Although I regularly glean copy from my WordPress blogs when I post on FaithWriters, I'm keeping this eulogy more as is. I often quote scripture on my blogs but not as much as I do with FaithWriters, where there is more of a direct Christian angle. But having someone dear to me go to the Lord prompted me to focus more on God on my blog. J.S. Bach was said to not distinguish between his religious and his secular music. After almost three years fighting stage IV lung cancer, which metastasized to the brain and liver, late Sunday night my dear friend and companion Sandi has gone to be with the Lord. She's been up and down; we've been on a roller coaster ride, with Sandi's condition continually improving then declining. Last night the ride was over and she got out. It felt like I was getting out with her. Sandi died in the nursing home. On more than one occasion there and on other occasions, Sandi said "Jesus is in my heart." To reference the oft quoted Bible verse, Sandi will not perish, but have everlasting life, believing Jesus died to save us from our sin and confessing our sins and submitting to God's will. Sandi is a believer in Jesus Christ, born again. "The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts." 1 Samuel 2:6-7 Sandi's faith showed in her attitude, her demeanor at the nursing home. Instead of being bitter, sad, and taking it out on nurses and nurses' aides, Sandi smiled at them, greeted them back and thanked them. Occasionally, when she wanted to sleep, she'd say "no" to doing something, but with some coaxing, she'd cooperate. Sandi seemed to accept her situation, and was content. "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13In a sense we are all homeless. We are just sojourners in this world. Riches and fame mean nothing when you die, much like homelessness. What's most important is to serve God and his kingdom. As the Westminster Catechism states: "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." Sandi first got radiation treatment for the brain cancer, for a few months then chemo for the rest of it. After a year's treatment, the cancer left the lungs and the liver, but came back to the liver. After a year of Opdivo, which was in use after Sandi started cancer treatment, it was like Pacman had eaten all the cancer. I thought we were home free, but then a few months ago the cancer returned to the brain, which cannot be retreated. After the Opdivo treatment, Sandi's doctor compared the image of the before and after Opdivo treatment. He said that if the cancer was like the image on the before, she wouldn't make it to Christmas. But now it's the brain cancer that sent her to the Lord before Christmas. After the first year or so after I took Sandi to the ER after she felt like an axe was going through her head and was disoriented, she went from meager 80 to 90 pounds of her five foot four frame up to 112 pounds, the weight her cancer doctor said she should be.
We were in and out of hospital stays, after she fell and on one occasion a seizure. Also two short inpatient stays for physical rehab after her week or two long hospital visits. We went to Bible studies, community meals for the homeless and needy, to church and a movie. The action of the movie "No Place To Run", with Owen Wilson, kept Sandi awake. Over time, Sandi became increasingly more tired. After she stopped going to the community meals, church and Bible studies with me, she started going to her old church with me for a while. The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways Since I met Sandi three years ago, she kept telling me about a church she had gone to somewhere in New Jersey, not far from the Bristol, PA border. She didn't know the name of it or the address or even the town, only the names Abie, whom she said was a great preacher, and his wife, Melissa, whom she said had a beautiful singing voice. Periodically I'd go on Sandi's old Facebook page. On one occasion, Abie's photo came up. I clicked on it and followed a link to the church FB page and website. I read about what the church believes, and it seemed basically sound. I got directions and a phone number. Until Sandi got too tired to keep going to City of Refuge Fellowship in Burlington, we managed to get her with her walker up to the steps, where we got help from people there getting her in. During one service, Sandi kissed me and said "thank you for taking me here." She seemed right at home with her old Christian friends worshipping the Lord. Shortly after I got the news of Sandi going home, I talked with Abie, who comforted and encouraged me. He said that Sandi was fighting the cancer and that my presence, staying by her side helped give her the will to fight the disease. He said that Sandi could no longer fight the disease. I thought of lines from a song played on the Christian radio station K-Love that goes something like "never go under; you've got to fight until the final round..." And as I've told her at the nursing home "you're tough" and that she's tough because her late father was a Green Beret. Abie said that even before Sandi and I met, she escaped tough medical problems and that God brought us together so she'd be encouraged to live.
Sandi was brought back to Christian fellowship. Besides formal Christian gatherings, I used to read the Bible and Biblical materials, such as "The Daily Bread." I've read online summaries of Abie's sermons to Sandi. Sandi has helped my faith. Some time ago, after a Bible study at Restoration church, Levittown, PA. I remarked after the study that I felt the Lord bringing us closer together. Sandi said she experienced the same thing. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40She has taught me to love people unconditionally, to practice more compassion towards others, to show the agape love that comes only from God. I've learn more to put myself in others' shoes. When Sandi was in the nursing home, I was in the nursing home. The day before Thanksgiving, one of her nurses asked "Will you be here tomorrow? It's Thanksgiving." I replied "Sandi has to be here so I'll be here." "Share each other's burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important." Galatians 6:2-3 When resentment towards others reared its ugly head towards people who have grossly wronged me, Sandi gently admonished me. She reminded me that they are people and that my attitude was not Christian. I'm still going to God to have Him work on me with that attitude and other things I need to change. "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." Philippians 1:6