A few weeks ago I boarded a plane bound for Houston, Texas. Many people were traveling that day, families going on vacation, businessmen and women were hoping for the next sale, and some folks were simply going home. I was on my way to lead a funeral service for my best friend’s wife.
Some time ago Carmen Dalton had asked me, “Danny, when the time comes, would you lead my funeral service?” My response was simple, “Yes, hopefully a long time from now.” I realized that whenever that time came it would be too soon. My plane touched down at 2:30 a.m. I was met by Steve’s son Stevie, a handsome young man with the same smile I had grown accustom too since meeting his father in grade school. The drive took about an hour to my hotel and the conversation was one I will cherish for a lifetime. After catching a couple hours of sleep, Steve and his daughter Shelly came to pick me up. I hugged my buddy and introduced myself to this young lady who had a smile that would light up any room. Her countenance mirrored her mother in profound way. The next several hours were going to be difficult. There is no painless way to say “goodbye, until we meet again.”
Though the viewing and service were hard there was no denying Carmen had prepared for everything. She had given a list of things to Steve a few weeks before her passing. It took care of all decisions that this grieving family would have to endure. However the greatest preparation was not written on a page, but etched in her heart. She had walked by faith for some time throughout her illness and now everyone realized she was walking by sight. Sight being that she was in the arms of the Lord God almighty.
A year ago, almost to the day, my wife Sonya and I went to Houston to spend a few days with Steve and Carmen. I wrote an article back in the spring about this visit. We had the best time while there and on the last night I baptized Carmen in the hot tub at their complex where they lived. She would experience a peace that carried her from that day until the moment she was welcomed home by the Lord.
Carmen was a beautiful person inside and out. Talented in so many ways and had a zest for life. Surely the Apostle Paul must have been referring to someone like her when he wrote in II Timothy 4:7 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”
Join me in prayer this holiday season for Steve, Shelly, Butch, Stevie, Tristan and Addy. There is a void in their life that cannot be filled, but the love and prayers of others can sustain them. God will do His part and you and I can be His loving arms.
Carmen prepared for that moment, though for a family who has just lost a loved one there is no preparation. However, there is faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love!