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Yesterday a 40 year-old wife and mom from our congregation died. She had suffered from cancer for just over a year. It started with a mole in the small of her back that her husband saw one evening. Though discovered early, that made no difference to the raging cancer that devoured multiple organs.

Claudette never caught a break in the year of suffering. She was honest, angry about her cancer, hated leaving her husband and children. The really odd thing is that she re-discovered that Jesus had found her, though she thought she had lost Jesus and for a long time didn't care all that much.

The evening and afternoon before she died, Claudette and her best friends went to “Margaritaville” in Niagara Falls for a hoot. She got “home” to hospice; she phoned her husband, mom, friends. That was Claudette—living hopefully, fully, even though she knew she was dying. As she was phoning, she leaned over, and felt and heard something go “POP” inside her. She told her friends it started to hurt immediately. By 8 AM the next morning she was in a coma, having greeted her husband at 7:30 with her last words—a whisper.

At 2:15 PM she saw the Lord who had found her, led her through her whole life, especially the last terrible, frightfully, mysteriously enlightening year--even though she didn't know God was leading her for a while. Her children, husband, family, friends, sister cried. Her daughter Chloe cried to me as she held her aunt’s hand, “Mommy just passed.”

Yes, she “passed” indeed. For years Claudette worried about not being good enough to “pass.” So she tried so hard at so much. She wasn’t sure she wanted children because she wasn’t’ sure she’d be a good mom. She wasn’t sure she’d be a good dental assistant, or a passable wedding photographer. Only Claudette wasn’t sure of those things—for years. Until in the last year she heard whispers of whom Jesus had made her without her realizing it.

Recently, Claudette told me that about a year and a half ago she felt she was out of control, trying so hard to be the best wife, mom, dental assistant, wedding photographer. She prayed she could learn to “slow down.” “Boy, did I ever slow down. Cancer kind of makes you do that, you know….”

I shuddered when I heard that. I still shiver at the thought. Is Claudette maybe on target? Does God speak to her/us like that. That’s one whopper of a thorn-in-the-flesh.

But what a lovely woman—lovelier still even now, after a short, hard walk through sanctification by Grace. Sadly, though her kids, husband, family and friends can’t see that right now. I believe that, but I can’t see that very clearly either. It’s hard to do that with a lump in the throat and fogged up eyes.


Jim, thanks.
This is a moving and deeply touching narrative. I re-live my daughter's death from leukemia in November at 38 years old. It hurts so much, but God is so faithful.
I remember once years ago in a fiercely intense prayer time, asking God about the fact that my life seemed so very comfortable, and wondering if I was willing, and praying to be willing, to accept whatever experiences I would have as opportunities to grow in faith.
Could it be, do you think, that that prayer and Sarah's death were connected? Some days I shudder to think so. Other days I'd say Yes clearly there's a connection. Surely her 21 months of living with cancer turned out to be a powerful testimony of her peaceful trust, and what a gift THAT was! It was a time for us to learn deeper trust too. To regain perspective. To slow down, to get into the Spirit's flow in our life, to re-experience in fresh ways God's fierce and tender love and grace and forgiveness and acceptance. How unnatural and difficult it is to live that faithfully every day. And how wonderfully graceful. Thanks again for sharing this, Jim!

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