In the summer of 2005, we went on a retreat to Joni and Friends in Pennsylvania. Their theme was John 12:46 (ESV) “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” What we did was celebrate Christmas in August. When we first found out that Christmas was the theme, I cried. It has been very challenging for me to be cheerful with the loss of Cyndy during the Christmas time. I had promised Dr White just a couple days before we went that I would go into the retreat open minded. I would be receptive to what ever came my way.
Promising Dr White that I will knock at the Lord’s door, when the door is open, I would be receptive to what the Lord was trying to teach me. I wanted to be instructable and in tune to God’s voice. I would step out in faith that what ever God sent my way during this week I would learn from it. And give Him thanksgiving.
The week started out well and Joel was giving a friend to go around with him all week long. Steven would work with Joel on learning to eat, went to every event with Joel, and help him out. I remember one of the times when I saw Joel and Steven outside, Joel had reached up for Steven to carry him. Joel, usually will not be cordial to people at first. With his autism, Joel is in his own little world. He rarely lets people into his circle.
Richard was given a friend too. His friend was Kevin. Richard enjoyed Kevin yet also would take advantage of him by wanting Kevin to do everything for him. We found that it was incredibly problematical to constraint, Richard from disconnecting from an outing. This proves to be a crisis later on in the week.
The week was especially pleasurable with seeing that I could be happy at Christmas and learn to look at Christmas in a different light. I have to say that I found myself having an exceptionally delightful time. I learn the genuine meaning of Christmas. Pastor Kirby in his sermons showed me that there is more to Christmas then the commercial implication. I knew the authentic reasoning of Christmas is the birth of our Savior but it had not pictured in my mind yet until I heard Pastor Kirby speak on it during the week.
He showed me that my beliefs to be founded and that I shouldn’t doubt my beliefs. I learned that God was putting those thoughts of His love, there for a reason. Kirby showed me if you were sensitive to God’s direction, He WOULD show His Self to you. For an example, Kirby showed a picture of the rays coming down from the clouds into a river reminding us of His love for us. When life seems to be unbearable, if we put our hand into Christ’s hand we can get through the most excruciating situations in our lives.
I have always loved to look up at the heavens, and seen the rays coming down from the sun. It reminds me of God’s stairway to Heaven. I am always looking after a storm for rainbows. It reminds me of God’s promises to me that He will take care of me. I had a dream one time about after a storm going outside and looking up and there was Christ with His hands stretch out in the clouds saying, “Come unto Me. My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Awesome!
With hearing about Christmas, I felt like Christ was telling me that it was time to move on and not be disheartened, anymore. It meant that I could start living again. Yet, this year thanking Him for all the blessings He gave me with Cyndy. Cyndy would not want me to go now until my life here on earth is done, miserable at the holidays. I needed to remember that she is not sick and that she is with the Lord. Cyndy is enjoying herself. Cyndy is able to do things she never could do here. Praise God!
I would have never dreamed that at the end of the camp, the night before all was to end, would be a night that I could only get through with the help of the Good Lord. We had all the days before and met people that were just like us with children that were handicapped. There were parents there, who had burdens that were heavier, then ours. All week something was making me feel uneasy about Mark Sr. I had thought it was just because of his heart problems that I was apprehensive that something might happen to Mark. I tried to put that notion away and not contemplate that something would happen. The uneasiness stayed with me all week, no matter what I did, to not consider and entertain feelings, of nervousness ended up, to be no prevailing.
Katie and I had been over three buildings down from our building. Mark, Richard, and Joel were getting ready for bed while I was getting my massage. Something made Katie go back to the room to check on her Dad and to let him know where she was. When she opened the door, she let out a scream that made me think that she had walked in finding her Dad having a heart attack.
I could not have believed what was waiting for me in the room upon my arrival. Mark was lying on the floor of the room covered with blood from where Richard had assaulted him. My heart snuck, has if my life was ending. I could not see myself living without my husband. Seeing Mark laying on the floor, he appeared to be dead. Even though I saw him alive, in my mind he could not live the way he looked. My thoughts turn negative toward God. It was as if I had trusted Him and here He is about to take my husband away from me.
Mark was airlifted to a trauma center an hour and half away from the retreat. Though all the negative thoughts, God was still working on me. When I calmed down there was a voice telling me that He has not left me and to trust Him to get me through this ugly nightmare.
