Journey to Oz 8– The Rest of the Big Picture

August 31, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Two entries ago, I shared about my friend Hillery and the memorial service I attended for his mom, Caddie.

Now I want you to hear about the experience from Hillery, himself . This is an e-mail I received from Hillery a day or two after Caddie went home to be with Jesus…

(Some of you may be uncomfortable with the phrase I just used– “went home to be with Jesus.” Often, phrases like that seem trite and cliche– something Christians use because they don’t know what else to say in these difficult times of loss. If you had that feeling when you just read it, that’s okay. Read on.)

Soak this in, ya’ll. I thank God for Hillery and Caddie and the beauty that can come from even the darkest, most difficult times…


From: Hillery Schanck Sent:Fri 7/27/07 12:49pm
To: Doug Haupt

Subject: Journal Entry


Hey folks. Thanks for all the prayers and support. It has meant so much to me. I have attached a journal entry of the last 2 hours with my mom. This was all very real, and I still am trying to process it. May it encourage you.




I walked her to the gate yesterday.

When I arrived my sisters were waiting outside in the garden. They told me that she was holding on…nobody knew why, but the doctors and nurses said that she was holding on longer than most people do. It was my turn to walk with her.

I went in the room, where my dad was sitting with her, holding her hand.

I said, “Mom, I’m here now.” I just looked at her. My dad and sisters had been walking with her a long time…holding her hands, talking to her, singing to her, reading the Bible to her. Dad had given her permission to go, as sad as that was for him. But for some reason, she had not gone through the gate.

Shortly after I was there ( I had no concept of time) Dad told Mom that he was going to leave for a little bit.

I shifted to the other side of the bed where Dad had been, so I could see her eye to eye.

At first, I could see that she was a little bit nervous. After so many years of trusting she would come to this place herself, and she understandably, humanly paused to be sure. She had always believed. She never knew a time when she did not believe. As I look back about my own journey, it was her faith that led me to the original gate I walked through. I held her hand and told her she had never looked more beautiful. This was her time. Her father was waiting for her on the other side of the gate. But still she paused.

We sat for a while, just looking at each other. I was so pleased and privileged to be with her at this time.

(The doctor came in and asked how she was. I told her that my mom seemed a bit anxious. She left and said that she would go and get her some anxiety medication.)

I could see it in her eye… “Are you sure? Is everything going to be OK?” I looked her in the eye and smiled, then I whispered to her, “Everything is going to be OK. God really loves you. He loves us too. And you love him. You know that we get to be with Him forever. I read from John, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” I continued, “”I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” “Don’t be afraid. You believe in Him. You believe in Jesus. Your husband, all of your kids and grandchildren believe. We will all be together again.”

Together, we took a few steps closer to the gate and I noticed that her breathing had calmed a bit. I looked in her eyes and smiled at her.

Then, I noticed her eyebrow furrowed just a tiny bit. You might have thought it was a twitch, but I could see that she was thinking about something. “What’s wrong, mom?” I stared into her eyes to see.

She looked back at me and I could see deeply into her soul. “Are you sure?” I looked at her and smiled. “”Its all true. Its all true. It IS Jesus. He loves you and he loves us.” (As I reflect on this moment, I never for a moment thought that she was questioning her faith. Her body was frail and failing. She simply wanted someone else to encourage her when she was losing the ability to trust her own self.) Even though her mouth could not move, she was smiling ever so briefly. I could see it in her eyes. She had a simple faith in Jesus, and she knew that was all was needed. I simply reminded her of what she already knew. It was like she said, “Oh, yea…that’s right…thanks.” I was certainly not telling her anything she did not already know. She just needed to hear it…and it made her smile.

I held her hand and we walked a few steps closer towards. Then, she paused. I looked in her eyes and she said to me, “But what about this body, I feel terrible right now. Look at me.” I replied that she would be leaving this weak body behind. “It is your spirit that lives forever.” I read her from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I smiled and looked her in the eye. I saw her as beautiful and radiant. I said to her, “Mom, you have never looked more beautiful to me…and you are not even wearing lipstick! But you are holding on to this body, this perishable body. Your spirit is strong, and righteous, and holy. Don’t hold on to this perishable body.”

She seemed to consider this for a moment. Then her breathing calmed even more. She had never needed to be convinced about Scripture. When it said something, she always simply believed. She never needed Greek translations, or theological explanations. At this moment, I could tell that the Scripture to her was like water. It cooled her spirit…it calmed her. It truly had a supernatural effect on her at that very moment. Noticing this impact, I prayed, “God please take her…she is yours.”

We continued walking slowly, never losing eye contact with one another. We just walked and gazed into each other’s eyes. We went for periods where nothing was said, we just kept looking at each other. People passed through the room and may have even talked to us. I do not really recall what was said. I did not want to be distracted. I knew we were close to the gate, even though I would not be able to see it. I could feel it though. My mom could see the gate. She knew exactly how many more steps it was.

While we walked, I reminded her about all the times she had held my hand when I was afraid. When I had skinned my knee, or bruised myself, or when I was sick. “Mom, you were there for me and now it is time for me to hold your hand. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid I am here with you, holding your hand. I know you can feel me.”

At this point, Emily joined my mom on her other side and took her hand.

Mom was much calmer at this point and her breathing was completely relaxed.

(The doctor came in and said that she had the anxiety medication that we had requested. I looked at my mom and then back at the doctor. “She does not need it anymore. She is fine.” The doctor (and Emily) looked at me perplexed. She said, “The doctor said I am supposed to give this to her now.” I told her that I was the one who requested it, but my mom no longer needed it. She said OK and walked out.)

I returned my gaze to my mom. Her breathing was perfectly calm. I knew that SHE was ready. This was her moment. We were at the gate. I watched each breath carefully as they slowed.

I quietly prayed, “God, take her now. She is ready for you. Take her, please.”

Mom breathed one last breath and walked through the gate.

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