I will see you again.
So as I said at Mom’s funeral, this isn’t goodbye. This is, “We’ll see you soon, Diane!” The greatest reunion of all time is still to come!
And hey, while you’re waiting for us, go ahead and pick out the best picnic spot you can find because we’re coming, sis!
What about you, friend? have you noticed any “mercies” in times of grief? Comment below or send me an email at email@example.com.
In Loving Memory
Diane Carol Fournier
February 23, 2023 – July 27, 2023