God blessed me with two sisters, one has gone from us, and the other I am blessed to still have. I’d like to share a personal note on my sister who has passed, whose birthday is today October 27th. I’d like to share what I wrote after coming home from the funeral in December 2004.
My sister, whom I was very close to, went to be with God for Christmas 2004. The call came, early Wednesday morning that she was gone. I knew she was gone before the call came. She had been sick and under treatment for cancer, and it was 2:40 a.m. that the call woke me from my sleep. “My sister’s gone”. Once again I felt a presence I cannot explain, a presence I have felt many times in my life. She was at the foot of my bed. I laid my head down and cried myself to sleep. She passed away at 2:35 a.m. Wednesday morning. I flew to Chicago and the “wake” (which is very common in on the East coast, a viewing) for all who loved my sister and knew her. It was so comforting. Family and friends came to say their goodbyes.
It was a beautiful place. It was the Christmas Season, and this being my sister’s favorite time of the year, it only seems fitting that she be surrounded with candles and Christmas trees that illuminated the room. Although this room was a place to prepare everyone for one last glimpse of the person who had touched their lives in so many ways, it was beautifully decorated with the smell and sights of Christmas. There was a sense of peace all around in the midst of gentle sniffles and tears.
It was difficult that day for I did not know what to expect. Several passed by to pray and spend time expressing their condolences; the flickering of the candles that were lit caught the glow of the lights from the Christmas trees sitting in each corner of the room. My sister looked beautiful as though I had seen her yesterday and she had fallen asleep. I stood by the casket looking at all the beautiful flowers and enjoying the smell of their fragrances.
All around there were pictures quietly telling stories of her life with friends, family, children, and grandchildren. Where did the years go? Although young, too young to leave us, one is never too young to be with God. More tears filled my eyes and a sense of loss came over me.
As the noise from the people grew, and the hugs from those who shared our loss were given every so freely, the warmth in the room grew also; it wasn’t long before it was time to say goodnight to my sister for the last time. Tomorrow we all would come to take her to her final resting place. I was so happy to see her children and her grandchildren fluttering about, attending to all her wishes, despite the tears and sadness in their eyes.
I was not able to concentrate on the song I had written to sing for her. I made it to the end before the tears took over. Then it was my nephew Paul’s turn to read something he wrote for his grandma; all eyes were upon him. He read a letter, which brought more tears to all who were present. He loved his grandma so much. To see the tears being shed of the children and grandchildren, as the music played “Flying with Angels” silence and tears were all that one saw.
There were many long-time friends of my sister present. Long-time childhood friends. You could feel a sense of family everywhere you turned, even in those you did not know. As I looked at the Christmas trees in the corner of the room, and all the candles lit, the smell of all the beautiful flowers, the chill in the air outside, I thought, what a beautiful time of year to leave this earth and enter into God’s presence. My sister was going to spend Christmas with Jesus this year.
On the day of the funeral, the sun was shining brightly in the sky. The air was crisp and cold. However upon the closing of my sister’s service, and as her coffin was closed for the last time, the doors were opened to the Hurst outside waiting to take her to her final resting place. Little snowflakes began to fall and soon it would be snowing. As we drove to the last place to say goodbye the warm tears rolled down my cheeks, in contrast to the coolness’ on my face. It felt good.
Father Joyce, who knew the family well resided over the service; gave all of us a different perspective to look at and to help comfort our loss. He said;
“Christmas is not just for presents and all that comes with the joy of Christmas morning, but it’s a time to remember what gifts God has given to us. For those who loved my sister, friends, family, children, we had the gift of Sandy for what we feel was a short time, a time too soon to go. But God’s time is different and so he wanted to bring my sister home; her time on earth was finished.”
Now she flies with the Angels and watches over those of us left behind from above. All of us will be together someday and for us left behind, there will be an emptiness we cannot fill. Every time we see an angel, we will remember my sister.
For Patrick, her love of 45 years, he must go on too, knowing that someday he will be beside her again.
But for now, we all must carry on with our lives and continue to serve God with sincere hearts through our family and friends. We are never alone and for all of us who are left behind, the spirit of my sister lives on. Let us not lose touch with those we love, nor let the days pass without calling to say hello, and to tell those we speak too that we love them.
My sister’s last words to me were “ I love you” …