Friday, April 16, 2010

Ernestina...

I've been telling you this week about my twin's sickness and death. (This week marks 21 years since she died at the age of 37 in 1989.) (Now you know how old I am.)

Anyway, she had this nurse-type lady named Ernestina. She actually may have just been a maid or something else in that hospice facility. Anyway, Ernestina was a lot of fun.... bringing much needed lightheartedness into that place. She looked kind of like that lady to the left only she had short hair. (I'm all about visual aids if I can get them.)

One day while I was there she and Peggy were talking about life and death, and Peggy told her, "Ernestina, I want to see you in heaven someday!"
"Oh, Peggy, I don't know. I'm kind of a scoundrel. I'm sure God doesn't want me there." (something like that)
Peggy said something like, "Ha! You're exactly the kind of person God wants in heaven... the kind who thinks they don't belong there!"

Peggy proceeded to share some stuff about Jesus - and why us being scoundrels (and worse) is exactly why we need a savior. ... etc.

Anyway, I think that really affected Ernestina. It seemed to be a profound revelation to her.

Fast forward just 2 weeks... Ernestina died suddenly (brain aneurysm)!

Whoa.

Now let's REWIND about 2 months:

This is about 5 months before Peggy died, and 2 months (maybe) BEFORE she talked to Ernestina (who we thought was in perfect health).

Peggy, Jim (her husband) and I are in the little living room area of the hospice apartment. Peggy begins to rock back and forth - not in a rocking chair - but on the couch.
"What if," she begins, "it's all a crock, a lie? What if there's nothing to it?"
"To what?" I asked.
"To God, and Jesus, and heaven and stuff."
Jim says, "Peggy, you're a Christian, aren't you? You're going to heaven, of course. It's simple."
"Simple??!!! What if it's NOT?! What if what I've heard about all my life and believed in is just nothingness? An illusion? Fairy tale stuff?"

(I was so understanding her then, yes.)

So Peggy started worrying. Well, she'd worried before. But now she was talking about it.

I wish I could tell you the 'rest of the story' - and how Peggy got her faith back, and how she came to peace with knowing Jesus WAS her Savior, and gave her eternal life. - but I didn't know her inner mind - and how she came to peace ....but I KNOW that she did - because that bout with doubt ceased. She quit talking like that (though I think it was GOOD that she talked like that then, by the way (I think questioning is good.)) and talked just the opposite: how God was with her... and leading her home. And she was sharing her faith with not just Ernestina, but others.... many others... from that hospice apartment.

She was sharing her faith when she couldn't get out of the hospital bed in the bedroom... and when she couldn't even raise her head.

It was AMAZING.

Oh, she was human. (If anybody knew that, I did.) She'd get very sad - and sometimes mad - that her days were numbered. She'd get sad especially when she'd look at the picture of little Cap and Elizabeth. Yet she was a firm believer that she was going to where she was going.... and she wanted those around her to go too.....

And I know Ernestina is there with her.

I know it!

(What a great sister I had.)

(I hope this made sense - I wrote it kind of fast.
I'm going to hit 'Publish' now - and well, I hope you understand it.)

4 comments:

Maria said...

Thanks Nancy, stories like this increase my faith.

Being Beth said...

You made sense, Nancy - a LOTof sense. Wow, what an incredible story. I totally understand Peggy's questioning. I know I've had seasons when I wondered if Christianity wasn't some sort of crock. It seems like God understands and accepts that part of our humanity. In fact, I think sometimes he allows us to go through stuff that forces us to question our faith, and in those times he shows us his grace. He really does help us in our unbelief. At least that's been my experience.

caroline said...

I'm sure Peggy was so glad to have you there at the end with her when she was going through that and having someone to talk to about it all so she didn't have to pretend to be strong all the time.
Thanks for sharing her story with us!

Deanna said...

Oh, Nancy, I just read this and I am sitting here crying and remembering my brother. He and I had pretty much this same conversation during the last months before he passed away. We were in the process of moving to Ecuador from Canada, and of course he was living in Seymour, Texas. I stayed with him and took care of him for a little over a week (my sister in law had to go out of town on a course for her job) and we sat up and talked and talked and talked every night - he wouldn't go to bed, couldn't sleep - we shared so much in those days and nights together. And talked it out, in, sideways and all over the place. And he got a dear friend (a former classmate from Baylor, and a former pastor) to come and visit with him. And somehow through it all, God gave him comfort and assurance. Blessed Assurance.

Even our wonderful pastor here in Fort Worth (Ted Kitchens at Christ Chapel Bible Church) has shared with us from the pulpit the times in his life when he has asked himself the same questions.

Sometimes when I pray, and I think He isn't answering my prayers quickly enough (or with the answer I want), and I forget that His plan is always the best, and His timing is always perfect, I have to cry out "Oh, Lord, forgive my unbelief!" I hate it when that happens. But it does. And He always forgives, and restores.

What a beautiful testimony you have shared with us. Thank you.