The male voice belonged to our nephew, the choked speech from his inner child. His mother, my husband’s sister, lay dying. She’d suffered a heart attack and collapsed. When the paramedics broke down the door, she’d lost consciousness. Now life support stood between her and eternity.
After she’d estranged herself from the family more than fifteen years before, we had little contact—an occasional phone call or a request for money. She’d found drugs, alcohol, and other men a better lifestyle than the wife and mother she’d been. Her adult children abandoned her, raising their children without the influence of a grandmother who’d strayed.
It hurt. My nephew’s sobs testified to that.
In earlier years, we knew she’d heard the gospel message. We’d taken her children to church, she’d counseled with our pastor, and she’d lived where daily chapel services shared the good news. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31) Did she ever accept that message?
Anybody who seeks forgiveness will be given it. John 6:37 says, “All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” Did she have regrets?
Eternal life is for all. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” God still loved her.
Now as we stood by her bed, my husband shared those verses again. Reassured her that heaven was waiting. All she needed to do was say yes.
The nurse affirmed that those in a coma do hear. They’re aware of their surroundings even if they can’t respond. My sister-in-law’s pulse elevated when my husband spoke, her breathing became uneven. As though she were telling us she heard.
She hovered three days after life support was withdrawn. Her son and daughter stayed by her side, the time spent telling their mother they forgave her for what she’d done. Cleansing tears were shed and two broken children were released from the burden they’d carried too long.
We’ll not discover the end of this story until we stand in God’s presence. But we do know this woman had every opportunity to respond to God’s call. That will be our consolation.
It’s never too late to mend a fence or rebuild a bridge. Who is waiting to be forgiven in your life? Don’t put it off.
4 Replies to “Enduring Death’s Sting”
Wow, Pat. What a stirring account of family grief and forgiveness and healing. A reminder to all of us who have unsaved family; we need to keep praying and sharing when God gives the opportunity. Thank you for this poignant lesson.
Thank you. That’s why I wrote it as I did. I know there are many out there who have loved ones for whom they grieve over their eternal destination. Regrets after the fact won’t change eternity.
Pat, I’m so sorry for your family’s hurt. Those are hard times. Your last paragraph was a perfect ending for others. I wish I had that same opportunity with my dad. He died suddenly and by himself.
Only God could have orchestrated the details of my sister-in-law’s last days. Even her daughter thought she would just get a call someday telling her that her mother was dead. But God intervened and changed all the circumstances. He is, after all, the one in charge.