Just days before Thanksgiving Robyn and I received we knew would come one day but truly did not expect on this day. Robyn was home loading the car for our Thanksgiving pilgrimage to Tyler to see her mom when her brother called me at work. I could tell by the sound of his voice the news was not good news. In simple terms he shared with me that Robyn’s mother had gone to be with the Lord in her sleep.
Stunned and saddened would be good words to describe my initial thoughts, then immediately my mind raced to how in the world was I going to tell Robyn, especially as she was loading the car to go home to see her mother for the holidays. Even though I had been a pastor for nearly three decades I was not prepared to utter the words that would break Robyn’s heart.
The ride home seemed to take longer than normal. My mind was racing. I went through scenario and scenario of how I was going to break the sad news. When I arrived home, Robyn and Madison were frantically packing the car and excited.
I told Robyn I need to speak to her and her eyes got real big and she stepped back knowing instinctively that I was the bearer of bad news. With terror in her eyes she asked about the girls…Kalie, Lorin and Jamie. I assured her the girls were fine, and then said lets go inside and talk. She could not wait so I shared with her that her mom had died. At first she could not believe her ears then as tears welled up she asked how. I explained all I knew, but my words seems so inadequate.
Robyn’s mom Kathy Crane was 87 years old. The last four years of her life had been good but lonely in an assisted living home. Four years ago we buried Robyn’s dad, and with him much of her mother’s life. The last few months her health had declined to where she was practically bed fast, and limited to a wheelchair was not the kind of life anyone would long for especially someone who loved to square dance and travel.
A few days later we had made our trip to Tyler and I stood over Kathy’s grave in Payne Springs. We had a small graveside service for Robyn’s mom since most of her friends were in the welcome party in heaven. We celebrated a life well lived full of the twists and turns of life.
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”–Jesus (John 11:25 NIV)
Death is far from a friend but death in the hands of our Lord loses its sting. As much as we are going to miss her, we are deeply thankful her journey is over and she is home. As we gather for Christmas in a few days, we will gather with an empty space in our hearts, but we will celebrate the fact that Kathy will be spending her first Christmas in heaven!
Over the last few days, the taste of death has been bitter sweet on my tongue. My heart longs for the loss but celebrates the hope found only in Jesus. Christmas will shine brighter in many ways because I am so thankful Jesus is Immanuel –“God with us.”