“She’s entering her final stages of life.”

Those words curled up their fingers and sucker-punched me right in the heart. Yes, she was sick. Yes, the prognosis was barely grim at best. But reality hasn’t truly settled in.

Just three months earlier, life had ripped a hole in my normal. One day, she was my happy, healthy, vibrant friend and the next, she’s tippy-toeing around the grave.

Thanks to Facebook, I found out something was wrong. See, we are special friends, but we’re the kind who slip out of contact and yet pick back up wherever we left off with ease. The last time we picked back up was too long ago to remember. She was always there in my heart. But now, ten brain tumors are ravaging her brain, and the prognosis is grim.

Watching her life slip away so quickly plunges me into a time warp of memories.

Fuzzy, water-colored visions of manicures and shopping together flicker in my mind. She used to cook, clean, take care of her children and her husband — all things she has now done for the last time unawares. We used to talk for hours, now there’s rejoicing for a whisper. Oh, how’d we’d laugh together and just enjoy sharing stories about life and kids. And what a special bond we have — two sisters in Christ with a common love for an uncommon Savior.

Now, she’s fading away from this earth. And though her life hasn’t stopped yet, living fully has. As I reflect on that, regret promptly slaps me in the face — it has been too long since we talked or visited.

My brain flips over to the question channel. Inquiries surge as I grasp for answers — for peace. Oddly, I feel like I don’t know the answers. And somehow I do know, all at the same time.

“Why her?

All will kiss death. It’s just part of what it means to be human.

And, “Why, God?”

I know God’s in control — He’s calling the shots. And like it or lump it, that’s the God’s honest truth. But sometimes I’m not satisfied with what’s true. I thank God for reaching out even when I’m tangled in what’s out of reach.

God knows our frame, that we’re all just flesh — perishable and vulnerable. He knows how torn I can be between the cares of this world and what matters most. He knows.

God also knows how to get my attention. There’s nothing better in life than knowing the One True God. Trials are the toolbox that often thrusts us straight into God’s arms — into to knowing Him more. And grieving the death of a loved one is one of the greatest trials we endure.

Ecclesiastes 7:3 tells me, It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” Solomon says it’s better to dwell — to live — in the house of mourning. How could it possibly be better to sit ringside while a loved one is on the ropes of death?

When death and mourning barge through the door, I find myself thinking about things that matter most. I consider life here and the life hereafter. I consider God and all He is. Hope glitters through the muck in Jesus. Jesus — the one God sent, Who conquered the grave, death and Hell on our behalf!

Through Jesus, hope is laced in tightly beside the fear and anguish of death. My hope is in God. He’s there, waiting to receive His people when we pull back the curtain on death.

True, my friend is dying. But life is just around the corner. And it’s way better.