February 7, 2007

"I can only imagine what it will be like, when I walk by Your side...
I can only imagine, what my eyes will see, when Your Face is before me!
I can only imagine. I can only imagine.

Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or in awe of You, be still?
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing 'Hallelujah!'? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine! I can only imagine!

I can only imagine, when that day comes, when I find myself standing in the Son!
I can only imagine, when all I will do, is forever, forever worship You!
I can only imagine! I can only imagine!

Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel?

Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or in awe of You, be still?
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing 'Hallelujah!'? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine! Yeah! I can only imagine!

Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel?

Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or in awe of You, be still?
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing 'Hallelujah!'? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine! Yeah! I can only imagine!

I can only imagine! Yeah! I can only imagine!! Only imagine!!!
I can only imagine.

I can only imagine, when all I do is forever, forever worship You!
I can only imagine."


Copyright: 1999 MercyMe

 

When I close my eyes I can still see and hear Jeff singing this song at the front of the Nazarene church he attended. He was singing it for a funeral of a friend of our family, Donna Cibella. It was before Jeff  was diagnosed. I can picture him standing there on the right side of the stage, microphone in hand. His voice was shaking, and he had to close his eyes in order to continue. I remember him saying later that singing that at a funeral of someone he was close to, and looking out to see her family sitting in the front pews of the church, was a very hard thing to do. At the time, the words of the song were true for him, just as they are for me now. He could only imagine and wonder what Heaven would be like.

I remember the vacation that we took in the summer of 2004 like it was yesterday. Sleeping in later than everyone else, I got up and asked Brian where dad and Jeff were. When he told me they went to the hospital, I thought they were kidding. Who goes to the hospital the first morning they are on vacation? Where was the hospital?? I was sure that the symptoms Jeff had were the result of a pinched nerve from a long drive. When I learned they were going to keep Jeff over night, I began to get a little concerned. Those few days were a blur, but I will never forget when Jeff came back to the condo after being released from the hospital. We were all there as a family, standing around him, absorbing every word of news Jeff had from the doctors. I can see him sitting in a chair in the dining room there, saying the words " I am in big trouble". It was the most serious look I had ever seen on his face. Jeff was scheduled to have a biopsy when we returned home. I remember going over to my mom and dad's to hear the news that the tumor was in fact cancer. I walked out to my car in the driveway and cried the whole way home.

I went to see Jeff when he came home from the hospital after his biopsy. He sat in his recliner and talked about what a good job the doctors did on the incision, barely shaving any hair. Kaylee, who was only 8 at the time, was his little nurse. She would go through all of the activities to test motor functions, having him touch his nose, etc. It was so strange to see someone that looked so healthy on the outside having to worry about larger than life issues.

Jeff was taken to Robinson Memorial Hospital just a few miles from his home in July of 2006. None of us were sure why his condition had worsened, seemingly so suddenly. I waited with Gwen, my dad, Tommy, and Mike in Jeff's room at the hospital. Jeff was sleeping so soundly, snoring. Before I left that night to go home, I whispered in his right ear as he lay there, "Good night, Jeffrey. I'll see you later." I didn't think he would possibly hear me as he snored. But, he turned his head and looked me right in the eyes and said slowly "I'll see you later". As I walked out of the hospital that night, I didn't know if I would see Jeff later. I was not prepared for that feeling. I had not let myself go to that place before. I kept reminding myself that God does not give us more than we can handle. And I was sure I could not handle losing my brother. That is when I began the prayer battle. I know now that at that time, that night at Robinson, God knew we were not ready. I believe that our prayers held Jeff here, and improved his condition so that we could have more time with him. That summer of 2006 seem to run together as one long week. Our entire family would get together at Hospice as often as we could. We celebrated my birthday as a family over Labor Day weekend. I made the chocolate peanut butter parfaits that Jeff loved and requested often. That was when we got our last family picture taken.

We seemed to live on edge whenever the phone would ring for months. I was so afraid to hear words I was not ready for. So I continued to pray. September 30, 2006 I got that call. My mom said Jeff had a fever and they could not get it to come down. We should all come to Hospice. That night was beyond anything I could ever try to explain. Emotionally, it was the hardest night of my life. Spiritually, it was one of the most memorable. I truly felt the presence of angels that night in Jeff's room. I am sure that they came to welcome Jeff home. At that moment, I am sure Jeff leapt up. I just had so much joy for him. Saddness for us, but joy for him! It puts life into perspective.

I had just finished a year of treatments on September 26, 2006. The other day I realized that it was only four days later that Jeff passed away. The thought of losing Jeff was beyond my comprehension, and losing him while I was still going to the hospital every three weeks to continue getting better would be very difficult for me to continue.  I am sure that Jeff prayed for me everyday. I am sure he prayed for his whole family everyday. It occurred to me that Jeff  was here to know I was finished, and that our prayers in that respect were answered. Maybe that brought him some peace.

I will never have the same understanding that God does as far as what we are able to handle. I would have never thought I would be able to carry on day to day. Going to work, playing with my dogs, the "normal" things in life. I have moments everyday that the tears roll down my face. I keep thinking of the famous "Footprints" message that my parents had hanging on a plaque in their house when I was little. It talks about the two sets of footprints, ours and the Lords'. When troubled times came, there were only one set of footprints. Confused, we would ask why God would leave us when we needed him most. He answers us by saying that it is in those times, the times when we see only one set of footprints, it is then that He carries us.

Amy

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