For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Google Kara Tippets and you will find a myriad of articles. I found her last October after reading her letter to Brittany Maynard, a terminally ill cancer patient in Oregon who wanted to end her own life. Kara was opposed to this stance, even when the circumstances seem to warrant it because she, too, was dying from breast cancer.
That letter began a saga for me, and thousands of others on Facebook, as we followed her story. She wrote a blog, Mundane Faithfulness, where she shared the ups and downs of her treatment, her family, her agony and pain, yet always, her hard peace and love for Jesus. She loved big and you could see it reflected in her husband and children, her family and friends.
I read her book, The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard, and gained a fuller and greater understanding of God’s love and peace in the hard corners of our lives. I remember my journal entries asking God for a time of peace. You, too?
Having fought valiantly for months for just a little more time, she came to terms that there were no more treatments and recently, knew she was fading. Each step away from independence was a battle. She fought for more time with her “littles,” yet, always gracious, never bitter, always leaning hard into loving.
That last week, she asked a pastor friend how to die well. His answer, “Rest in the arms of Jesus and let Him take you home.”
Kara lived out what she tried desperately to share with Brittany.
“Suffering is not the absence of goodness, it is not the absence of beauty, but perhaps it can be the place where true beauty can be known. In your choosing your own death, you are robbing those that love you with such tenderness, the opportunity of meeting you in your last moments and extending you love in your last breaths.”
We see life and death so finitely. But, our timeline is just a dash on God’s timeline.
I like to imagine Kara taking that final sail towards the distant shore. A crowd is on the bank, rambunctiously cheering for her with a loud welcome. We see Jesus as He enfolds her in His arms, as she steps out of the boat, and leads her home.
We waved good-bye on March 22nd, and now throw her a kiss, knowing that all pain is gone and she is free. On this side of heaven, we feel sadness, tears, and pain but HOPE fills our hearts. We will see Kara again.
Thank you, Kara, for teaching me how to live well, in the roughest of circumstances, and how to die well — looking to Jesus.