When the End Comes
We made one last visit to UT Southwest Medical Center in Dallas, Texas the first of September, 2021. The actual date is immaterial, but the cold hard fact is simple, there would be no other. Patti was dying from Non-Hodgkin’s Disease having been diagnosed in June, 2017. However, this was but a continuation of the leukemia diagnosed in 2014. She was sick for two years before the diagnosis came. Her long-term nearly 9-year battle was quickly coming to the feared end that was now in sight. The oncologist would now suggest palliative care and hospice for there were no more chemotherapy options, and there would be no more radiation treatment, “We have no answers for your condition.”
A few days later Patti turned to me and said, “I am not giving up, but I am submitting to the truth that is facing me. I will call UT and tell them I will not take the remainder of the drugs, but I will call a hospice provider.”
By now we were at the end of September. Hospice came with all their hospital tools for us to use during the final days of her life. Those end days were terribly difficult as the brutal onslaught of the disease ran its course. The pain was unbearable even with the morphine and other cocktails that she called for ‘as needed.’
Family surrounded her, and many friends dropped by for short visits. Everyone knew what was taking place. One of the very last things she said to me the day before she died was simple and powerful, “I love you, Bob and I want you to know that I want to live. I want to live for my grandkids. It is time for me to go Home, it is time for me to see Jesus.”
On the afternoon of November 8th the hospice nurse came to check on her patient. I caught her outside the front door and asked, “What are we looking at as you see Patti now?” She replied with tears in her eyes, “Mr. Williford, her time is very, very short. I do not think she will live past tomorrow afternoon.” She left and in less than two hours Patti did, too.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 HCSB.
Grief is a strange thing. As a pastor and missionary for more than 50 years I was an observer and sometimes participant of grief in many ways. Death is not the only reason we humans grieve and I will not attempt to make a list for there are too many items to cite. However, what I know now is that the death of one’s husband or wife may be the most difficult event of all.
There is no end for the grief journey and the grip it has is very, very powerful. There is hope, however. God has given us solutions and everyone who passes through the veil of losing a spouse to the Father in Heaven will understand the Comforter is, indeed, present. Because those of us who are eternally saved by grace through faith will understand what Jesus told His disciples soon before His crucifixion, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” John 14:16-20.
The Helper by the Name of Holy Spirit is present in the body of every Christian, every committed Follower of Jesus Christ. I am where I am today because of His presence in my life, in my body and my praise and honor to Him are unceasing.
On June 18th I married a beautiful Christian woman. She is Sharon, a lady I knew as a 7th grader in Lubbock, Texas. This is a long story and I will not repeat it here. We are survivors of a common trail of tears and grief, and God brought us together for His comforting purposes about which we continue to discover. Sharon was married to Greg Deering for 47 years and I was married to Patti for 50. Someone asked me, “How long have you been married?” I paused and replied, “97 years.”
Jesus is Lord.