We had just finished a great evening with friends. Settled in bed, I heard the familiar sound of a Whatts App message. I debated whether to get up or not to see who it was, but I’m thankful I did:
“Joy is in heaven.”
Across the ocean, my dear friend, Joy’s mother, shares the news the only way she knows how. Joy, so appropriately named, was diagnosed with leukemia a few days after we left for South Africa. She was five months old when her family received the news.
For two and a half years we have prayed and electronically encouraged the best we could through chemo treatments, a bone marrow transplant (bone marrow which was given by her 4 year old sister) and many other complications through it all.
Technology can never replace true contact.
In August 2013 my husband and I went to the states on furlough. Joy had been leukemia free. We thought we would only get to see her once or twice but the Lord blessed us with more visits than we ever thought and with some wonderful times with her, her siblings and parents.
We returned to South Africa only to learn in December that the leukemia had shown its ugly head again and another complication was spreading through her little almost 3 year old body. The doctors had given her 1-2 months to live.
Again more praying:
Lord, keep her GVHD at bay.
Lord, let them have a blessed Christmas together.
Lord, help Joy’s breathing.
Lord, please let them be able to go to Disneyworld as they have planned.
“Joy is in heaven.”
I wasn’t prepared for this New Year’s Day announcement.
Lord, seriously, New Year’s Day? Couldn’t you have picked another day?
Lord, they didn’t make it to Disneyworld. Couldn’t you have at least granted them that time together?
Then He reminded me of the sweetest time He allowed us to have with them while on furlough laughing, crying and sharing. Though much had happened in two years for each of our families, it was if we had never been apart. True friendship is like that.
He reminded me of the scripture verse Joy’s mom and I share on our walls:
“We walk by faith and not by sight.” -2 Cor. 5:17
So at 3AM my time we are texting back and forth. Comforting one another with cell phones in hand.
Through Skype Doug and I “attend” the funeral. I felt under-dressed in my crocs, capris and summer shirt. This was new territory for me. Would it have been more respectful if we had dressed for it even though no one could see us? The connection wasn’t that great but we did manage to hear most of it with tissue in hand sobbing before the screen so we wouldn’t miss a word. Her parents shared their testimony of God’s faithfulness and the blessing of having Joy in their life even if it was for a short time.
The video decided to work as the closed casket was being wheeled out and the family was exiting. We could just make out a beautiful picture of Joy at the front. We pressed closer to the screen as if that would make the portrait bigger. The connection ended but our tears continued.
“…She is not sent away, but only sent before; like unto a star which, going out of sight, does not die and vanish, but shines in another hemisphere.”