This is a message that I gave at my mom’s memorial service on Saturday, January 11, 2020 in California.
Hi everyone, my name is Stacey and I am the proud daughter of Dan and Margie Edmiston. I am also somewhat of a guest here in that I live in Cameroon, Africa. My family and I moved to Africa in 2014 and that was all fine and good… until my Mom was diagnosed with cancer three and a half years ago.
The woman who gave me life, raised me, and just wanted to be with her grandchildren was now a half a world away, suffering, and I felt bad about it. As time went on and she was nearing the end of her life, I couldn’t enjoy food because I knew my mom couldn’t eat. I felt bad about sleeping because I knew my mom couldn’t sleep, and I felt bad about enjoying things that I knew she could no longer enjoy.
My one solace, however, was that my dad was right by her side and I knew that she was in good hands.
Entrusting my mom to my dad
As many of you know, my dad’s full-time job these last few years was as my mother’s caregiver. While some husbands leave their wives in their hour of need, my dad’s love for my mom blossomed. During this time, his life revolved around taking her to appointments, helping her recover from medical procedures, researching different alternative cures for cancer, while all the while pleading to God for a miracle.
The last few times I spoke to my mom via a video call, she was in bed and looked like she had aged 20 years. I found her appearance to be jarring as I realized that death was undeniably taking over the body of my beautiful mother. And yet, there was my dad.
He was running his fingers through her hair thin, gray hair. He was putting Chapstick on her lips. He was straining to hear her as she gave him a request spoken faintly. He was telling her that when she took a nap, that she should pray, “Jesus, take me home” and then if she woke up still on this earth to say, “Oh, rats.” Who does this? I cannot imagine encouraging my husband to ask for Jesus to make him away from me. And yet, that is what my dad did because he just wanted my mom to be comfortable.
Not only that, but my dad was cheerful and encouraging to my mom whereas I could barely speak because I was overcome with sorrow. I didn’t understand how he was holding himself together. But now I know that he did it for her sake. He called her cancer-filled body beautiful, and kept putting different blouses on her until she found the one she wanted to wear. And he did this all out of love. My dad, through the suffering of my mom, was the embodiment of what God wants husbands to be. Ephesians 5:25-28 says:
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
My dad loved my mom. He loved her. He didn’t serve her spitefully or out of duty. He gave his life up for my mom out of love. He spoke the truth to her and encouraged her to leave him in order to go be with Jesus. The Lord used my dad to get my mom to a place where she was at peace before the Lord on her death bed.
My dad loved my mom more than his own body. The last night of her life my dad stayed up all night with her giving her morphine every two hours. He wanted her comfort more than he wanted to rest himself. I hate that cancer took my mother and yet, through her suffering and pain, my dad’s love was the most radiant. I was at ease knowing that my mom was in good hands throughout her years of suffering.
But then, on December 31st at 4pm California time, 1am Cameroon time, the Lord pealed back my dad’s hands. He pealed back my hands and took my mom out from under the care of my dad. She was, from that moment on, under the exclusive full-time care of Jesus Christ. I could see with my eyes my dad’s care for her, but would Jesus care for her that well?
Entrusting my mom to Jesus
Yes, yes he would. I take by faith, and we are all called to take by faith, that Jesus’ care for my mom is superior to that of my dad’s care for her for three main reasons:
Jesus loved her so much that he died for her sins.
My dad couldn’t die for her sins, nor could I–we are just fellow sinners. However, Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, actually chose to die when he could have avoided death altogether. He chose to die because he loved my mom and wanted to take the punishment she deserved. He said in John 10:35 “I lay down my life for the sheep.”
Jesus is worthy of our trust.
Jesus gives eternal life.
My dad’s commitment to taking my mom to chemo appointments and making sure she took all her designated medications probably bought her a few more years of life. My dad’s love was a beautiful love. But no matter how many times he made her cream of wheat, or rubbed her feet with oil, or wiped away her tears, cancer was still taking over her body and there was nothing he could do to stop it. My dad’s love could not give her life.
Jesus said in John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” Under the care of Jesus, my mom never has to be afraid of death again. Under his care, my mom never has to do another chemo appointment. Under his care, my mom never even has to endure one more ache or pain. She is free from death forever because of Jesus.
Jesus is worthy of our trust.
No one can ever, ever take her out of Jesus’ hand.
We lost her, but Jesus never will. John 10:28 says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Cancer can separate me from my mom, but cancer can’t separate her from Jesus. Arguments and hurt feelings at times separated me from her, but these won’t keep Jesus from her. Geographical distance kept me from my mom, but distance won’t keep Jesus from her. Death can separate me from my mom, but death won’t separate Jesus from her. Romans 8:38-39 says:
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus is worthy of our trust.”
Jesus is worthy of our trust.
And so, to conclude, God is calling me, God is calling all of us, to believe what we cannot see. I saw my dad care for my mom with my own two eyes whereas it is impossible to see Jesus caring for her right now. And yet, Jesus gives what none of the rest of us could give my mom–life, forgiveness of sin, and a forever relationship with him that will never be broken by death. What more could we want for her?
In John 20:28-29 Thomas saw Jesus after he was resurrected and said, “My Lord and my God” but then Jesus responded,
“Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
We cannot see Jesus and yet if we believe that he died for sin, that he gives eternal life, and that he keeps his own forever, we are blessed. We are blessed starting today, we are blessed in our hour of death, and we will be blessed under his care for all eternity.
And so to my dad, I thank you for the tender care that you showed to my mom. And to Jesus, I thank you for your care for her that is far better than the best any of us have to offer.
Here are a couple videos played at my mom’s memorial service: