Yesterday, I visited my young friend, Kristi, and watched her show tremendous faith and courage in the face of death.
Kristi is the youngest daughter of a gal I worked with 25 years ago. Linda, her mom, and I helped the regional director run and teach DD (Developmentally Disabled) adults. During the years Linda and I worked together, we became good friends and acquainted with each other’s families.
Over the years, I have continued to see Linda and Kristi on and off and have followed them both on Facebook.
Back to the Present
I heard from Kristi about a month ago when she told me of the sudden passing of her mom from cancer. (Her father had already passed several years back). Of course, all kinds of feelings went through my mind and heart during our conversation. But I did my best to show love and concern to her, her older siblings, during what must be a tough time for all of them. Thankfully, she shared the where and when of the funeral so I could attend.
It had been a few years since I had last seen Kristi and longer than that since I had seen her older sister. Both of them, especially Kristin, possessed a calmness and poise that I would not have expected. But the thing that impressed me most was hearing that, like her mom, Kristi was also dealing with cancer in her own body. Here she was, taking care of her sick mom while being sick herself.
Last week, Kristi’s sister contacted me to let me know that Kristi’s condition had worsened, and she was living with her older step-sister where she received hospice care. Not knowing what to expect, I made the 40-mile trip to see her before she passed.
Having seen folks dying from cancer, I was prepared to see her bedridden, possibly limited in her functioning ability.
Boy, was I surprised!
I found her sitting comfortably in a chair, conversing with me like nothing was wrong. The remarkable difference was she shared with me the plans she was making for her funeral. She had already picked out her coffin, her flower arrangements, and her funeral songs. She was even creating a beaded picture that she told me would be displayed at her funeral. I could not believe the calm serenity and courage she was showing, knowing she would soon be dying. She even made jokes about wanting the Rapture to come before cancer took her life! (The family is fundamental Christians).
She also shared the fainting spells and seizures she was experiencing. One spell happened while she was briefly alone in the house. Even though she has fallen to the bathroom floor, she had the wisdom to call her step-sister for help. Then, she followed her directions to get up and move to a safe place until her step-sister could return to her side. The story reminded me of the fall I had taken a week. I certainly understood the fears felt through a potentially serious accident. But she seemed to be calmer about her own fall than I was about mine!
I was so incredibly touched and amazed all at the same time with her calm demeanor and quiet acceptance of the reality of her situation. What a testimony of courage in death!
By the way, Kristi is developmentally disabled. Despite her limitations, she showed me great courage and grace in the face of death. I shall never forget that!!