(Even though the date on the post is October 2019, it was written shortly after Jill’s death in March of 2019.)
Yesterday was a difficult and yet beautiful day. I went to the nursing home to collect some of Jill’s things. John went later in the day to sort through Jill’s clothes and leave most of the clothes for the other residents. He wanted to pick up a small refrigerator which had been in her room and some stuffed animals which he had given her. While I was picking up the items in the nursing home, members of the staff stopped by Jill’s room to tell me how much they enjoyed Jill. They spoke of her kindness to them, of how often she complimented people for their service to her. I drove away from the home further enlightened about this woman who had been my sister for so many years, but whom I apparently didn’t really know. I wondered how I could be so blind to her true character.
Larry and I were to meet with the funeral director at Gabriel’s at noon yesterday to arrange for Jill’s cremation and to have a private viewing of her body. Jill’s friend John had asked for a viewing, since there would be no funeral and no embalming. The funeral director told me when I first contacted him that they would wash Jill’s body, place it under a blanket, but it was not a public viewing which would have necessitated embalming. When I saw Jill’s body I was relieved of my anxiety for she looked so at peace and much better than she had in the nursing home those last days. Even Jill’s hair was no longer grey but a soft brown. I knew that the funeral home had not dyed Jill’s hair, so why the color changed I do not know.
As Larry and I drove up to the funeral chapel, we noticed three ambulances parked just outside the doors. I knew that the scheduler of the service which had driven Jill to her dialysis and hospital visits would be there at the funeral home, as the scheduler had asked if she could come to view the body and say “goodbye”. This woman had spent time with Jill while she was in the nursing home and hospital during her last weeks. Another lady would accompany the scheduler – she was the business development manager, who sat with me that last day when Jill passed away. The lady waited with me after the funeral home was contacted and until the funeral director came for Jill’s body. I was grateful and honored that both ladies wanted to come spend a little time with us. Erin came from work, and John, Jill’s friend, also came along with two friends who had known Jill for quite a few years. The two ladies, Jill’s friends, drove in from Kingsland.
Once Larry and I entered the chapel we noticed almost a dozen people waiting for us to arrive, as the funeral home will not permit anyone to view the body until the family gives permission. All of the EMT’s who had driven Jill to her appointments over the last year had come to say “goodbye”. These same folks had visited Jill in the hospital and nursing home, sometimes coming after their shifts were complete to keep Jill company – I learned of this in the nursing home. The EMT’s and their scheduler all spoke of how much they enjoyed my sister, how her courage and “feistiness” and kindness had touched them. Once we entered the room where Jill’s body had been laid, the group stood around Jill speaking of their interactions with Jill which had made them laugh or impressed them.
I had prayed the day after Jill died that God would send me a sign that Jill had “made it safely home”. The astounding events of yesterday have encouraged me and brought tears to my eyes. My sister, I am sure, is “safely home”. Thanks be to God for His goodness and His mercy to my sister and to me.