Never More Than I can Bear?

Perhaps I’m justified in thinking my life exhibits more than the usual number of episodes involving grief loss & bereavement encounters. Then again, maybe I’m just feeling sorry for myself. After all, the Bible says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”Matthew 5:4

Revelation 21: 4 states, “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.”

Knowing God warned his children about encountering grief and sorrow during their lifetimes did empower us to circumvent its wrath. Accordingly, there will always be those who endure what may appear to be more than their fair share of grief. What is a fair share of grief? Well, no human has that answer because the complexity of measuring individual effects of sorrow brought on by the death of a loved one requires super-natural intellect, something humans lack. This was the time I thought God gave me more than I could bear!

So, as much as I long to say I have lost more loved-ones during my lifetime than the average person, I regress! In fact, I am reminded of the poem “God’s Lent Child” once again. Before I write my youngest sister, who is no longer with me, I will first acknowledge that I understand she did not belong to me. Like the poem, God’s Lent Child, I look at my youngest sister’s death and realize she was God’s Lent Sister.

As the poem says, ”

“I’ll lend you for a little while
A child of mine” God said –
For you to love the while he lives
and mourn for when he’s dead.
It may be six or seven years
or forty two or three
but will you, till I call him back,
take care of him for me?

He’ll bring his charms to gladden you
and, should his stay be brief,
you’ll have his nicest memories
as solace for his grief.
I cannot promise he will stay,
since all from earth return
but, there are lessons taught below,
I want this child to learn.

I’ve looked the whole world over,
in my search for teachers true,
and from the things that crowd life’s lane
I have chosen you.
Now will you give him all your love,
nor think the labour vain,
nor hate me when I come to take
this lent child back again?

I fancied that I heard them say,
“Dear Lord Thy Will Be Done”
for all the joys thy child will bring
the risk of grief we’ll run.
We’ll shelter him with tenderness,
we’ll love him while we may,
and for the happiness, we’ve known
forever grateful stay.
But, should thy Angels call for him
much sooner than we planned,
we’ll brave the grief that comes
and try to understand. Author Unknown

There are many days in my life I shall never forget. This is one of them. My youngest sister, of three, me being the middle, called me one morning. She said she was watching her granddaughter while her daughter. We chatted a minutes or two before I heard her ask her granddaughter to get her a soda. She said something about having indigestion. We talked a few more minutes before ending the call. A few hours later, I received a call from my daughter. She said, mama, everybody’s been trying to call you. I replied, my ringer must be off the phone because I did not hear my phone ring. My daughter abruptly said, “Phyllis is dead!” I replied, Phyllis, who?” She responded, “aunt Phyllis.” I immediately thought and said, that could not be! I talked to her a few hours ago, and she was fine, other than some indigestion?

Seconds later, the essence of the call sunk in. My younger sister was dead! She was 55 years old when she passed away. At that point, I began to think about her granddaughter, my great-niece, who was there when she passed. By that time, a call was coming through on my phone. It was my nephew, my sisters’ only son. He was devastated. He said a neighbor called him because she saw my sister’s granddaughter outside alone, across the street from her house, looking afraid, like she was trying to get somebody’s attention to help her. The neighbor immediately went over and went back into the house with my sister’s granddaughter. There she found my sister slumped over in the chair, dead, and a can of spilled soda on the floor. By that time, my nephew was pulling up in front of the house. He said he saw an ambulance and police cars in front of the house and wondered what could be going on? Before long, he knew. Once he entered the house, he too saw my sister had died.

Days later, we learned the cause of death, “massive heart attack!” And, later we learned my sister had coronary heart disease Coronary artery disease (CAD). The family was shocked, especially her two children, who were grown. My sister never complained about feeling sick or being under a doctor’s care, and she always said she did not take prescriptions. Phyllis had an upbeat spirit like our mom and older sister, and me. Her smile was contagious. She lived for her children but loved everybody and their children. This was the time I thought God gave me more than I could bear!

When my youngest sister Phyllis passed away, I felt like God was putting too much on me. First mom, then six months later dad. At that point, I felt like I could not take any more deaths of loved ones. How many of you know I lied? Less than five years later, my oldest sister, who was only 10.5 months older than me, lost her battle to (IBC) Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Right about then, I stopped believing that God never gives us more than we could bear, but once again, I was wrong, evidenced by me being here today to tell the story!

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