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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Enter (02/27/06)

TITLE: The Night the Angels Sang
By J. Stephen Conn
02/28/06


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When the doctor entered my sister’s hospital room we suddenly knew from the expression on his face that something was terribly wrong. My wife, mother, and brother-in-law, Sarah’s husband, listened in disbelief as he informed us that her cancer was in the last stages. My sister was only 26; she had three adorable children; she was beautiful, bright and talented; and in a few weeks at most, she was going to die.
Sarah was dismissed from the hospital just in time to prepare for a last Christmas with her family. She went to the shop which sold her artwork near her home in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, and bought back enough of her paintings to give one to each member of her family. Contrary to her doctor’s expectations, she stayed strong for the Holidays by sheer grit and determination.
Sarah’s boys, Charles and Mike, were delighted when they found new sleds under our tree on Christmas morning. Her baby daughter, Debbie, loved her new doll. As we sat around the breakfast table on that happy/sad day, Sarah gazed wistfully out the window and said, “This has been the perfect Christmas. The only thing that could make it better is if it would snow.”
As if the heavens were awaiting their cue, the snow began at that precise moment. Six inches blanked the ground by the time the table was set for Christmas dinner.
As the New Year began, Sarah’s condition deteriorated rapidly. By mid-January she was re-admitted to the hospital. I did not know it would be her final evening when I took my turn at staying with her for the night.
Early in the evening Sarah asked if I would sing with her. Over and over throughout the night she would awaken and begin softly singing again a song which had been a favorite of hers since childhood,
Oh love of God, how rich and pure,
How measureless and strong,
It shall forevermore endure
The saints and angel’s song.
Interspersed with her singing, Sarah prayed. There was no petition – just a stream of praise flowed from her lips to the God she loved. Throughout the night nurses would stand silently in the doorway and listen. It was an unusual worship experience. A warm, strangely wonderful presence I had never sensed before seemed to fill the room.
The next day was more of the same. Between short naps Sarah would sing and pray, and at her request, the whole family came over a few at a time, to sing with her.
Late that afternoon, Sarah called her husband down to her bedside and told him of her love. She smiled at me with a mischievous grin that spoke volumes without words. Then her eyes darted around the room and she gasped with excitement, “Listen! The angels are singing.”
I heard nothing, but a chill shot up my spine. Sarah sang a few exuberant notes, then stopped and chided, “Come on; can’t you hear the angels? Let’s sing with them.”
What happened during the next hour was not to be described. I felt as if I had been privileged to hold the hand of one who was already living in the supernatural realm beyond.
I thought the air could not be any more spiritually charged. That was before Sarah squealed, “There He is! There’s Jesus!” I looked in the direction toward which Sarah’s eyes were fixed and saw only an empty corner.
And now Sarah seemed to forget everyone and everything else around her, as she beheld her Lord. She weakly reached her arms upward and cried and laughed at once, “Oh Jesus. I love You, Jesus. I want to be with You, Jesus.”
Something rumbled deep down inside Sarah and she expelled her final breath. Her hand's dropped; her eyes rolled back. All was silent. Sarah had entered her rest.
I leaned my head against the wall and wept uncontrollably. I’m still not sure exactly why.
Sarah always loved the snow, and a fresh blanket covered the ground the day we buried her. As family and friends watched her casket being lowered into an East Tennessee hillside, I sensed that Sarah was standing there beside us, wearing her mischievous grin.


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Member Comments
Member Date
Julia May03/06/06
Thank you for this beautiful story. I had to read through my tears. It was very well written and so real. I felt like I was in the hospital room with you.
Marilyn Schnepp 03/07/06
It's a beautiful story and very well written; but next time, please make double spaces between the paragraphs to make it easier to read. Thank you.
Edy T Johnson 03/07/06
"What happened during the next hour was not to be described." But you did such an exquisite piece of writing that words fail me. The awesome joy and sorrow mix, the perfect title, thank you.
Lynda Schultz 03/09/06
Isn't it odd when you have that sense that the person who has departed is there, looking over your shoulder, enjoying the scene. I commented to my mother on the way to the cemetary at my father's funeral how much he must be enjoying traveling first class in the white cadillac. Very moving and well written.
Caitlynn Lowe03/10/06
Lovely piece, I had goosebumps near the end! :)
Maxx .03/11/06
Wow... very strong ending... how wonderful! What a great testimony. Good work!
Debora Dyess03/11/06
Good work, good testimony. A friend of mine recently went home in a similar fashion. Before she died she commented that if the doctors could cure her but that part of the deal would be losing her testimony to hospital staff she would turn down the cure and chose to influence the staff for Christ. I thought of that as I read about the nurses lingering in the doorway as Sarah worshiped. Strong ending.
Anne Harrell03/12/06
This is just beautiful!! I saw the same thing with my father in-law when he died the first of Nov. It is just awesome to watch someone that knows Christ exit from earth and enter Heaven.
Edy T Johnson 03/13/06
Congratulations on your win! I'm so glad your story received the recognition it so well deserved, tops in my book! Thank you for letting the rest of the world have opportunity to join you at your sister's welcome Home!
Rachel Rudd03/13/06
Congratulations on your win! Thank you for sharing this powerful, gripping testimony. I love the song you sister sang (we had it sung at our wedding). May God bless you with more of Himself and His love.
Shari Armstrong 03/13/06
Beautiful and gave me chills.
Crista Darr03/13/06
This piece touched me deeply. Thank you so much.
Julie Sewcharan03/14/06
Thank you for relating to us this beautiful experience. It was so vivid and makes me love the Father even more.
Kate Wells03/14/06
I lost my friend, Susan, to cancer only last month. Her last words were, "It's so beautiful...it's so beautiful"
This story reminded me so much of that...and of what we have to look forward to at our own homegoing.
Awesome writing! Congratulations on your win..
Kate~
Linda Watson Owen10/21/08
I'm so glad Joanney left a link in the Southern Thread to this article, one of her FW favorites. You so skillfully drew us into the depth of this brother's experience with his dying sister. If you wrote this from personal experience, you have my deepest sympathy. The loss of such a wonderful sister must still be wrenching. Her life and death as you've described it here live on as testimony to her great love for her Savior and His for her. This story touches and encourages me in a special way on this crisp autumn morning. My brother was recently diagnosed with a serious form of cancer. Bless you, dear author, for sharing this poignant story with us all.
Linda Watson Owen10/21/08
(Correction: Edy left the link.)