Dear Judy

Categorized as Rhonda's Posts

Dear Judy,

We’ve just come from the church. There you were, lying asleep. Scattered around were flowers sent by folks who cared. And everywhere, photos of a happy, smiling you.

We’d only seen you once, my husband and I. Remember? It was a special family event–a party. Your niece had graduated, and we’d all gathered to say “yea” and “way to go” and “congratulations.” And that’s when we first met.

When my phone rang early Sunday morning, I wondered what had happened. It was your sister, Barb, one of my best friends in all the world. “I’m sorry to bother you on a Sunday morning,” she said, “but it’s Judy. She passed away in the night.” She wept, and I prayed, for what else is there to do in the face of searing loss?

Standing there today, I watched your family. And I remembered. Remembered the love that flew on wings to gather your sweetheart and shepherd him home. You’d be so relieved, Judy, and happy and proud to know that your only brother and your brother-in-law dropped everything and went. That they came through when it counted, showing Jesus in skin. It was a beautiful gesture, and I found myself giving thanks.

Looking at your parents, I thought of the affection deep and true that’s marked your family circle. “We just love to be together.” That’s what your sister’d just told me. I remember telling her what a gift it was; that not all families were like that, and I rejoiced for you-all that you’d found this to be true.

Seeing your brother-in-law, Fred, I remembered the father love that looked after his girl. That drove to a campus to deliver the news. That insisted on being there to share of his courage. That came through when it counted, showing Jesus in skin, and again I gave thanks.

Speaking of father love, I thought of the picture that was posted on Facebook. There you are, face framed with curls, smile just a-glowing, and the most tender message beneath it: “My beautiful daughter…”  I could weep, Judy, at the love of your dad. What else is it but–yes, Jesus in skin, a father heart stretching right on past the grave. Oh, how I give thanks.

I saw love, too, in the form of your husband. There he was, standing tall by your side, stalwart and true in death as he’d surely been in life. You’d be proud of him, I know. You’d be thankful, too, for the Father’s provision for him and your daughters. How kind is the Lord to do it, and I’d like to think that you’re praising Him for it already, curls bouncing, smile shining like a thousand candles. Down here, Judy, we’re giving thanks, too.

It’s a helpless feeling, seeing such pain, feeling heartache with no way to change it. So some of us did all that we knew to do–we prayed comfort, prayed peace, asked for mercy and strength. And then we baked love, wrapped it up in 9-x-13 pans and carried it in. It made us so happy to do it, Judy, to care for those you loved, to offer it as unto Him. And so we gave thanks.

Hugging Patty and Albert, our neighbors, in the line, we laughed (we did!) when they told us what you’d said. Remember the viewing you attended together just the other week? You said, all spunky like, “At my funeral, I’ll bet only three people will come.” We laughed over it, Judy, and I think you would’ve, too, if you could have seen the line that curled and wound all through the church. It was far more than three, dear girl. It was far more than three.

They told us one more thing you used to say, a funny little you-thing that you’d told the family over the years. You were a middle child. That’s what Albert said, and then he told us that you’d say something like this: “I’m never first at anything.”

Well, Judy Girl, you made it Home first. With tears, I’m here, clapping. Your family is, too, through their own tears and all. What a first, dear sister, to finish your race, to make it to Heaven, to see our sweet Jesus, Redeemer and Saviour. There’s no greater first than that.

Some day, Judy, the rest of us will join you. You Martins, you’ll have a grand reunion in Hallelujah Square that will make the Farmstead Inn look like a pup tent. What a wonderful day that will be. For you. For them. For all of us. There in the land of no tears, no goodbyes and no sorrow.

Giving thanks, awaiting that day,


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