My sister’s picture wrapped the entire computer screen as I downloaded it into this post. I sat and cried as I saw her beautiful . . . bigger than life.She had wasted to sixty pounds the last few weeks, barely resembling this happy picture. How much do I know of this sister who chose to live all of her adult life in New Mexico? Oh, we talked on the phone, but can you know someone’s heart with two calls a month?
This past week, I peeped into her life as her Bibles, pictures and writing notes spilled around me. Our daughter, Sherree, was with her the last days of life, and had packed Cindy’s past into boxes, shipping a part of her life we didn’t know back to Tennessee.
Cindy never boasted of her nursing accolades, but I know she was an excellent nurse. After enjoying years of a medical career in major hospitals of Albuquerque, she retired and continued using her gift at schools, nursing homes and even in a prison. She had kept notes and drawings from third and fourth graders when she left the position of school nurse in 2004.
Dear Nurse Cindy, I am very sad that this is your last day. I really don’t want you to leave. I won’t like it without you. I will never forget the time my ribs got hurt and you helped me. I got sick once and you helped me. I won’t forget when you checked my ears. I wish you luck in your new job. Your Friend, Kenyon
There are many similar notes from these sweet children.
I cradled the phone Cindy had only recently held until she could no longer respond to calls and texts. I returned each text and call to her neighbors and friends who had prayed these weeks for a peaceful passing. So many sweet replies to my texts, affirming a sister they know better than I.
“I think you are angels,” our daughter, Sherree, expressed to Cindy’s neighbors who had ministered and served Cindy daily since her prognosis of death given on September 4. For eight weeks, they gave of themselves.
Two of Cindy’s neighbor angels, Bonnie on the left, Cher on the right with Sherree. Other angels neighbors include Diane, Dawn, Martha, Ari, Phyllis, Lenora. The Lord knows others I may have left off.
“Angels, we are not.” Bonnie told me. “We are doing what God wanted us to do, yes.” Oh, that we all lived with angels near—or had neighbors with such a heart to obey His voice in ministering when and where needed. Cindy would tell me she was being blessed by those coming and going around her during the last weeks. I wish I had pictures of all of them.
Jesus was questioned once about the way to gain eternal life. Remember, he then asked the expert in religious matters what the Law required; he answered correctly . . . “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10: 25-37
His answer affirmed he knew the right words, but the religious expert had no idea what a neighbor was. Jesus’ story reveals that a true neighbor is one who shows mercy to someone in need. As a nurse, Cindy had extended mercy all her life; in the end she was lovingly given love, mercy and kindness by those around her.
I want to remember Cindy as she is in this picture. I want to remember her years of service as she gave herself away to children and hurting adults. She was an angel to many as were those beautiful, caring women who were there for her.
This is how we are to live—and love—serving others in their pain, walking with them right to the door of death.
Are you an angel? Do you have angel neighbors? I like to think of the verse in Psalm 91 that says, “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. . .” verse 11, as a promise that the Lord’s angels are watching, protecting, ministering over me. I am taking it out of context, but it reminds me that we need angels. Who knows, they just may be our friends and neighbors.
Yes, divorce and abuse fragmented our family. Thankfully, Cindy found purpose, friends, and angels in New Mexico . . . a long way from Tennessee.
I wanted this blog to honor Cindy in some small way, and to give immeasurably gratitude to the friends and neighbors who loved her and ministered to her needs. . . to the last . . .