It isn't often that I post something sad. But I really need to at the moment. You see, my dearest, funny, sweet, loving sister has died. Cancer crept in and finished her off in seven months flat. Although it was probably a lot longer than that. Cancer tends to be very quiet at the beginning, and by the end it is deafening.
What can I say? Sadness is exhausting. We are all exhausted. And yet, amongst all of this grief and red-eyed living, there is something else. You see, I really prayed that she would get better. Some days my belief was so strong that I could almost taste the healing, and feel the happiness it would bring. I prayed that she would be totally healed from cancer. That she would never be a victim to fear or anxiety ever again. That she would grow old bones.
But she didn't. She died.
That should make me angry, shouldn't it? That should make me enraged with the God I was praying to?
Well, I'm not angry or enraged.
I'm deeply sad but I'm not angry.
What has happened is that I have come to know God in a way that I never knew him before. I have spoken to him, virtually every minute of every day, for months and months.
I have discovered that he is funny. Smart. Fearfully honest. Extremely loving. He doesn't give a brass farthing for rules and regulations if they don't suit him. He would prefer a party full of drug addicts in a squat to a smart cocktail party with the elite. He doesn't like it when people are judgemental, and he hates it when we are 'holier than thou.' He can't STAND social injustice.
In short, he is daring, fearless and ridiculously loving.
So why would a God like that kill off a sister like mine?
Impossible. He simply couldn't.
And so I have to re-think my thoughts about God. He clearly isn't someone who will immediately heal someone. Because he didn't. I still don't know why. But what he did do was to push himself RIGHT INTO my life, so that I could no longer ignore his gentle whispers or constant encouragement. And he pushed himself right into my sister's life, what was left of it. There was no ignoring him. That was NOT an option.
My sister is not here any longer. So where is she?
She's with that God I was talking about. That daring, fearless and ridiculously loving God that I have come to know. And that knowledge makes me...happy.
I'm sad, so sad, that I won't be able to talk to her in her kitchen, or wander around her beautiful vegetable garden with her, and sit on that little seat at the end in the sun, and chat about all of our children. We have eight between us. Quite a feat. When I think that I won't see her again in my lifetime it feels utterly, utterly bloody awful.
But I can look ahead. To after that.
Yes, I'm one of those crazy nutters that believe in Heaven.
And I'm very, very glad I do. I just know that we WILL be together again. We WILL walk about in a vegetable garden one day, with a little seat at the end. We WILL chat about our children and laugh about stuff. We WILL live and live and live. And there won't be any cancer because God and cancer cannot live side by side. And there won't be any worry or anxiety because God and worry and anxiety cannot live side by side.
And so there isn't really any need to worry, is there?
But for the time being I will have my red eyes, and I will cry a lot, because I MISS her.
Who wouldn't? She was the best sister anyone could ever have. The best wife. The best mother. The best daughter. The best friend.
And after I have cried a lot, and some years have gone by, I won't be so sad. We won't be so sad.
And always, in all of that, we will know that we will see her again.
God IS good. It's just that we don't always get to know him because we are either too busy, or he just doesn't seem that relevant to our world. Only he is. Relevant. Vital. Real. And now that I am beginning to know that, I know that he would NEVER take a life. He would only give one.