It seems to me one of the more difficult subjects to talk about these days, is what happens after death. Is there such a thing as “Life After Death?” To many, the question posed is one of life’s greatest mysteries. To others, it’s all simply a load of rubbish–a fools folly. But to the faithful, it’s God’s greatest gift to humanity—The gift of eternal love and life. “Yessss, I can hear you, your voices screaming out…Are you nuts!” Well—I could be. But I’d rather like to think of these words as sharing a very small part of a much larger story of my wife’s journey through cancer. A story of love, grace, and wisdom. A story so powerful and unlikely, it had to be told.
In June of 2008, when Annie was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given a prognosis of three weeks, one would think she was out of time and had no chance for any form of salvation. Reason being, she was fifty-seven years old, we’d been married thirty seven years and for those thirty-seven years, she was the one in my life that coined the term, “religion is a total load of rubbish.” Why do you go to church and put money in that stupid plate? You’re only helping the rich get richer. Alas, I only attended church a few times.
That, my friends, was my sweet Annie. She was kind, generous with charities, and truly an ambassador to humanity. And I adored her. She loved people, and cared deeply and often painfully for others from deep within her heart. One would think she was a natural born Christian, as her ways, were the ways of the Bible’s teachings, how Christians should be. But as you just read, that was far from the case.
Annie was not only a terminally ill cancer patient, but an atheist too. Did you ever wonder what was behind the mystery of why it’s not all that uncommon to hear of a terminally ill patient having a spiritual awakening. And that’s true, especially in the world of cancer where patients often have the time to ponder their fate.
I have a theory. It may not be such a mystery after all. I think it’s quite possible that the spiritual awakening was due to the potential of a very lonely death with no possibility of rescue after death, followed by the fact that the person may have already been intrigued by spiritualism—what happens to the spirit after death.
Months after Annie died, when I was going through boxes of stuff, I found little notes on paper that made me wonder what she must have been thinking. For example, I found a note on an envelope that said, “thank God we had insurance for the damage.” I don’t know what she was thinking, or even what her inference was, but I know this, those were words that one would not have heard coming from her lips prior to her journey with cancer. However, that short statement, when put into context with her spiritual awakening and her eventual acceptance of Christ as her savior, is very powerful food for thought, and in my opinion are somehow connected.
During Annie’s journey with cancer, she received what many nurses and medical personnel called, “Miracles.” Hence, many of the nurses at the cancer center and hospital called Annie their little miracle girl. I can still remember the day I was wheeling Annie through the cancer center when a nurse squatting down by a lady said, “There she goes, our little miracle girl.” And that was only the third month of her journey. Annie was truly a walking miracle to many doctors and nurses in the medical community, and Some said, “her survival defied all logic.”
As time went on, throughout her thirty month journey, their views were reinforced “time and again.” And as for me, my life has now been defined by her journey. What I saw, what I experienced, was simply amazing. To this day, almost 5 years post death, I still have the wonderment of the special life we shared for that short thirty month moment in time, where our bodies were always in motion and time seemed to stand still. I can still hear the whispers and see the smiles on the faces of so many cancer patients inspired by the hope and love she brought into their lives.
I don’t know why Annie got cancer and nor does anyone else, but, perhaps it was simply her destiny to reach out and touch others while alive, and through me, from the afterlife. I’ve been writing, and sharing Annie’s stories in guest speaker roles for almost five years now, with no intention of letting up until my memory fades. She was one of a kind, but I have to believe where there was one, there has to be more.
Anyone diagnosed with a terminal illness, will likely go through many changes, which may allow their mind to explore areas of opportunities, that were always there but never acknowledged. If you’re ever in that situation, don’t be afraid to open your heart and see what’s out there waiting for you. In Annie’s case, “What did she have to lose?” What’s the worst that could happen if she was wrong? She’d simply be lying in the ground along with the other non-believers.
Annie made the right choice for her, and who knows, she may be laughing as I speak to you, or maybe not. I know this, we can’t criticize her spiritual awakening as she died with so much love in her heart for the new journey she was embarking on. For me, the person that suffered her loss the most, it doesn’t get any better than that.
Ten months ago, Nov 2014, I made a trip to Northern California to be near my eighty-seven year old dad, who was in the hospital fighting pneumonia. At one point he said to me, “Bobby, I think I’m about ready to go home, and be with momma (my mom).” He made that statement without even flinching—so matter of factly. He wasn’t fearful, it was simply his way of turning his life over to his Creator. But he lived on until 7 days ago. He passed peacefully on August 27, 2015. My point is, true believers do not fear death and do not question the afterlife. It’s their rite of passage. Is that really such a bad thing?
Never forget, “Life is about love and being loved.” And, “If you love someone today, try to love them more tomorrow.” “Life Happens.” “Because of Annie”
Hear the whole story in Bob’s book, Because of Annie. All proceeds are donated to cancer charities.