When finally doing Christ way, of getting through this crisis, it was largely, less strenuousness on me. A peace beyond understanding came over me. God put different ones with Joni and Friends to help me through the long night and into the next day. These people were very caring and concern and hospitable, to my family. Talking about the God knowing our whereabouts, plus what is going to happen in His timing. He knew where to put different ones at that time of the accident. Three emergency medical people were right around the building when Mark was hurt. They were able to stabilize his condition and get the right help such as the air ambulance to get Mark to the right hospital.
Yet through the whole ordeal, I never felt like I was out of God’s hand. When He got my attention, He held me tight. This was one time that God put me far from my on territory and from my family and friends to have me lean totally on Him and not on my own self. There was a peace when I put my hand into Christ’s hand and trusted Him to carry me through each day of the two weeks Mark was in the hospital. God provided all my needs during that time. I can say that I liked being in His hand. At last, we thought we were out of the eye of the storm, and in the stillness and peacefulness after the storm.
I would have never anticipated; that when we got back home we would come home to Mark’s dad, being sick. About a week after getting home, Dad was admitted to the hospital and found to have cancer. Dad ended up having surgery to remove the cancer yet still ended up being serious. This time ended up being a very frustrating and demanding time for us. I prayed daily for Dad to get well. It seem like Dad was going to get well until he ended up in the ICU unit for a week on the ventilator. The night before his surgery, my brother-in-law went to talk to Dad about if something would happen during surgery or afterwards and God would call him home, would he be ready? Dad declared to Billy, “his faith in Christ was strong and that it was enabling him to perceive the love and sustaining comfort of the Redeemer, who had died so that he might live.” All through his illness Dad remained comforted and at peace with the Lord. We on no account saw him become uneasy and anxious when his trials came about. Dad had the peace that we could not conceive, because of the grace the Lord had given him.
Over the next two and a quarter months, Dad’s life would change for the better before turning for the worst. In that period, I watched Dad put up a fight for his life that reminded me of Cyndy. We never thought it remind us of Cyndy, until things started happening. Cyndy was a fighter and when you thought her life was finish she would put up a fight and pull through crises that you knew only the Lord could pull her through.
Watching Dad fight for his life the week after his surgery when some in the family thought this was the end of Dad would make him fight harder for his life. He was one sick Dad, but was not ready to give up yet. Dad came off the vent after a week in ICU and went to a room, where he was for a couple days before taken a turn for the worst.
Mark and I were going to visit him on a Monday morning and when we were still down the hall a ways from Dad, I heard someone having very hard time breathing. A disturbing feeling came over me. All I could do was pray that the noise was not Dad that I heard. I was moved to prayer when we got past the nurse’s station when one of Dad’s doctors were there and he caught Mark and I and told us that Dad was having problems with his breathing. Our worst nightmare had come true.
Rushing down to Dad’s room, we entered before Dad slipped into unconscious long enough for Dad to grab my hand and not let go. We found out that Dad had gone into septic shock and drowning on his own body fluids. Even with the crises, Dad was not afraid of death. He did not like suffocating, yet if this was the way, the good Lord was calling him home; Dad wanted a hand to hold until he was safefully home.
All I could do was plead with Dad to keep breathing. I was praying at the same time pleading with our Heavenly Father; to please let Dad live. Again, we could see that Dad and Cyndy were kin, with the way they both fought to live. Dad fought for his life and fought hard for the next six weeks of his life. We saw neither of the twowas afraid to go to their Heavenly home if that was God calling them to come unto Him.
At a week before the end of October, we were visiting Dad at the transitional hospital, which he was in for to weaned, off the ventilator. While we were there, his call bell begun buzzing, and would not stop ringing. We kidded Dad about Casper the friendly ghost visiting him. With a serious look on his face, Dad told us that Cyndy was doing that. When we would tease Dad, he would be dead serious about it being Cyndy. We did not think anymore about it until a week later when his life was ending. Did Dad see an angel that looked like our daughter letting him know he would soon be coming home? We are not sure what Dad saw; but it must have been comforting for him, to know that Cyndy was going to possibility escort him home.
Things I had seen when Christian people die, brought back memories of when Cyndy went home. Things would happen such as when my hands begun clapping together and I could not stop them or when, I realize that the grip that was on them was of what Cyndy would do when she would seizure. It was her way of telling us that she was ok. Another time was when we were at the funeral home, after Cyndy died; a teddy bear that had not played for years began to play for no reason at all. Just like the night before Cyndy died, we notice she was listening to the angels singing to her. Just a week before she went, Cyndy took me outside and pointed up to the Heavens like to say she was going there. Cyndy could not speak but she in her way was saying my life here on earth was ending and I am going to be whole in Heaven. She knew she would be able to speak, walk, and run without seizuring anymore.
