Joy is my sister and she is dying of cancer. She has lived with cancer for some two and a half years but now has a brain tumour that is inoperable. She has come home to be with her family as she waits to ‘go home’ and be with her Lord. She is one of the most gentle, faithful and gracious people I know.
When we are told that someone we love is terminally ill, thoughts seem to drift to the significant moments of our relationship with them – the times of shared joy and shared pain, the disappointments and the successes, the achingly happy moments as well as the achingly sad.
My happiest moments are the girly chats about our respective lives which would include everything from grumbles about our children and our husbands to giggles about the antics of the various livestock we had as pets - hens, ducks, rabbits, dogs, cats – you name it, between us, we had it.
It was Joy that brought me to faith.
It was Joy who gave me money when I was broke, who gave me tissues when I shed tears, who encouraged me when life was tough, who hugged me when I was lonely.
It was Joy that rejoiced with me when she learnt (3 times!) that she was going to be an Aunty.
It was Joy who danced with me when I was accepted for ordination training.
It was Joy that taught me something of the depth of God’s love for everyone and that where ever love was, then that is where you found God.
The sad moments are those when our relationship was strained…when events of life brought pain and a rift… yet still she reached out, always meeting half way, always offering a way back, always displaying grace in such measure that it was to become my yardstick by which I could begin to understand the measure of God’s love for myself.
And she lies in bed… she tells me that nothing is wasted, even in our brokenness, nothing is wasted and we are to be a blessing to each other…even in this seemingly darkest of times, she lies in bed and once more washes my feet… once more offering me a foretaste of the heavenly banquet waiting for all people…
I held her hand, kissed her forehead fully aware that I was in the presence of God…the pain I feel at moment is deep within my being, both bitter and sweet, sweet and bitter. Bitter because of the loss that is not far away now and yet sweet because of the hope of what is ahead is also not far away now…
Joy to the world, the Lord has come.