Tomorrow is the second anniversary of Tim’s death. Christmas Day would have been our 24th wedding anniversary. And Christmas Eve-Eve (23rd) would have been the 20th anniversary of Tim’s double transplant surgery in Minnesota.
Today was harder than most people will ever know for me. It took an extra effort for me to go to Sunday School and church, come home and prepare lunch for myself, chat with a friend who needed something notarized, and talk on the phone with my son for a while.
I wanted to just curl up in bed and maybe watch an old movie, but instead I checked my email and Facebook account and wrote early happy birthday notes to several Facebook pals – tomorrow is their actual birthday.
Never once did I or anyone else mention the date, although I have certainly thought about it a lot in the last few days.
I got a phone call yesterday morning from a woman asking to speak to Timothy. I asked, “May I ask why you’re calling?” She said she was calling from the University of Minnesota Transplant registry office. So I told her that Tim died December 15, 2006 and that the Transplant team had been notified about it at that time.
She apologized several times, saying that the “call list” had never been updated. She seemed truly sorry, but we didn’t speak any further than that. I have no idea the purpose of the call, but it could have been a fund-raising call since they occasionally do that.
Also yesterday I did donate the clothing to the Hispanic ministry, as well as the Suzuki keyboard that I never use. Annette said that they’d had a break-in at their church building and everything they owned had been stolen, including musical instruments, so they were very glad to get the keyboard. And I was very glad they could use it.
Sally had taken me out to lunch for Christmas, then came back to the condo with me and we chatted for a while. She was still here when Annette came, and she helped carry the items out for Annette. We didn’t talk about the date then, either, although we did talk casually about Tim in passing.
Later on Sally emailed me the little story below. It’s made the rounds before but it was timely and it certainly reflects the way I feel about dying. Whenever my thoughts go back two years, I can feel Tim and the Lord re-directing my thoughts to the present, to the way things are for him now in heaven, and I make the conscious effort not to look back.
Here’s the story…
There was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things “in order,” she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.
Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her. “There’s one more thing,” she said excitedly.
“What’s that?” came the pastor’s reply. “This is very important,” the young woman continued. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.” The pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say.
“That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the young woman asked. “Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,” said the pastor. The young woman explained. “My grandmother once told me this story, and from there on out, I have always done so. I have also always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement.
“In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork.’ It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming … like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie, something wonderful, with substance!
“So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder, ‘What’s with the fork?’ Then I want you to tell them: “Keep your fork … the best is yet to come.”
The pastor’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the young woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge. She KNEW that something better was coming.
At the funeral people were walking by the young woman’s casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the pastor heard the question “What’s with the fork?” And over and over he smiled.
During his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her.
The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right. So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.
Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to us. Show your friends how much you care. Remember to always be there for them, even when you need them more. For you never know when it may be their time to “Keep your fork.”
Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share. Being friends with someone is not an opportunity, but a sweet responsibility. Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND even if it means sending back to the person who sent it to you. And keep your fork!
Those are my sentiments, too, so I’m sharing this little story with whoever reads this.