In the midst of this fun night, Pastor Eugene showed up and crashed the party. We always give PE a hard time when he comes by Life Together events, because the ministry is supposed to be for post-college/pre-family Questers, which is definitely not PE's demographic.
He joked around a little with folks, but when I went to go talk to him, he told me why he had been in the neighborhood. He told me that he had been called to Craig Wong's home, because the battle with cancer was not going well, and Craig was expected to pass away that night or the next day.
When he said that, it all came rushing back. The times in the hospital, seeing my grandma fight the cancer that stole her life. The phone call from my mom on a Sunday night after church telling me that my grandma was nearing the end. Breaking down on the phone with a friend as I couldn't handle the sorrow that immediately began to set in. Waiting anxiously at work the next morning for word. The feeling in my stomach when the phone rang, and I knew, even before I picked it up, that she was gone.
After PE left and I sat down to play some Bible Scattergories with friends, I was able to enjoy the rest of the evening, but my spirit was praying. Praying for Craig, that his passing would be peaceful and he would be safe in his Savior's arms. Praying for Craig's wife Betty, who is experiencing one of the hardest things a person can feel in this life. Praying for my mother, still grieving my grandma's passing and trying to deal with all the decisions and details about estates and wills and houses that are overwhelming her. Praying that someday cancer will no longer have the power to take our loved ones away. Praying that in the midst of this sorrow, there would be a way for us to see how God will work all things together for good.
Sunday at church we all heard the news: Craig had finished this life and had gone home. We prayed and we worshipped, and as we sang, I cried, for Craig and Betty, for their young children, who like me will grow up not knowing a parent, for my grandma, for all those who have lost someone to cancer. We mourn with those who mourn, and our sorrows expand our hearts so that we can carry the burden of others' sorrows. But the Spirit gives us gladness for our mourning, as we seek Him, as we bring our broken hearts and lay them at His feet. And so the last song we sang became the cry of my heart, the cry of all of us who have loved and lost:
God will you make us
A people that love You
Please take our offerings
That we set before You
God hear our prayers
That we're lifting up to You
God see our tears
That we're struggling to see through
God, hear our prayers to You