“Where would we be if you two didn’t connect last year?”
(words spoken to me in a hospital emergency room this morning, re: my connection with her husband, by a woman who is dying of cancer)
I asked myself the same question two days ago; after praying with them in their Glenbrook living room, opening my tear filled eyes to see the two of them holding hands, weeping.
They don’t go to church. But God comes to them.
It was probably 18 months ago when I first met Ray. I was taking macro photos of tree buds in his neighbor’s front yard and he thought I was some kind of creep. “I’m taking pictures for a sermon this weekend”, I said. He laughed and I quickly moved on.
Several months later he called out to me as I walked by his house, and told me about his wife’s cancer diagnosis. “If you could pray…”
A month or so after that I saw his wife tending her front garden and introduced myself. We talked a bit about her upcoming radiation treatments. And about church. She’d gone once, with her sister when they were 7 and 8. The Sunday school kids laughed at them because they didn’t know the bible. “Never been back since.”
A few months later, both she and her husband were sitting on their front patio. I walked up and asked how things were. “Not good.” So I sat down for a few minutes to talk. Before leaving I asked if I could say a prayer. “Yes… please.”
Three months ago, it was just Ray sitting on their patio. She was in the hospital.
“Could you keep her in your prayers?”
“I am… I pray for you two every time I walk by your house, five times a week.”
Three weeks later I learned that the cancer was terminal. We met and talked and prayed some more. Big hugs to end that visit. “I don’t trust people”, he said. “But I trust you”.
This Wednesday night I opened our church leadership team meeting by telling the story of my providential connection with this couple. “Who would be there if I wasn’t?” Driving home from that meeting I saw an ambulance parked in front of Ray’s house, lights flashing. “They’re taking her to the hospital… she’s in so much pain”. As the EMS workers were helping her to the ambulance, she stopped and gave me a 10 second hug.
Seeing her this morning I could tell by the color of her skin that death was near. I asked if it would be okay if I read something from the bible. “Yes… please do.” I read Psalm 23.
“That’s a good one,” the woman whispered.
Then we prayed – she, her husband, their daughter and I. After the prayer they asked if I could formally marry them, tomorrow morning, in that hospital room. They’ve been living common-law for 28 years, and wanted to “make it right”. They’re daughter then jumped in and said that she wanted to push her wedding date up to tomorrow morning as well.
So… tomorrow morning I’m doing two weddings in the emergency room of the Rockyview hospital… and then, soon after I’m thinking, I’ll be doing a funeral.