I remember when my mother had surgery, my aunt was so eager to help her sister, who had helped her so much during her two bouts with breast cancer during the last two years. The cancer was in remission and for the first time in a long time she was strong. She was very proud to tell me that she had been able to take longer walks, which was huge for her.
Aunt Angler prayed for my mother, as did I, before she went into surgery. It was a great comfort to have her with me in the waiting room. God allowed there to be a drama-free presence, which was one of my prayers. So when my mother came home, I stayed for a few more days before going back home. I felt good about my Aunt Angler staying behind and caring for her
Aunt Angler dropped me off at the bus station early in the morning. I expected her to leave but to my surprise, she waited in the terminal with me. We just sat and talked until my bus came. Our conversation was mostly about the Lord. She had no children but she prayed for her nieces and nephews—mostly for them to come to know Christ as their Savior.
She was always interested in my life. I actually let her know some of the things I would never trust with others because I knew she was not being nosy—she actually wanted to pray about it. That’s not always the case with other family members. Sometimes when you reveal things to some family members your information gets caught up in the family gossip tree, but I knew that was not the case with her.
She was one of my first examples of someone who stood out in my family. Church is just somewhere to go on Sundays for a lot of people. It was that way for me too until God blessed me to understand that church isn’t the building—it’s the people, and the people should look like Christ. What I was seeing in Aunt Angler was a real child of God.
As I got on the bus, I said my goodbyes and gave her a hug. Goodbyes are a big deal when you are saying it someone you love. Seeing her from the bus window, I didn’t realize that this was going to be the last time I would ever see or talk to her again.
It was about three months later that she was diagnosed with cancer again. It had spread to her lungs. Against her doctor’s wishes, she refused to have chemotherapy. She wanted to go home to be with the Lord. She was not afraid, she looked forward to it.
One night when she was very weak, she prayed over the phone with her pastors and best friend. They were all petitioning the Lord for her to go home. And for what she did next, I am forever grateful. My aunt called my mother into the room to prepare her that when she woke up in the morning, she would not be there. It was too much for my mother to take. This was not Minister Angler Walker to her, this was her little sister. She didn’t want to believe her, but the reason why I am able to tell you this is because she heard her and it is because she heard her, what was to come was a lot easier for her. God does have His ways.
Early in the morning, my mother entered the room where my Aunt Angler was sleeping. When she looked at her she knew that she had passed. She had, indeed, gone home to be with the Lord.
When my mother told me the story, I thought about so many things. For one, God gave my Aunt Angler the grace and the strength to help care for my mother for a space of time before she would need to depend on my mother again for her own care. Secondly, He also gave these siblings such a wonderful time of connection, even through the three bouts of cancer. He always has a reason for allowing his children to suffer. In the suffering, others see Christ through them. Also, He honored her by taking her at her request. How could I truly be sad for anything other than the fact that I would miss her.
Perhaps, what I thought about most of all is what I still find myself thinking about from time to time today. I started to think about the heavenly activity in the house that night that Jesus came to get His daughter. Talk about awesome! There really are no words to describe how amazing that is. Nonetheless, in a feeble attempt to understand what happened that night the song that draws near to my heart is “I can only imagine” by Mercy Me. Whenever I hear that song I always think of God’s victory in Aunt Angler’s life. It really is a portrait of Christianity.
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