I had seen with my Grandfather when I was fourteen that just before he entered eternity, he must have seen Christ coming for him. He told my Grandmother to turn off the bright light. The light she had on was the light over the stove in the kitchen and that light was dull. A couple minutes before he died, he told my Dad “The Lord has got me now!” and he was gone.
My Grandmother was one who would when she prayed would get down on her knees to pray. Just before she went, she went to her knees and told my aunt “there was nothing she could do for her.” She had bowed down before her Savior. She loved her Lord.
Two days before Dad died, we notice he was looking up at bright lights and talking to them and pointing to something up in the air. We did not question Dad at the time but later we realize that Dad might have seen Cyndy and his parents but, most of all His Savior. Christ says in John 8:12 (ESV) "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In addition, Rev. 22:5 (ESV) And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Dad, about a minute before his heart stopped opened his eyes with tears in them; looked up and smiled. He was not afraid to die. He knew he was going to be with his Savior. His life here on earth was over. He knew that he was cured of the cancer. Dad was off the vent at last.
Fifteen minutes after Dad had entered eternity I had gone back into the room to tell Dad bye. I had cradled his head in my arms and laid my head on his and was crying when the nurse told me to lay his head down and look at his face. There was a smile on his face where as the upper teeth were showing. I had seen the smile numerous of times over the last couple of weeks of his life. I knew also that Dad had done what I asked of him when I told him he was going to be with His Savior face to face an hour and a half before he died I had told him to give Christ a hug for me along with Cyndy.
The smile that was on Dad’s face helped me to get through the days leading up to his funeral and through his funeral. My heart was broken that Dad was gone but I knew he had asked the dear Lord to give me the graces to get through his funeral. The peace I had, I knew with out a shadow of doubt that my Lord was holding me tight. I could feel the arms of Christ around me. With out His help I would have not made it through the funeral. I knew also that the family was holding me up in prayer because they were worried that I would not do well and would break up Billy Dad’s oldest son who was preaching his funeral.
These end of life experiences; I have seen with our love ones who knew the Lord, have been a testimony to me, and showed me that our God is real. God will show Himself to whom ever He chooses. 1 Cor. 2:9-11 (ESV)
But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"—  these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.  For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also, no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. He has a very tender heart. I also gain the insight of noticing that our Lord gives us every chance before we go to get right with Him. I would have loved to have been there and heard Christ tell Cyndy, Dad, my Granny, and Granddaddy “Well done My good and faithful servant.” “Now come unto Me.” Wow!
Now Dad I want to say one more time to you I am proud to call you my Dad. Thank you for showing me what a loving father is. Thank you for letting me see Christ in you. Your last actions here on earth showed me that you were a child of the Lord’s. Now rest peacefully my sweet Dad and take care of our Cyndy. We shall see you both in Heaven shortly.
This last chapter is in remembrance of my father in-law William Wesley Harrell, Sr. who went to be with the Lord on November 1, 2005. This Christmas even though Dad went to be with the Lord, I know that he would not want me to be sad at the holiday season. I will go into the holiday season this year holding my head up high because I know without a shout of a doubt my Savior lives and that Dad and Cyndy are having the Merriest of Christmas because they are celebrating with the Lord. Jesus is the reason of the season. Life can get better after a death of a love one. When we have Christ in our lives, He will make a road easier when we trust Him. As He says in Matthew 11:25-30 (ESV)
At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;  yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
When life seems to be at our worst, we need to have faith in God to get us through one more day, week, month, and year. With God, we can do any thing.
Mark 11:22-26 (ESV)
And Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."
Now as in Rev. death is no longer a problem when we know Christ as our Savior. Rev. 21:3-4 (ESV)
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
Heaven is said to be a place well sought in Rev. 22:4-7 (ESV)
They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
 And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place. "
 " And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
I really envy Cyndy, Dad, and my Grandparents who have testified to me for they are seeing these things already.
Thank you Lord Jesus, for showing us in Your word what death is like when we are one of your sheep. Thank you for helping us through the death of our love one. Hold us in Your arms always,
All verses are quoted from the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible.
Written by Anne H. Harrell