If there’s such a thing as a “perfect day for a funeral,” Tuesday was it. Bright blue sky. Temperature warming. The certainty of Spring evident in the daffodils, the bright green grass, the trees beginning to flower. An absolutely glorious day. So glorious that it seemed to provide a foretaste of Heaven.
The funeral was in a small town in North Georgia, and the destination afforded me time to roll down my windows and savor the beauty of the day as I drove the winding country roads. Time to reflect and to pray. Time to marvel at the incredible honor God had just entrusted to me.
Just two short weeks before, I had been at the bedside of the now deceased, asking her to tell me about the people she loved the most. I had gone to the hospice facility to help this precious woman write letters to her family members. To leave nothing unsaid.
A counselor once told me that “God wastes nothing.” I’ve seen the truth of that statement, time and time again. In my own life, one of the benefits of being with my own husband, father and mother as they drew their last breaths on earth is that I have become comfortable around the dying. For me, it’s like “standing on holy ground.”
I visited with this dear woman over two days, talking with her about her family. We talked about eight different people, including her pastor. I asked her to tell me, one by one, the things she loved about each person. Her eyes would twinkle as she described attributes that she loved and valued about each special person. I asked her what she wanted each one to “always remember.”
Then, I carefully drafted letters, compiling what she had said about each person. I read her the letters, paragraph by paragraph, making sure that they completely reflected her heart toward the recipient. After being assured a letter was “just right,” I had her sign each letter by hand. I then sealed each letter in it’s own envelope, and gave them to her son-in-law for safekeeping.
When I left her hospice room that Friday afternoon, I had such joy, knowing that the people who loved her the most would have something tangible to cling to in the difficult days to come. A remembrance of how much she loved them. Written affirmation of the things that she cherished about each one.
After the funeral, when I saw the gratitude on her daughter’s tear-stained face for having that letter from her mother, all I could say was “thank you, Lord. Thank you for allowing me to use my simple gifts to bless this dear family.”
Not all of us have the “gift of a long good-bye” that hospice provides. Our days are numbered…and only the Lord knows the count. Please don’t assume you will have time at the end of your life to leave nothing unsaid. I am asking…actually, begging…you to take the time while you are in good health to write letters to the people that matter most.
It’s a priceless gift.
If you’ve been the recipient of a letter like this, would you share what it’s meant to you?