Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Softly and Tenderly

"Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me. See on the portals He's waiting and watching, watching for you and for me. Come home, come home, you who are weary come home. Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling, calling oh sinner, come home."

I was thinking of this song and writing this blog entry in my head last night after we put Samantha to bed. I was going to write it this morning, talking about how gentle and tender Mark is with Sheryl and how Jesus will be calling Sheryl home very soon. When I got up this morning, I found out that at the very time I was thinking of this song, Jesus was in fact, calling Sheryl home.

I was able to visit with Sheryl on Saturday afternoon. She was very tired from a day of nearly endless visitors, but she was so glad to see everyone. It was a good day. She was still quite worn out on Sunday, but was doing pretty well, still talking to her visitors and remaining awake most of the day. On Sunday, it was decided that visiotrs should come in the morning mostly, which was her most energetic time, so she could rest in the afternoon.

On Monday I had the day off work for my last day of vacation. I always plan an extra day off so that I can catch up on things and rest a bit before going back to work. I am so grateful for that planning, especially now! I dropped Samantha off at the babysitter and went to the grocery store for a few things, including a meal for Mark for that night.

I called Mark as I was leaving the house and he told me that Sheryl had not woken up yet and the ministers were on their way over. He said that it would not be a good time for visitors. He said that the end was near. I told him that I would just drop off the food and then leave, but when I arrived, Robert Stolte was with them, and there was no one else at the house. I offered to stay to answer the phone and the door so that Mark could stay with Sheryl and Robert, and he accepted that offer. Gordon arrived not too long after that and then Lezley came in. Just as Lezley arrived, Sheryl woke up.

Gordon asked to pray over her and Sheryl agreed by saying "Absolutely." Jennifer Kimball also came and together with Robert, we tried to get the flat fixed on Mark's truck, but found that the battery was dead. Robert went home to change clothes and then came back and took care of the battery. He worked hard out in the heat to take care of the things that needed to be done. It was wonderful to see him and all the other poeple who came and served as the hands and feet of Jesus throughout the day.

We made lunch and made muffins for breakfast the next morning. We sat with Sheryl and spoke to Mark about how they met and many other things. Melinda Leverette came and read scripture over Sheryl while Mark took a short nap. Susan Griffith and Deborah Green also came and sat with her. Sheryl woke up a few times through the day for a few minutes each time. She knew who each person was but she was not making much sense other than speaking our names. She always responded to Mark even when her eyes were not open and she wasn't saying anything. It was obvious throughout the day that his touch and his voice made a difference to her.

It was such a privilege to see this man take such sweet, gentle, tender care of his wife. The love between them was so obvious that it would bring tears to your eyes. Susan said that this is really what "in sickness and health, til death do us part" is all about, and that Mark shows such strength in that committment. She was absolutely right. I don't think that when we speak them, any of us really think about what those words will mean in the end, but it was brought home to me in the last few days. I hope and pray that I will never be faced with a situation similar to Mark and Sheryl's. But if I am, I hope that I will be able to use Mark's example in living my life with compassion, love and strength.

I was blessed to be with them for the entire day. I am so glad that I had the day off work and that I was able to take Samantha to the babysitter that morning. Even though Sheryl was not able to talk to me, I am glad to have had the day to sit with her, to keep watch over her while she slept, and to be able to do small things to help her husband.

I never imagined that I would be keeping watch over a dying friend, so I never imagined what it would be like. I was surprised by my feelings and by the day, though. We cried, as I expected. But we also laughed and had peaceful quiet times. I was afraid to be there before I went, but I left being grateful for having the opportunity and blessing to be there all day.

I never did ask Sheryl to love on my babies in heaven, but while Mark and I were sitting alone with Sheryl in the evening, I told him that I have 19 babies in heaven that Sheryl will need to love on for me til I get there. He said that she will love that.

Before I left for the evening, I leaned over and gave Sheryl a kiss, whispered that I love her and I will see her again someday. I hadn't planned that, I was planning to come back the next evening, I didn't think there was a reason to say goodbye quite yet. But apparently God took care of me and and nudged me to do so. I am thankful.

I had to work yesterday, but I called Mark when I got home. He said that there had not really been any change during the day. Sheryl was not responding and her pulse was not good. He said that she did wake up and repsond that morning when Gordon was there having a prayer service and annointing her with oil. That was the last time she responded to anything. He told me that Lezley was going to heat up food for dinner, so they were taken care of for the evening. I told him that I would call again tomorrow after work.

This morning when I checked my e-mail, Lezley had written that at 7:20 last night Sheryl's breathing had changed and by 7:30 she was gone. Jesus was calling her home while He gave me thoughts of His calling her.

I still find it hard to believe. Sheryl was so dynamic and loving, vibrant and alive. It is hard to imagine this world without her. She touched so many people with her love and sweet spirit. She will be missed. She will never be forgotten.

We all love you, Sheryl. I look forward to our reunion in heaven.


PM said...

Christy, thank you so very much for sharing your beautiful words and thoughts. I did not know her, but feel I have missed knowing someone very special. May the Lord bless you and all the friends that were there to care and share. Love, Pam