When you know the death of someone you love is imminent, all you can think about is seeing that person again before they go. Especially if an ocean lies between you. Unfortunately, however, the labour laws of our country dictate that we can only receive leaves-of-absence from work with pay–after a death has occured. That meant that in order to see Maman, my mother-in-law, again, we would either have to make two last-minute and expensive trips to Europe, one without pay, or we would not see her before she passed away. There didn’t seem to be any compromise. If we only knew exactly when her time would be, we would be able to accomplish both goals with one trip; but since we didn’t possess a crystal ball, there was no way to know when would be the best time to make that transatlantic flight.
Some time between the initial scare and the second, real report that Maman wasn’t expected to live, my husband received two funny messages from God. He was about to watch a DVD that he had used to record random TV shows. There is no real way to know what show will come up next, but as he put the disc in the player, he heard God’s voice: “It will be NCIS.” And it was.
Wait. Why would God care to tell my husband what show he would watch on TV?
Two minutes later, he reached for a chewable Vitamin C. There are four flavours of these particular Vitamin C tablets, all colour-coded; but when you blindly reach into the jar, there is no way to know which flavour you will get. As his fingers began to fish out a tablet, he again heard God’s voice: “It will be green.” And it was.
Wait. What was going on?
God then spoke again: “If I can tell you what show you will watch and what colour your Vitamin C tablet will be, then can’t you trust Me to tell you when it is the right time to fly to Belgium?”
Two weeks later, on Tuesday, February 7, we got the call: Maman was only expected to be with us another few days. Because we had received a similar call two weeks earlier that had turned out to be a false alarm, we weren’t sure what to do; but remembering the message from the TV show and the Vitamin C, my husband and I began to pray. The next morning, God told Rob that it was time to make our flight arrangements, and He told me that Maman had exactly seven days to live.
We couldn’t fly until Saturday, and given the timechange, along with the fact that it was an overnight flight, we arrived in Belgium Sunday morning, February 12. We drove to the nursing home to find that Maman was having a good day. She was alert, she obviously knew who we were, and every few minutes she would smile at us. She even drank some water, which she hadn’t done in several days. In all, she was at peace.
The next day, Monday, February 13, she was in a semi-comatose state. She wouldn’t eat or drink, her eyes were glazed over, and by the end of the day her breathing had become shallow. We asked the nurses to call us at our hotel if her condition changed, and that call came in at 3:15 in the morning. We hurried to the home and were able to hold her hands as she went to sleep in the arms of Jesus.
Only afterwards would we realize that it was Tuesday, February 14, exactly seven days after God had told me she would be with us exactly seven more days…
But God had only begun to reveal His perfect timing. My husband had three unused personal days he could take from work, along with his five days of bereavement. We had felt led to book our return flights 12 days after leaving Canada, on Thursday of the following week. As it turned out, there was a statutory holiday during that upcoming week, and my husband was able to make the entire trip without losing pay.
But with Maman passing away so early in our trip, what would we do with the ten days that remained of our booked-off time?
God had it all under control. The earliest date for the funeral was the upcoming Monday. We also wouldn’t have the death certificate–the piece of paper critical for the settlement of the estate–until Monday. Interestingly, this also allowed our oldest son time to fly in from Canada for his grandmother’s funeral.
We then learned that the burial couldn’t happen until Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon was also the only time we would be able to see the notary to make arrangements for settling the estate. As it turned out, the days between the death and the funeral were just the right number to accommodate cleaning out my mother-in-law’s room, purchasing gifts for those who were helping us out at home, and celebrating our son’s 24th birthday.
And finally, because our return flight on Thursday was early in the morning, we would have to move from Ostend (on the coast) to Louvin (near Brussels) on Wednesday. God had quite literally impressed us to book off the perfect number of days!
Somehow just knowing that God cared enough to work out the timing so perfectly helped us to know–and trust–that He would also help us through our grief…
Remember this Truth: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6: 2 NKJV). God’s timing is perfect. All the time. Even when we don’t see, He does; and we can trust Him to tell us when the time is right, no matter what the situation.
There was just one more lesson God had for me through this ordeal. Please join us on Tuesday for the conclusion of “Maman, Adieu”!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire “Maman, Adieu!” mini-series, please click here.)