As I sit next to my twin sister, Denise, I think of the last picture (above) that we had taken of each other. It was a day where she was in the hospital due to major pain in her abdomen. The cancer that is killing my sister is in a vascular area called the mesentery. It is the body lining to which major organs are attached. I mention the vascular area because the primary cancer is wrapped around a major artery just below her belly button. It has been a dreadful fight for her, but she has endured.
This same cancer is what killed our first cousin, Brenda in March 2014. Her cancer was further along than Denise’s but the result is the same. Chemotherapy has not helped to bring any quality of life. Rather, it has merely weakened my twin sister’s body all the more. Her face is sunken, her hands wanting to curl, her mouth open wanting for breath.
Now, as a shell of a woman, my twin sister lies semi-comatose. She hears me along with everyone else. Sometimes her facial expression is such that we know when she’s not happy with our movement of her frail body. At other times she will groan like nothing I have ever heard from my twin. She hurts. She wants to say something but nothing comes out in the form of words. This is the first time in forty-seven plus years that my twin has not spoken to me. We have always spoken even if we were at odds with each other. We have always understood each other until now. It bothers me that I cannot hear her voice speaking to me. To hear her sing was a beautiful thing. The last time I heard her sing was in the hospital when she sang with my Cheryl, “Lord, I lift Your Name on high! Lord, I love to sing your praises! I’m so glad You’re in my life. I’m so glad You came to save us! You came from Heaven to earth, to show the way! From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay! From the cross to the grave, from grave to the sky, Lord, I lift Your name on high!”
She is becoming congested due to the excretions in her body. She tries to cough but she is not strong enough to cough. We have to do chest percussions now.
With the tenderness of a loving sister, Dina, our older sister, comes to her aid. Dina has been here caring for Denise. She has given my Mom an opportunity to just spend time with Denise instead of having to take care of other things. Dina has brought that relief to my Mother who has been caretaker for the last year. Tom, Denise’s boyfriend, is able to spend time with Denise not having to worry about her care. Dina ensures that there are no bed sores. Dina makes sure that Denise is hydrated. And best of all, she has managed Denise’s pain while ministering to the rest of the family, explaining the dying process. This is no easy task but with finesse she loving tells us how to care for Denise and what to expect. She is amazing. She is the finest caretaker I have ever seen. Dina is teaching me how to care for others.
Denise takes five or so large breaths. For the next ten to fifteen seconds she is taking very shallow breaths only to take these five breaths to catch up. She has oxygen as she sleeps. Her blood pressure goes up and then it comes down. Her heart rate is erratic.
When the doctor sent her home a few weeks ago, she was told that she had two weeks to two months to live. She did not accept the news. No, she is not afraid of dying; she knows where she is going when she leaves this body behind. She enjoys life but this cancer loves death. Denise has been one of the strongest of women that I have ever known. She fought a valiant fight. Denise has run her race. Tonight I told her that she has completed her work here. It is alright if she leaves us. I know full well that it is God who decides if she has finished; I just want to encourage her.
Now the tragedy of death is not the cancer. It is not the chemotherapy that weakened her all the more. The tragedy of death is that death affects all of us. One hundred percent of people in this world will die. It may not be cancer or some other dreadful disease. It is just a fact that death is inherent in all of us. All of us are tainted by it. But why? For what reason are we marred with death from the onset of our lives?
The Bible says this in Romans 5:12:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.
We are all affected by death because of sin. Now I do not believe that my twin sister committed some heinous sin that caused this cancer to eat away at her. I am not sure why this death is taking her this way. I just believe and know that sin in general has brought death not only to her, but to everyone. All of us are affected by this.
They great news is that Jesus Christ has died according to the Scriptures, was buried, and has been raised again according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). He has secured a way for my twin sister, Denise, to live for eternity. Do you remember John 3:16 from vacation bible school?
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
Denise believes that God loves her and sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die in her place. But even further than that, she believes that God raised Him from the dead thereby securing eternal life for all who believe.
Now if you know anything about my twin sister, know that which is of utmost importance. Do not think of her as a fighter. Do not think of her as leader. Do not think of her as a teacher. Do not think of her as an angel who is about to get her wings. Rather, think of Denise who is about to win the victory over death. Think of her as one who is a Christ-follower. This is who she really is. She has followed Him here and she will follow Him there.
The tragedy of death is not her death. The tragedy of death is the countless ones who will die not believing and knowing Jesus Christ like Denise knows and believes Jesus Christ. Has she been perfect here? By no means, and she would tell you this. But the reality of her death only moves her to perfection–the perfection of Jesus Christ.
Do you believe these truths? If your answer is ‘yes’, that is great. If your answer is ‘no’, then it is time for you to read this next verse from Hebrews 4:8:
Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.
If you hear God speaking to you telling you to believe and trust Jesus Christ to save you from your sin and give you eternal life, believe Him today! How? You can pray a prayer like this: “Dear Lord, I know that I am infected with death because I am a sinner. I am trusting You right now to forgive me of my sin and to give me eternal life. I believe that Jesus Christ died according to the Scriptures, was buried,mane was raised again according to the Scriptures.mi give You my life. Thank You, Jesus, for giving Your life for me. In Your name I pray, Amen.
If you prayed this prayer, please let me know by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would like to send you some information on how to grow in your belief in Jesus Christ.