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A Peaceful Death

Treva, my sister-in-law who recently passed on, confided to me about eighteen months ago, “When we were just married we moved in with your Mom and Dad. Your mother became one of my best friends. I could talk to her about anything, something I was not able to do with my own mother.

“I used to love to go to the field to work with her for I knew we would get to talk. One time when we were in the field, we laughed so hard we peed in our pants.” I can still hear Treva laughing when she told me this.

When I was 13 right after my parents died Harold and Treva made me part of their family.

My brother Tom shared, “When I was 15 and on the Church softball team, they had an evening in which they asked us to come to have our pictures taken. It was the evening that my older brothers Wayne and Harold, Treva’s husband and I were planting tomatoes. Wayne and Harold had just got done telling me that I could not go to get my picture taken with the team because I was needed to help plant the tomatoes.

Just than Treva drove up in a truck and came over to the planter and announced that I was going with her to have my picture taken. I thought to myself that she was in for a surprise after the lecture I just got. But Treva just insisted till, to my surprised my brothers gave in and told me, ‘I guess you can go.’ Treva was more like a big sister than a sister-in-law to me.”

These are some of the many stories we told which the Lord used to draw the family together and bring healing to us as together we mourned the loss of Treva in our lives. I shared this prayer during some of those story-telling times:

Lord Jesus, you told great stories.
They helped people make sense of their lives.
They revealed God in ordinary things.
They encouraged and changed people.

Make us more ready to share our stories.
Give us words where we are tongue-tied.
Confidence to know our stories matter,
Tact to know the right place to tell them.
Also, most importantly, make us ready to listen.*

One of the children said, “You know Harold was always the nurturer in the family, not Treva.” I remember how when I lived with them, Harold would always come around and kiss us good night, not Treva . “One of the children continued, “But I noticed after Harold died Treva began to fill that role, insisting on giving us a hug and often a kiss when she greeted us.”

After one impromptu time of sharing, we sensed we should pray. I said what I have said in Colombia numerous times to start prayer times. “Gandhi said that we should accept people according to the light that God has shown them. Here we are, people from four different churches, and each of us has a little different way to express our prayer. Let us recognize that God is listening to each of us.” After we prayed there were tears in some of our eyes. After this, I shared about Colombia with my slides. We ended with thanks and hugs for each other. We felt God’s presence.

So in Treva’s very last days, when it was obviously a real effort for her to even open her eyes, one way of saying good bye was to tell her, “I am going to kiss you,” and she would pucker up her lips as we would give her a kiss. When we put her six-month-old great granddaughter next to her, she opened her eyes and reached for her.

We hugged each other often between our crying. Through this experience God gave us a healing, peace and joy. We could say that Treva will soon be with Harold, whom she missed dearly. And I could say to others and Treva, “We are in the hands of a loving God and all will be well.” Alleluia!

It sure helps to have a village to raise us up. It makes me very grateful for all the friends that have been the village in my journey all 60 years.

Peace,
Jim

* The Patterns of our Days, Worship in the Celtic Tradition from the Iona Community p.99

Left to Right, Back Row: Jeremy; my brother, Tom; my nephew, Dave, and me.
Left to Right. Front Row: Ruth, Dave's wife; Erika;Vanessa with her son, Jeremy.
Erika and Vanessa are Ruth and Dave's children.
We drew so close in this experience that they say I am now an honorary member of their family.



Pictured here is Treva with all of her children three days before she passed on . Those days of sharing together were precious. This time of being with Treva as she was dying was a very meaningful experience.

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