What do you say to a friend only hours after he loses the love of his life? When the phone rang and I saw his name on the screen, my heart did that sad little skip it does when processing bad news. Irvin had called November 13th to tell us that things were not going well for Alma in the fight against cancer and doctors were not giving her much time. Still we prayed for healing because we know that God holds both time and health and His hands. Anything less than that is not what God desires for us.
I had heard moments before Irvin called that Alma had passed away but when he called, that reality sank in. With the same deep affection towards Alma that he displayed during her life, he shared their last hours together. He talked, I cried. I cried for Irvin’s loss, for their five children’s loss and I cried as the only way to express how deeply his journey has touched my heart.
As I shared in my earlier blog, The Redemption of Suffering, our strong friendship has been both delightful and unexpected. Worlds apart in so many ways, our lives intertwined through business, children at the same school and a passion for truth and freedom. Having spent countless hours talking heart to heart, it was not unusual to hear first hand this final step in releasing Alma into the arms of Jesus. Few stories of death have touched me so deeply, if any.
Last evening, as the pain became unbearable and the discomfort of the disease took over, Alma and Irvin spent one final hour together with their children at bedtime. During this time Alma told her children how much she loves them but how tired she is and unable to fight any longer. They took turns holding her hands during that time before being tucked in bed.
She grew increasingly uncomfortable on the couch and eventually asked to go to bed, hoping that the comfort of blankets would bring her rest because she had always loved to be tucked in cozy blankets. This proved futile and soon the blankets were kicked back.
Finally Irvin asked if he could take her out of bed and hold her. Irvin is not a small man and Alma, even in her years of health, was not a challenge for him to hold or carry so he lifted her out of bed, carried her to the rocking chair. There he held her and snuggled her and she finally relaxed and rested. He talked to her and prayed over her as she moaned quietly and breathed softly against his neck.
Gradually her breathing became more shallow. There in his arms, at about 1:30 this morning, Alma found her final rest and comfort as Irvin placed her in the arms of Jesus. Rest in peace my friend.