“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55
My mother-in-law defeated the sting of death. In her last days she wrestled with a lot but never with the fear of death. She knew God and was dependent on him.
When I first met her I was engaged to her son and she had just had one breast removed. Then I married her son and we knew each other for years — but never grew close. After we announced our divorce; my ex left the state and my mother-in-law entered stage four of her long battle with cancer.
It’s funny how life works but my husband’s absence made room for me to be more present in my mother-in-law’s life … almost sort of as a proxy for him. It started that way — but didn’t end that way.
Every week or two or three I would travel about 50 miles to spend the weekend with her and her husband. She had declined further cancer treatments and only wore a belt that dispensed pain medication at regular intervals. Through the months she grew fragile, her hair curling around her head in short wisps. Her clothes hung on her. But that summer I grew close to her as I never had before and would often wonder, “Who was helping who more?” We became friends.
The thing I noticed most about her was her strength, sense of humor and her desire to mend her relationships. She would contact people she had known, putting those relationships to rest. As she grew nearer to death I noticed a peace and wholeness about her.
One area of unrest, however, remained — the absence of her son. She said she understood his being gone but her words sounded hollow … as if she didn’t really believe them herself.
My heart broke for her. Her son was floating around Lake Powell on a kayak.
One late September day I got a strange call “out of the blue.” It was from someone who had recently seen my ex husband on the lake. I explained the urgency of my mother-in-law’s imminent death to the man who responded he had a friend who was traveling to the lake the very next day. He would have him find my mother-in-law’s son and help him to call home.
And so it happened. My mother-in-law got a call September 27 from her son. She was in hospice and couldn’t speak, but heard his voice. Two days later she died — at peace.
“You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.” 2 Chronicles 20:7
Reconciliation orchestrated by God himself. He had mended all of her relationships and brought peace to her in death. A miracle. Death has no sting.