I was picking up my wife from her routine screening colonoscopy. As she was being transported from the outpatient endoscopy center in a wheelchair, I asked the nurse who accompanied my wife if a woman named, Karen, still worked there. She first gave me a quizzical look then asked me, “You mean Karen Smith?”
“Yes, that’s her, she is an endoscopy nurse!”
The nurse stared at me for a second then slowly said, “Karen passed away two years ago from cancer.”
My wife and I stood in stunned silence. I met Karen when I started my medical career at a local hospital. The endoscopy center was next to pathology and our paths frequently crossed. Affable, caring, and compassionate, Karen always had a smile and kind word for me and everyone she met. When my daughter was born, Karen welcomed her with a special blanket which she sewed herself. Over the following twenty years, our careers led us to different medical centers. However, whenever I or my wife had an endoscopy procedure, Karen would make a special effort to come and say hello to both of us.
I was quite saddened by the news and when I returned home, I searched the internet and found a tribute to her, written by one of her best friends, a fellow nurse, who met her when they were both nursing students. Her touching tribute included this moving story of her unselfish kindness, even during her own suffering.
“Karen was always giving and thinking of others and even at hospice continued to make Christmas stockings with her sister to give to her doctors, coworkers and friends.”
I shared the link in an email to my wife and wrote after it, R.I.P. Karen. My friend Karen had a tremendous capacity to love and care for others. I can think of no greater tribute to anyone than to remember them for the selfless sacrifices they made on behalf of others, even when they were in the last days of their own lives. Her life was a very personal reminder to me of the life that Jesus Christ lived when He was on this earth.
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:7-8 (ESV)
As Jesus Christ hung on the Cross, His broken and tortured Body wracked with pain, the crowd that gathered to watch the spectacle hurled insults at Him. Our Lord did not defend Himself nor did He answer His caustic critics. Instead, He prayed to God, His Father.
…Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Luke 23:34 (ESV)
No one who was there that day truly understood what was happening. At that moment, Jesus Christ was receiving the full brunt of every sin ever committed by anyone who had ever lived, was living, or will live. The sins of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Moses, the Apostles Peter and Paul, and yes, even mine, nailed Him to the Cross. Yet even in His indescribable and unfathomable pain and suffering, Jesus prayed for all of us, beseeching God, His Father, for mercy on our behalf.
How do we remember and honor those who selflessly gave of their lives until their last dying breath? We tell others of their story. Many lives, including mine, were touched by the compassion of my friend. All lives are touched by the compassion and love of Jesus Christ. He offers salvation and eternal life to all who confess and repent of their sins and accept Him as Lord and Savior. His story is still being told, more than 2000 years after his death and Resurrection.
We will only rest in peace when we rest in the eternal peace of Jesus Christ.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.