Today’s guest post is by former EPM staff member Shauna Hernandez. I so appreciate the thoughts she shares about saying goodbye just a few weeks ago to Karen Coleman, our beloved coworker and friend. —Randy Alcorn
Recently, I was preparing to visit my friend and coworker, Karen, who was dying of cancer, and I was a bundle of nerves. This was my third significant loss in the past year and a half and I wasn’t sure I could actually go through with seeing her. My soul was tired. My emotions were wrecked. But my God was, and is, faithful.
For days, I was stressing about this visit to Karen. My mom passed away a year and a half ago and this would be the first time since her passing that I visited someone this close to death. I shared my fears with my husband and decided to go ahead and see her. I wanted to say goodbye for now and also, though it may have been selfish, I thought it would help in my personal grieving process. I asked another coworker if we could go together as I surely couldn’t do it alone. We decided we’d go on Friday, and so for the next several days, my mind was filled with this visit.
As I was preparing that week to see her, the question “But what do I bring her?” crossed my mind. Flowers? Chocolate? A fluffy stuffed animal? Certainly none of these things are bad, but they all seemed SO insignificant for the visit. None of them seemed to hit the mark for the extraordinary lady I was about to say goodbye to.
So empty handed, I entered her room that day. She was awake and quietly laying on her hospice bed in a bright, sun-filled room with huge windows that looked out on the yard filled with green grass and big trees. What a room of peace! My time with her was short and simple. I gave her hand a squeeze and told her I loved her. She returned the words to me and asked me to pass along her hello to my husband (what a thoughtful lady!).
About five minutes later, our sweet time was over. I was filled with thankfulness—I was thankful the Lord gave me the courage to see Karen that day. Thankful that I had the gift of living life with her for a few years. Thankful that Jesus defeated death and this truly isn’t the last time I’ll see her or other people I’ve lost. Thankful for the dear people taking care of my friend. Thankful I ended up just bringing myself and not a little “trinket” that to me would have been only a formality. Karen passed away less than two days later, and I was so thankful God gave me those precious five minutes.
So, for me, I didn’t need to bring a “thing” for Karen, for she was going to a place where she wouldn’t need it anyway!
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Karen is now enjoying the presence of her Lord, whom she served so faithfully.
You lived life well, dear sister. I’ll see you again and can’t wait until that day!
Shauna Hernandez previously worked as the Marketing and Communications Specialist at EPM.