Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 (WEB)
It was the worst word a person hears—CANCER. She’d had it for a while so, when she was diagnosed, it was well established in her body. It was treatable but not curable. With her incurable optimism, Connie blessed countless others during the following year.
I met Connie over 50 years ago in a college dormitory. We didn’t become close friends though; the choice of college courses often separated students.
But Connie was always nice when we did see each other sporadically during our college years. After graduation we went our separate ways. I figured I’d never see Connie again but God had other plans.
I married in 1973; we moved to northeast Colorado to teach. In early 1975, my in-laws told my husband that his childhood friend, Gary, was getting married. A few days later the engagement announcement appeared in the paper. Gary, Bob’s friend, was marrying Connie, my college acquaintance.
After the wedding, I can still see Connie’s surprise and excitement as she recognized me at the same time my husband, Bob, was congratulating Gary. We four were all so happy for one another and hoped to reconnect soon.
Gary and Connie moved to Sterling so we had occasions to visit. A close friendship formed. Connie’s second child, Randall, and my third child, Doug, were the same age; we planned time together so the boys could play while we drank coffee and yakked.
Connie was a Christian who loved her Lord fiercely. Through the years we had many discussions about our faith and love for God.
Just after Connie was diagnosed with cancer, we had the most incredible visit that is still indelibly etched into my heart and mind. Connie was totally at peace. She was glowing with a calm that I’d never seen in anyone facing the diagnosis she’d been given.
Her plan was to completely forego chemotherapy or radiation but, at her family’s request, she chose to undergo treatments.
A few months later, she said she still had total peace and was completely in God’s hands. She did not blame God for the cancer but was trusting Him with her future.
Connie was not afraid to die. She was peaceful about whatever happened because she knew Jesus was at her side. I loved her words but it was the glow on her face and the peace in her eyes that made me realize that there should be no fear of death. It may mean a parting from what and who we know but the joy and new life a Christian steps into at death far outweighs the sorrow of leaving loved ones behind.
I have Connie to thank for the peace that overwhelmed me one evening in January when I experienced a health crisis that made me aware of my mortality. Instead of being afraid to leave, I was consumed with a peace and was assured that Connie was right about having no fear. I’m still here but that joyful peace is still with me.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for Connie’s friendship, her wisdom, her joy, her calm assurance and her unwavering faith and trust in You that was a lesson to all. Amen
First Baptist Church
Sue Davis is a 34-year member of First Baptist Church in Sterling. She assists her husband, Bob, with teaching an adult Sunday School class and has served on many church committees. She is the mother of three sons and Gramma to six grandchildren. Sue writes a weekly column for a local newspaper and enjoys free-lance writing in her spare time.