I have been jolted this past week by words that will have a lasting impact. I have heard them as I answered my phone with no preparation for what I was about to hear. I will write about three calls, completely unrelated to each other, but all revealing to me deep-seated relational foundations that I am thankful to know so that I can be intentional in nurturing them.
The first was received as I was just setting up my desk for a day of work. My friend’s voice was so weak I could barely hear the words as she said, “I can’t breathe.” The sound of her gasping for breath and the panic in her voice quickly produced panic in my response. But I have a strange way of looking calm when I am not so I doubt that I spread panic anywhere else when I reported to my supervisor that I would be gone for the day. My friend was an hour and ten minutes away. I kept my phone on remote speaker as I drove to be with her. She kept asking where I was, wanting to know how far I had come on the journey to be at her side. She seemed to be aware of something she had not thought of before when she said, “Somehow, I want you to be the last person I talk to here on earth.” (This time she lived to carry on conversations with others but her thoughts as she thought she was dying will live with me.)
The second is a call informing me that a man who walked with me when a childhood friend died a couple of years ago had terminal lung cancer and would himself die in a few days. I didn’t know this man well but we had some intense discussions as we processed the dying wishes of our mutual friend. The lingering memory I have of our conversations is his inability to believe his sins were forgiven even though he had confessed them and asked for forgiveness. He did have a relationship with Our Lord Jesus. When I called his brother to speak to now this dying man, his brother said he wasn’t able to speak. He was no longer responding in anyway. Knowing that hearing is the last sense we lose I asked his brother to put the phone to his ear. I told him he would be dying soon and reminded him that he was a forgiven sinner. I learned the next day that I was the last person to talk to him before he died. I want to think, though, that there were other unfinished faith conversations and prayer.
The third is a phone call from my sister telling me she had just had a car accident, her car was totaled and she had excruciating chest pain. She is my only genetic sister. Her injuries were minimal, her car is repairable and the damage is mostly to her cash flow but I don’t want to be too busy to talk to her the next time she calls.