And So She Walks
by Brenda Emmons
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“And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness…But only the redeemed will walk…They will enter Zion singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads” Isaiah 35:8-10.
This is the 5 year and 4 year anniversary weekend of our redeemed, my sister Beth and my dad. They both now walk that highway of Holiness singing in unison with the angels. A while back I wrote a story of their last moments as I imagined them. As a memorial to my loved ones I hope this story will bless you and encourage you as they walked on the highway to Holiness.
“During the last two weeks of Beth’s life, her constant smile was replaced with a distant stare. Previously, she would fight her worn out body by willing herself out of bed, as if showing both cancer and death who was boss. But now, both her mind and body were emptied of any fight and both were surrendered. Our bedside joking and laughing were replaced with silence and subtle acknowledgements. During those silent visits, I remembered previous conversations with Beth which brought tears to my eyes, but a smile to my face. Due to the high dose of pain blocking narcotics, she seemed on any given day to drift between reality and fantasy. One day as we were sitting together in the Hospice House, she patted her bed with her fragile little hand signaling for me to join her. She reached over and grabbed a pad and pen and the fantasy of planning her wedding unfolded. I was painfully aware that even in her deep confusion, the reality of death and her funeral was never far away from her. I so appreciated the grace of God painting this picture with the beautiful colors of a wedding instead of the dark charcoals of a funeral. Her questions warmed my heart as she would record my answers by drawing little bubbles on the page, much like a stenographer would record every important word. I still smile when I consider the questions coming from her place in fantasy met with God’s grace. She asked, ‘Now should we serve hors d’oeuvres in the front of the church? Will there be a celebration afterwards? What kind of music shall we play?’ Many days were spent planning her wedding with questions and answers that never changed, and the same plans ‘bubbled on the pages of her wedding planner.’ Never in a million years could I have predicted that this wedding day would occur on the same day 14 years previously when she gave her heart and life to her husband, Paul. I couldn’t help but wonder what she was experiencing in those quiet, unreachable days when she was finally bed bound and could not walk. Was this in between living holy ground for which no one could enter? I cannot help to feel that as she could no longer walk on earth, she was preparing to walk to heaven. So, in the spirit of all of our planning, our talks and the bubbles on the page, I share my version of her experience in those last days when she couldn’t be reached between death on earth and marriage into eternity.
‘She must be nervous for off in the distance she hears the echo of music playing and soft murmurs of familiar voices. She has considered this walk a million times in her mind, but this time was different…no fear… no anxiety…no turning back. She could finally see what was up ahead of her and it was grander than anything behind her. No turning around this time for she was embracing this wedding day, and would kneel on the altar of eternal commitment – the surrender of total body and spirit to the One who formed and created her 42 years before. She treasures in her heart that for the second time March 14th presents the day she offers her love completely to another whom she adores. She lovingly remembers how her earthly father offered his arm the first time. But, this time it will be her heavenly Father that offers His arm to walk her down the aisle. The Director comes to her and whispers that it is time and she hears the music swell. She nervously steps out into the aisle with a pounding in her heart and a radiance surrounding her. Her radiance is met with the radiance of her Father as He offers His arm to her. How beautiful she looks to Him! She carries a bouquet with the fragrance of her courageous walk during her suffering. She is dressed in a white linen robe instead of sequins and lace. Her hair is held back with ribbons of righteousness as she is being made perfect and pure with every step. Her earthly knowledge is being replaced with pearls of wisdom as everything is becoming more clearly seen in the spiritual realm. Her vision is still slightly blurred by the thin veil of her earthly inhabitation of flesh. How excited she must be at the thought of her veil soon to be lifted by the One whom she loves, as their eyes meet each other’s gaze. She trustingly reaches out her tiny arm and joyfully slides it into her heavenly Father’s arm. The music builds in intensity, the processional begins, and so they walk. The delicate petals of her faith are scattered along the aisle from earth to heaven. The petals are seen from both sides, the view from the earth as petals of inspiration while the view from heaven as petals of fulfilled purposes. As she walks she hears sobs of those she loves who must give away the bride. The further she walks down that divine aisle, the sobs are replaced by the anticipation and joy of her new family as they welcome her into their eternal family…familiar faces...smiles that warmed her down on earth. While her heart is burdened for the temporary separation of her earthly family, her new wisdom reminds her that one by one they will join her someday…And so she walks…
A little while later as Beth was tending to her heavenly Kingdom work, in the distance was singing that beckoned her attention. Music was a constant in heaven, either in praising God or celebrations of people coming home. But this celebration seemed different to her…more personal…more familiar. The words drifted into her heart and spirit drawing her to that particular celebration, familiar voices, and those wonderful lyrics. Someone special is coming home she thinks to herself. She moves closer to the crowd and positions herself among her heavenly family who has gathered together for the entrance of another family member. She steps on her tip-toes to see who is coming home as the words of the song resonate in the deepest part of her soul. She turns and sees who steps out onto the heavenly aisle…she recognizes him and smiles that million dollar smile as her earthly daddy walks towards her. She knows the others will follow in God’s perfect plan and timing. She joins him with joy and is reminded that there is no need to worry or fret for all is perfect in eternity.’
“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” Psalm 139:16.
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