September 11, 2016 and September 29, 2016 death greeted my family with a kiss of pneumonia. The unexpected loss of goodbye left me on the verge of another story about going home.
September seventh I received a call from my mom about our dear family friend Elizabeth being in the hospital with pneumonia.
“The doctor gave her two-to-three days to live. ” My mom said holding back tears.
My only available responses the entire time were,
“I wish I could be there for her!”
A few days earlier mom told me Elizabeth went into the hospital and said Elizabeth finally agreed to move in with the family. I couldn’t be happier! I worried about Elizabeth living alone for sometime because of her health among other reasons, but Elizabeth wanted to stay independent for as long as possible and for her to finally live with my family I didn’t have to worry about my family driving 40 minutes away if something happened to her.
Two hours before Elizabeth’s death I had been doing homework for my Introduction to Ministry class when God compelled me to call Elizabeth once last time and extend the offer to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. I worried more about Elizabeth’s salvation in those last days of her life than I ever did, but I’m not sure what that says about me as an evangelist. I called and as I heard her voicemail answer I chocked back tears before actually crying moments later. I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t do home work, so I texted my mom and she assured me Elizabeth was in a good place spiritually and pastor Dan Cooley thought so too. Midnight came and my dad called me,
“Elizabeth passed away.”
I briefly grieved and somehow got back to my life as a busy Moody student. I admit, I miss calling Elizabeth every other week seeing how she’s doing for no more than six minutes.
I called mom on Sunday to see how she was doing and she told me Elizabeth died peacefully with no struggle, Elizabeth’s friend Katy got the house and some money, but she left my family her car and some money for my tuition. A week and a half went by, and I settled into my new normal.
I texted my mom on Tuesday to see how my younger sister Emily’s boyfriend Macen was doing. Last I heard he got his Cannabis card to help with pain management caused by bone cancer and he took his GED to graduate high school so he could start his college career.
My mom emailed me back saying Macen wasn’t doing well and he was put on a breathing tube, but the day before Emily saw him and he was doing fine.
September 28 my dad called me at 2:30 in the afternoon,
“Macen died.” He said with tears in his voice. |
“No!” I responded knowing the effect of the loss would hit me later.
“Emily doesn’t know yet.”
“He was supposed to be my son in law! I was waiting for them to get married by a hospital bed and spend their short happy lives together.” My dad said with disappointment in his voice.
Macen was one thing thing that made Emily happy, they were best friends and I couldn’t wait to see them spend the rest of their lives together.
It wasn’t cancer that killed Macen. It was pneumonia.
“He was supposed to be the statistic that lived.” My mom shared as she reminded me it’s okay to be angry.
That’s the thing about cancer: it’s a ghost that lives inside of people and it never fully goes away. You can be in remission for a short time, but then it’s back at it again to haunt you and your loved ones.
Suppressed immune system because of chemo and pneumonia killed Macen. I’m not sure which one I want to curse more…
Knowing I had to go home and I started a GoFundMe page to get there with the help of some friends. Macen would not have wanted me to take off school for his memorial service and Emily was okay with me not being there too. Mom told me not to be angry if I didn’t make it home as she called me Eeyore. I had to be the big sister I needed to be and it wasn’t just the thought that counted to me.
I couldn’t just sit there, I already had three other people close to me die and I couldn’t be there for their funeral. My mind was rushing a mile a minute and I needed closure for once. I knew I had to go home. Wednesday I was depressed and unmotivated to do anything.
Go to class, not going. Doing homework? Not getting done. Adventure Club? I want to go, but no motivation either.
“After I get back we’re going to go to Hannah’s house, dance and be happy, and do homework, okay?” My housemate Mary said trying to be positive.
“Okay.” I said as I sat unmotivated watching videos on YouTube.
“God, if you want me to go back to New Mexico, give me the money by tomorrow afternoon.”
I put a deadline on God because that was the little scrap of faith I had left to give it up or get up and go.
I was trying to raise $950 in less than 48 hours.
afternoon I was nodding off in Old Testament Survey for the first hour because I was really exhausted because of grieving Mary said we would check the balance at the break and even when I asked about it apparently there were only small amounts of getting the funds up until that point. Not that Mary would tell me anything anyway.
Checking at break time I made it! $871 dollars plus the $50 someone gave me in cash. Overwhelmed because I was going home I gave my friends huge hugs. I was happy for one of two times that I was going back to Albuquerque. I called my mom on my friend Hannah’s phone because Mary hid mine back at the house, so I wouldn’t be tempted to look. My dad booked my flight, $1500 dollars and only first-class seats available I was going home. I forgot the first week of October was also Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta and that may have explained the expensive price tag. Maybe I should curse that instead.
Life still goes on after death in this life. I still had to go back home to Spokane and test cram for a midterm and drink a Red Bull Italian soda to stay awake, Emily still has to carry on with getting ready to start school, the Holdermans still have to get back to their busy lives and so does my family. Somehow we still have to face that maybe the worst is yet to come during the holidays, but maybe knowing that this won’t stop the rest of our lives, but for now time will fight us to remember our loved ones.
I don’t know why God does what He does in His time and I don’t know why this is the one way God comes chipping away at the stony parts of me.
In spite of Macen’s death I still believe the best is yet to come for Emily and the Holdermans. I see God working in Jack, Clay and Emily’s lives in choosing radically to go to Haiti this next summer. It’s God in the process of breaking our hearts to start again and beat with new life in a candle of hope.
Even for me, God is changing my story. God is changing my story because the one I had before I didn’t want. Before Macen’s memorial service I had other family members die and I was unable to go to their funeral and/or memorial service and is God changing my story.
It’s not over yet, death is not final and God is still writing stories here.