About this time last year, I was walking down the sloping hill from the cross on the church property toward the lake, a niece on my hip, my kids just in front of me, my nephews, nieces, parents, aunts, uncles and closest friends surrounding me. We were holding lanterns with handwritten messages on them, intending to set them adrift on the lake. It was a sticky, hot, windless September night, and the lanterns refused to drift out beyond the edge of the water where we reclined or stood or sat with knees pulled into chests. Our friend, Fred, was telling people about Jesus as we watched the flickering lights congregate near our feet. When the music began to float toward us, we walked back up to our seats beneath the cross to thank the Lord for Jesse’s life once more.
About this time, 7 years ago, I was standing in the back of a stand alone ER hearing the words “your husband” and “brain cancer” and “I am so sorry” strung together in a single, life-altering sentence. Jesse’s story was woven together with such intentionality. I still marvel at the timing of it all. From first breath to final breath, from the day of his diagnosis to the day we gathered together to celebrate his life, all of Jesse’s days were held securely in the outstretched arms of Christ. All of my days~all of yours~are held there, too.
If you have not watched it, this is the video of his service. If you have only a few minutes, I recommend watching the portion Jesse recorded a few years before his death, when he still had the ability to speak. I introduce the video of him around the 36 minute mark. Jesse was a gifted communicator, even when brain cancer and all of the surgeries, treatments, seizures and strokes tried to steal away his ability. Give it a watch, friends. You will walk away full to the brim with hope. Thank you all for continuing to come alongside me and mine for such a length of time. There are no words to adequately describe the impact your continued nearness has had on our lives.