Late yesterday afternoon I found an email from Julia's nephew in my inbox asking me to call right away. It seems neighbors had noticed a lack of activity -- newspapers not picked up, no sign of Julia walking to her mailbox. They called the authorities, and a young officer with the sheriff's department who regularly checked on our friend came and entered finding Julia had passed on to meet her Heavenly Father.
At her age and with her physical limitations, this wasn't really surprising. The part that I struggle with the most is that she died somewhat alone. Estranged from her only son since her husband died in 2006, Julia had no other family in the area. However, she had a multitude of caring friends from church and from churches her pastor husband had served. I will admit though that Julia had a stubborn streak which prevented most of us from giving her much aid and assistance. She willingly helped others, but she was not going to let it be said that she couldn't take care of herself!
Then I come to the verse of Scripture in Matthew 28:20 that tells me "I am with you always, even to the very end of the age." So, why do I say she died alone? Julia was not alone, no more than I am at this very moment sitting at home with my husband in another room. God was with her in those last few hours and minutes, and as her last breath came, He was there holding her hand. Of that I am sure.
Never fear, when times seem tough and trouble seems to abound, these words are yours too -- "I am with you always, even to the very end of the age."
Goodbye, dear friend, Julia -- I'll see you again I'm certain.